Legal team to fight Cabinet decision to discontinue Zimbabwe Exemption Permits
- A team of lawyers and civil society groups will be challenging SA govt's move to discontinue Zim special dispensation permits
- Roughly 190,000 Zimbabwean permit holders have until December 2022 to migrate to other permits or face deportation
- Advocate Simba Chitando says the decision is both unconstitutional and impractical
A group of civil society organisations and lawyers are preparing for a legal battle after Cabinet's decision not to renew the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) which expires on 31 December 2021.
"There's going to be a very strong fight to this decision", says advocate Simba Chitando who represents ZEP holders seeking permanent residence in South Africa.
Last week Thursday Cabinet announced that it would no longer issue extensions to the ZEP which provided special dispensations to almost 190,000 Zimbabwean permit holders.
However, it decided on a 12-month grace period during which time ZEP holders "should apply for other permits appropriate to their particular status or situation".
Chitando says it will be "impossible" for ZEP holders to migrate to other permits between now and December 2022 due to a range of factors including "limited functionality" of the Home Affairs Department.
"It's impossible for anyone to do anything to migrate to a permit within that time. It's impractical", he tells CapeTalk.
The advocate also argues that the decision is unlawful and unconstitutional, stating that it must be challenged in court.
My reaction is that of dismay, I think it's a very bad decision. It is impractical. As you know, we have a new variant and we are still in the middle of Covid-19 times.Simba Chitando, advocate representing ZEP holders
The end of December is when the permit expires, so that's obviously when the grace period begins and it runs for 12 months so it would be [until] the last day of December 2022... It's no time at all.Simba Chitando, advocate representing ZEP holders
These people have been here for more than 10 years, they should be permanent residents by now.Simba Chitando, advocate representing ZEP holders
We have been instructed to challenge that decision. We believe that decision is unlawful and unconstitutional. These people do qualify for permanent residency.Simba Chitando, advocate representing ZEP holders
There are about 190,000 individuals directly affected but there are families too... and that altogether makes it millions of people.Simba Chitando, advocate representing ZEP holders
Source : Thomas Holder/EWN.