South Africa’s Home Affairs minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, said that the scrapping of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) was going to benefit some of the holders as they will be eligible to apply for other permits to stay in the neighbouring country.
Motsoaledi noted that one of the conditions for the special permit was that holders could not apply for any other permit in South Africa, which limited them. He said:
When you are a foreign national and you get married to a South African, you are entitled to apply for citizenship simply for permanent reasons by virtue of being married to a South African.
The problem with this Zimbabwean special permit is that one of the conditions is that you don’t qualify for any other benefits, so it will help them when we stop this because we’ll remove the special conditions.
Towards the end of last year, the South African cabinet announced that after 31 December 2021, special permit holders living in South Africa will have 12 months to apply for alternative visas or permits, voluntarily leave the country or face deportation.
Groups such as African Amity and the Zimbabwean Permit Holders’ Association have launched court bids to challenge the decision but the Pretoria High Court ruled that their applications were not urgent.