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'Scrapping Zimbabwean Permit Will Cause Humanitarian Crisis'

'Scrapping Zimbabwean Permit Will Cause Humanitarian Crisis'

Civil society organisations in South Africa have expressed concern over the discontinuation of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP), saying it will have a serious negative humanitarian impact.

Last year the South African cabinet said it will not renew ZEP, a permit it used to regularise Zimbabweans living in the country.

Almost 180 000 ZEP holders living in South Africa face deportation at the end of this year if they fail to migrate to other permits. Most are unlikely to qualify.

The Scalabrini Centre in Cape Town says it has received numerous requests from ZEP holders living in South Africa who want help in acquiring permanent residency, the extension of permits, and applications for low-skills permits.

James Chapman, Head of Advocacy and Legal Advisor at the Scalabrini Centre, has pointed out some of the implications of the ZEP not being renewed. He said:

Families would be separated. There would be children accessing school and remaining in the country, but parents are no longer able to stay because the ZEP is no longer in place.

There is a whole range of services that could well be compromised that were accessible before … For instance, during Covid, there was an extension of the relief of the stress grants to asylum seekers and ZEP holders, but if you cease to be a ZEP holder that kind of grant would no longer be accessible.

Scalabrini has already begun to engage the government on the issue and will continue to do so to look at the ZEP decision and alternatives available to ZEP holders.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza said the department had sent individual letters to approximately 178 142 Zimbabweans.

He said the Department also circulated a directive to banks, employers, academic institutions and other relevant stakeholders.

To date, Home Affairs had received about 7 000 queries and responded to 2 500.

More: GroundUp

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