News24 editorial has described as shameful the decision by South Africa’s Cabinet made last December to cancel, without consideration, the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP).
The decision will affect thousands of Zimbabweans who are residing in that country after fleeing the biting economy in Zimbabwe.
They have up to 31 December 2022 to either apply for another type of permit or leave South Africa.
The resolve, championed by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, was made without due regard for what would happen to tens of thousands of people who came to South Africa seeking nothing but a better life, and whose lives will now be upended by this decision, according to News24. Added the publication:
The exemption permits were granted to more than 250 000 Zimbabweans who were among more than estimated two million who migrated to neighbouring countries at the height of Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis in 2008 and 2009.
The temporary measure was meant to regularise their presence in South Africa and allow Zimbabweans access to services such as banking. But now government has decided to cancel this measure without putting proper plans in place.
The publication further says the South African government did play a role in the political crises that engulfed Zimbabwe, resulting in the economic crises, by allowing the Mugabe regime to get away with rigging the 2002 election and many other crimes after that.
News24 adds that the decision to revoke the permit affects all types of people from across the social spectrum. It impacts teachers, truck drivers and doctors. It will separate families and leave others stranded without cars or access to banking.
It interrupts university students who were trying to complete their degrees.
Human rights activists have engaged the courts in a bid to have the decision revoked. Some of them have even received threats.