On Monday, Operation Dudula held a demonstration outside the Pretoria High Court to protest the extension of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP). The event caused a portion of Madiba Street to be closed as members of the organization marched and sang in opposition to the permit extension.
The demonstration is part of Operation Dudula’s effort to join the legal challenge by the Helen Suzman Foundation, which is seeking a review of the lawfulness of the decision by the Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, to terminate the ZEP. The foundation wants the Pretoria High Court to declare Motsoaledi’s decision to terminate the permit and grant a limited extension of 12 months as unlawful, unconstitutional, and invalid.
In their court application, Operation Dudula is also seeking to have all ZEPs declared illegal. National Deputy Chairperson of Operation Dudula, Dan Radebe, stated that the demonstration is a show of dissatisfaction with the extension of ZEPs.
“We are here to demonstrate our dissatisfaction with the extensions of ZEPs because the moment you extend it for another six months, it means you are saying to South Africans, they have become accustomed to poverty, so they can hold on for another six months, while these foreigners take South African jobs and things like that,” said Radebe.
The legal challenge by the Helen Suzman Foundation is being opposed by the Minister of Home Affairs, and the matter is set to be heard in April.
According to data released by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, South Africa is officially home to 773,246 out of 908,913 Zimbabwean nationals who make up the diaspora. The data may be undercounted, and human rights groups estimate that up to a quarter of the population, or about 4 million people, left Zimbabwe due to economic crisis.
In related news, Operation Dudula has been criticized by education NGOs for its “campaign to remove migrant children from schools” in Diepsloot, Johannesburg.
The demonstration by Operation Dudula highlights the ongoing tensions and debates surrounding the presence of Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa, and the legal challenges to the ZEP permit will likely continue to be a significant topic in the coming months.