Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders in South Africa have chosen to wait for the outcome of a legal challenge against the termination of the ZEP in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria before requesting to be repatriated home. This decision was made despite the fact that nearly 180,000 holders of Zimbabwean Exemption Permits face deportation when their permits expire on June 30, 2023.
The Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa announced that they will assist citizens who decide to return home but has not received any formal requests from ZEP holders expressing a desire to return home. David Hamadziripi, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa, stated that Zimbabweans are known to be a fearless, resolute, and unrelenting people in spite of the many hurdles that their country has been subjected to. He also mentioned that most of them want the facilitation to return, either at the end of May or in the course of June, so presently there is no facilitation because there has been no such request.
In November 2021, the South African government decided not to extend the ZEP, which is a temporary document that permits holders and their dependents to reside, work, and study legally in South Africa. The termination of the ZEP is a sovereign decision of the government of South Africa, and the Zimbabwean government has accepted this decision. However, nearly 180,000 Zimbabweans in South Africa are anxiously waiting for the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria’s ruling on the legal challenge against the termination of the ZEP.
As the Zimbabwean community in South Africa marked the 43rd anniversary of Zimbabwe’s independence, they are anxiously waiting for the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria’s ruling on the legal challenge against the termination of the ZEP. The judgment has yet to be announced, and some Zimbabweans may be holding onto hope for a favorable outcome.
When the ZEP permit expires on June 30, 2023, holders have the choice of applying for an alternative visa or returning to Zimbabwe. It remains to be seen how many ZEP holders will choose to stay in South Africa and how many will return home to Zimbabwe.