Zimbabweans living in South Africa have breathed a sigh of relief after authorities across the Limpopo resolved to extend the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) for two years until November 2025.
Addressing the media yesterday, Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi confirmed the latest developments.
“I have decided to grant exemption to approximately 178 000 Zimbabwean nationals for a period of two years in terms of section 32b of the Immigration Act of 2002,” he said.
“The affected Zimbabwean nationals will be entitled to apply for new permits at the following terms and conditions: A holder of the exemption permit will be entitled to work, seek employment and conduct business in the Republic of South Africa during that period of exemption.”
Pretoria had stopped renewing the ZEPs that expired in December last year, and had opted to give the permit holders a year to move to other visa regimes or face deportation.
ZEP was introduced in 2009 by then Home Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as a temporary solution to a growing refugee crisis related to Zimbabwe.
There are an estimated 180 000 ZEP holders in South Africa.
Zimbabwe has in the past two years been battling a mass exodus of skilled and unskilled citizens, forcing neighbouring South Africa to put in place various mechanisms, including tightening security at its borders.
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