Johannesburg, South Africa – The Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa is set to begin a mapping exercise for the return of Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders, as 180,000 Zimbabweans face possible deportation if they cannot secure alternative legal residency in the country.
Last week, advocacy groups gathered at the University of Cape Town to discuss a forthcoming court challenge against the government’s plan to abolish the ZEP. Advocate Simba Chitando, who represents ZEP holders, stated that the Zimbabwean government is not responsible for ending the permit but can provide support for Zimbabweans who may choose to return to their home country.
In September 2022, the South African Department of Home Affairs extended a six-month special permit for Zimbabweans due to the limited number of regularization applications received. As the country revamps its immigration policies to manage the influx of economic migrants, South Africa intends to end most special permits for foreign nationals.
The upcoming mapping exercise by the Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa is expected to provide a clear understanding of the number of ZEP holders who may want to return to their home country, and help facilitate their repatriation. The Zimbabwean government’s commitment to support its nationals during this challenging time has been noted by many, including Advocate Simba Chitando, who stated that the government’s actions reflect its responsibility to its citizens.
This developing story is being closely monitored by Zimbabweans in South Africa and those around the world, as they await the outcome of the court challenge against the government’s plan to abolish the ZEP.