Holders of Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (Zeps) have updated their court case accusing South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet of robbing them of their freedom to stay and work in the neighboring country.
The Zep Holders Association (Zepha) cites Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi as the first respondent in their latest court application, which was filed in the High Court of Pretoria on Wednesday this week. His director general Livhuwani Makhode is the second respondent.
The third and fourth respondents, respectively, are Ramaphosa and all ministers.
The holders of Zeps are contesting the decision and following directions, claiming that they and the South African economy were harmed as a result.
The Zimbabweans had a realistic expectation of being eligible for permanent residency rights, according to court papers filed by the association’s lawyer, Simba Chitando.
They further claim that the decision taken by the South African government was illegal under international law.
Darlington Chiuta, one of the Zepha representatives, said in his founding affidavit submitted in favor of the new court application that without mainstream visas, the children of the impacted Zimbabweans would be compelled to drop out of school.
He contended that the youngsters would be compelled to begin an educational program with which they were unfamiliar, disrupting their current studies.
According to Chiuta, the Zep holders had been living legally in South Africa for over a decade and have made significant investments.
Part of the court records states, “This includes physical property (completely paid for and being paid off), unemployment insurance, and various other financial assets they would be obliged to cease if they fail to shift to other mainstream visas.”
“They would effectively forfeit (sic) the unemployment (UIF) benefits if forced to halt payments.” If they are forced to leave the nation, they will be compelled to sell property they cannot keep.”
The Zep holders have also been denied administrative action, according to Chiuta, who accuses the South African government of continually rejecting the holders’ requests to gain clarity on their future in the neighboring nation.
“They created rulings that are meant to keep them from pursuing legal residency in the nation; their conclusions are impossible for Zep holders to follow; and some of the decisions are self-contradictory, illogical, procedurally unfair, and startlingly irrational,” Chiuta stated.
He went on to say that the South African government had treated Zimbabweans badly, drawing condemnation from a number of human rights organizations, highlighting the fact that Zep holders and their families consider themselves members of the South African community.
“They consider South Africa to be their only home and cannot envisage being uprooted from it, especially in the manner that the respondents propose,” Chiuta added.
“The respondents’ decision surprised Zep holders because, despite repeated attempts to communicate, no information indicating the Zep’s termination was supplied.”
He claimed that South African institutions were vulnerable to economic discrimination because some financial service companies have products and contractual arrangements worth billions of rands with various Zep holders.
He contended that the revocation of permits would harm the South African economy and its reputation as a secure investment destination.
“Zep holders offered the skills required for the South African economy’s productivity… In court documents, Chiuta stated that “no business can locate South African replacements for Zep holders who have the abilities and experience in the particular roles to sustain the same level of production.”
Zimbabweans have been permanent residents in South Africa under government-imposed terms, however their residency privileges have been limited to less than ten years.
Many Zep holders expected their residency privileges to be extended in the same way that they had been in the past.
Chiuta argued in court that awarding Zep permanent status in South Africa would be in accordance with internationally accepted migration norms.
“Zepha is seeking financial assistance from the Zimbabwean business community to help with what is currently the most important issue in South African courts, involving hundreds of Zimbabweans directly and millions indirectly.”