The South African government has extended Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEPs) by two years until 29 November 2025, granting Zimbabweans living in South Africa a reprieve from the uncertainty surrounding their immigration status.
The announcement was made on Friday by South African Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi.
In a press conference, Motsoledi said he is granting them new permits, to allow them to remain in the country until the end of 2025.
“I have decided to grant exemptions to approximately 178 000 Zimbabwean nationals for a period of two years in terms of Section 32 2 (b) of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002. The affected Zimbabwean Nationals will be entitled to apply for new permits under 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,” he said.
“A holder of the exemption permit due to expire on the 31st of December 2023 or June 2024, and such extended period of validity will be entitled to apply for a new permit. Exemption permit issues will expire on the 29th of November 2025.”
Motsoaledi said a holder of the exemption permit will not be entitled to apply for permanent residence in terms of Sections 25, 26 and 27 of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 or any other provisions in any other law, irrespective of their period of stay in the Republic of South Africa.
“Exemption permits will not be renewable. The holder of the exemption permit will be allowed free movement between Zimbabwe and South Africa or any other country during the extension period. The holder of the permit cannot change his/her status in the Republic of South Africa as contemplated in the Immigration Act during the validity of the permit issued,” he said.
“When the holder of the permit due to expire on 31 December 2023 or 28 June 2024 he/she must disclose it and register all the children born in the Republic of South Africa. The department of Home Affairs extended the permits to 31 December 2023 and the court of law extended it further by six months to 28 June 2024. We are saying that a person who falls in these two categories, he/she must register all the children and stay in the Republic of South Africa.”
In 2009, the South African government introduced a Dispensation of Zimbabwean Permit (DZP) to legalise the many Zimbabweans already inside the country because of the political and socio-economic situation in Zimbabwe.
In 2014, the DZP was renamed the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP); and then in 2017 renamed the ZEP.