According to court documents filed by the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit Holders Association (Zepha), the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit Scheme (ZEP) is “the largest case of fraud and theft ever committed by the government of one country against citizens of a neighboring country in African history.” ).
The association is asking the Gauteng High Court to grant permanent residence to approximately 200,000 ZEP holders.
Zimbabwe Release Permits
The ZEP system, which allows Zimbabweans to work in South Africa, was suspended in December 2021.
It was then extended until the end of 2022 to give permit holders more time to apply for other permits or face deportation or voluntary repatriation to Zimbabwe.
One of the reasons the Department of the Interior (DHA) suspended the ZEP scheme is its cost.
This is contradicted by Zepha chairman Sandra Chignagna, who claims in a sworn letter before the court that the DHA has been raking in the money since it introduced a permit scheme for Zimbabweans more than a decade ago.
Director General Livhuvani Mahode, representing DHA, says R145.8 million has been requested from the National Treasury to launch a special benefit program.
However, only R15 million was allocated to the tax exemption process for SADC (Southern African Development Community) citizens.
This small allotment was evidence that providing benefits to SADC asylum-seekers was unsustainable, Mahode says in the sworn letter.
Chinyanya replies that the roughly 200,000 Zimbabweans had to pay R1,090 each for the ZEP and R890 for its predecessor, the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP), totaling R374.2 million.
And that’s without taking into account unsuccessful applicants and taxes paid by successful applicants in South Africa over the last decade or more.
Cignana said SA is financially exploiting ZEP holders.
The defendants in the case are the Minister and Director General of the Interior, President Cyril Ramaphosa and the cabinet.
“This fact, together with allegations of corruption in the Zondo Commission, which proved the corruption of money [was] government officials from migration raises the question of what happened to the total estimated R374.2 million paid by benefit holders for their permits and why [Home Affairs] turned to the National Treasury for a start.”
The permit scheme is a grotesque extortion of an ethnic minority “no different from the fascists of the past, shamelessly cashing in on potential billions of rand, mostly from Zimbabwean migrants,” Zepha’s lawyer Simba Chitando said in a scathing statement. .
“The cabinet’s next stop will obviously be the white population of this country through a reform program, and then any other ethnic minority with the means, until the majority robs the minority,” he adds.
The only hope for a “sober trial”
“The only hope for South Africa and short-term stability in the region is a sober judgement.
“Together with business leaders who must now diversify investments in South Africa’s neighboring countries to avoid an inevitable economic collapse on the horizon.”
The case was brought in October 2021 when Zefa filed an application with the Gauteng High Court demanding that the Home Office be forced to issue South African identity cards to them and declare them permanent residents.
The Aliens Act 1937 was passed to regulate the entry and residence status of citizens from other Commonwealth countries at the time when South Africa was a member of the Commonwealth.
Zefa says the department’s policy towards Zimbabwean release permit holders is schizophrenic.
“ZEP holders have been asked to change the conditions of their stay in South Africa during 2022, although the permit says they cannot change the conditions of their stay.
“The terms of the permit could not be met, and the defendants themselves extended them even though they were non-renewable, and extended them even though they were not renewable.”
The mass migration of Zimbabweans to South Africa began in 2001 when the country faced sanctions over its land reform program, Chinyanya said.
Migration accelerated again after 2008 in response to the country’s political and economic crises.
Zepha says it’s embarrassing that the DHA relied on colonial-era immigration laws and exemptions that favored white people from Commonwealth countries and former Portuguese colonies but specifically excluded black Africans.
“Black on Black Prejudice”
“This is the clear anti-black ANC government prejudice recorded here in South Africa’s national history and is currently being considered by this Respected Court,” Chinyagna said in an affidavit.
The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) is also challenging the DHA’s decision to shut down the ZEP system and is demanding that the Gauteng North High Court declare all existing ZEPs valid.
This will prevent any ZEP holder from being arrested or deported.
Foundation CEO Nicole Fritz says in court documents that the home secretary has provided benefits to eligible Zimbabweans for over 13 years under various benefit schemes, beginning with the Zimbabwean Liberation Project (DZP) in 2009, which granted legal status to more than 250,000 Zimbabweans who fled the country’s political and economic instability.
This scheme was expanded and renamed Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP) in 2014 and ZEP in 2017.
“Based on these permits, Zimbabwean citizens created lives, families and careers in South Africa that are now at risk,” Fritz said in an affidavit.
There is a risk that tens of thousands of Zimbabweans will remain undocumented from December 31, 2022.
They will not be able to obtain alternative visas in time, even if they are eligible, due to backlogs and DHA delays.
Zepha’s case is different in that it wants the court to force the Home Office to issue SA identity papers to ZEP holders.
They claim that the ZEP is a permanent residence permit valid for a certain period of time permitted by the Immigration Act and therefore they are entitled to an ID card.
HSF also pointed to the fact that few Zimbabweans qualify for work permits under the critical skills list and are likely to fail in obtaining asylum.
One of the reasons why the Home Office decided not to renew the ZEP is the high unemployment rate in South Africa, which is now at its lowest level since 2008.
“Recently, there have been violent clashes between foreign citizens and citizens in the country. This is due to a lack of resources in the country,” the DHA sworn letter says.
Chinyan replies that there is no evidence that ZEP holders are the cause of unemployment in South Africa, and xenophobic violence cannot be blamed solely on competition for scarce resources, but on a host of issues such as tribalism, ethnic tensions, populism, and incitement from political leaders.
This article first appeared on Moneyweb and has been republished with permission. Read original article here