SA Home Affairs sends letter to ZEP Zimbabweans

The South African Department of Home Affairs has emailed a letter to Zimbabweans on the ZEP permits.

The letter reads as follows:

Dear Sir or madam.

Ref: None extension of the exemptions in terms of section 1 (D) of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002, issued to Zimbabwean nationals.

  1. By the direction of the Minister of Home Affairs I addressed this letter to you on his behalf.
  2. Kindly note that the Minister of Home Affairs has exercised his powers in terms of section 31 (2)(d) of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 not to extend the exemption granted to you in terms of section 31(2)(b)in 2019.
  3. In order to avoid unnecessary prejudice, the minister has also imposed a condition giving you a period of 12 months in order to apply for one or more of the visas provided for in the Immigration Act. In other words, your permit which is due to expire on 31st December 2021 will be regarded as valid until that 31 December 2022.
  4. The minister has issued a directive to the immigration services and all officials to the effect that no action should be taken against the Zimbabwean exemptions holders in terms of section 29,30 and 32 of the Immigration Act.
  5. You are therefore required to make use of the 12 months period to apply for one or more of the visas set out in the Immigration Act.
  6. The minister has also directed that a special team be set up to deal with the anticipated applications for various visas by Zimbabwean nationals.
  7. The decision of the minister was taken due to inter alia the following reasons 

(a.) The exemptions granted to the Zimbabwean nationals was and has always been a temporary measure pending improvement of the economic situation in Zimbabwe. In 2008, approximately 200,000 people arrived in South Africa seeking asylum. The majority of them were Zimbabwean nationals. Again in 2009, another 207,000 arrived, also seeking asylum. Similarly, the majority of them were Zimbabwean nationals, the extensive nature of asylum applications by Zimbabwean nationals between 2008 to 2009 overwhelmed the administrative capacity of the department ‘s asylum seeker management unit and their resources were overstretched. This situation has been exacerbated in prevailing years with an accumulation of appeals within the statutory bodies responsible for rejected or failed asylum applications.

(b) The Department of Home Affairs has encountered limited capacity to respond to such capacity constraints by virtue of its constrained budget. This was more pronounced in 2020 with the outbreak of COVID-19 and other economic factors in South Africa. This resulted in the budget of the Department of Home Affairs being significantly reduced. First, in the 2020/2021 financial year, R562 million was cut during the special adjustment budget and a further R301 million during the medium term expenditure framework. Second, in the financial year 2021/2022, the Department of Home Affairs best plan was cut by R969 million, the bulk of which was for compensation of employees (R671 million), The compensation of employees ceiling for 2021/ 2022 was set at 3.4 billion rands. The Department of Home Affairs staff complement, as matters stand, the DHA was unable to employ more staff members in the immigration services. Therefore, it had to prioritize the budget and allocate more resources to sleeping surfaces, which in essence deals with the rights of South African citizens.

(c) According to Statistics South Africa quarterly labor force quarter two of 2021, South Africa’s unemployment rate increased by 1.8%, bringing the overall rate to 34%. This is the largest record since the start of the Quarter Labor force system in 2008.

(d) The DHA came to realize that some of the Zimbabwean exemptions holders were violating the conditions in that about 1900 were somehow able to apply for waivers in terms of the Immigration Act. Their applications were rejected.

8. It goes without saying that a combination of factors led to the lawful, rational and reasonable decision of the Minister.

9. Should you have any representations to make regarding the non extension of your exemption and the 12 month period, you may forward such representations to Mr. Jack Jackson McKay Deputy Director immigration services and the email has been provided.

Director General LT Makhode.

31 December 2021

The letter will come as a relief to ZEP Zimbabweans who were asked by their employers to bring proof back that they have submited applications for a new class of work permit and those who have been asked by the financial institutions to do the same.

Please watch the video above this post for more details.