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ZEP holders not keen on Zim return: Envoy

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ZEP holders not keen on Zim return: Envoy


ZIMBABWEANS that are facing deportation from South Africa after the expiry of their special permits in June are not taking the government’s offer to register for assistance to return home voluntarily, it has emerged.

South Africa last year decided not to renew the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) dispensation that allowed nearly 200 000 economic refugees from Zimbabwe to live and work in the neighbouring country.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has offered to facilitate the return of those affected and urged them to register with Zimbabwe’s embassy in Pretoria so that they can be assisted with repatriation costs and reintegration into their communities back home.

However, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa, David Hamadziripi, told SABC News in an interview on Tuesday that they have not registered anyone for the voluntary repatriation as the deadline draws near.

“In November 2021, when the government of South Africa took the decision to no longer extend the ZEP, it was again a sovereign decision, that is one of those decisions another government cannot question,” Hamadziripi said.

 “Most of them want the facilitation to return, either at the end of May or in the course of June, but presently there is no facilitation because there has been no such request.”

 The Helen Suzman Foundation has approached the courts seeking to overturn the decision by South Africa’s Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s to terminate the permits.

 The ZEP is a special permit issued in terms of the Immigration Act, and allows holders, and their children, temporary legal status to live, work and study in South Africa.

It is the third iteration of a permit that began back in 2009 as the Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project (DZP), which the South African government introduced to cope with an influx of undocumented Zimbabweans fleeing political persecution.

The DZP was renewed as the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP) in 2014, and later renamed ZEP in 2017.

 Judgment in the challenge to the termination of the ZEP was reserved.

 The exact number of Zimbabwean economic refugees in South Africa is unknown, but it is suspected that the number runs into millions. Newsday

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