The South African Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi has scoffed at a Court application made by the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) contesting his decision not to extend exemption permits to Zimbabweans staying in that country without papers.
Motsoaledi who accused HSF of interfering in the affairs of his country said in a statement released yesterday that there is no going back on the decision.
The decision affect 250 000 Zimbabweans who now face deportation and sometimes xenophobic attacks in that country.
“The Minister and the Department of Home Affairs will vigorously defend the lawful, reasonable and rational decision of the Minister. We cannot be expected to throw up our hands in despair and fail the people of South Africa,” said the statement
The issued exemption permits were valid until December 31, 2021.
The statement said that the decision to deport people living illegally in SA is supported by the majority of South Africans and the court application by HSF is meant to blackmail the SA Government.
“The HSF, in its desperate bid to blackmail the nation, is twisting the support of the Minister’s decision by the majority of South African citizens as being xenophobic,” said the statement.
The Zimbabwean Exemption Permits replace 2014’s Zimbabwean Special Permits (ZSPs) and the Special Dispensation Permits for Zimbabweans (DZPs) which were issued in 2010.
The series of special permits for Zimbabweans make it easier for Zimbabwean nationals to legalise their stay in South Africa by cutting red tape and dispensing with most of the ordinary visa requirements.
Zimbabweans are the largest single group of foreign nationals in South Africa, with some estimating that there are more than three million Zimbabweans in the country.
Once issued, Zimbabwean Exemption Permit holders will not be allowed to change the conditions attached to their Zimbabwean Exemption Permit.
A Zimbabwean Exemption Permit issued for the purposes of the study, for example, cannot at a later stage be converted to a Zimbabwean Exemption Permit for the purposes of work. Graduating students will be expected to apply for ordinary work visas after graduation.