Home Affairs Minister Motsoaledi chickening out of the ZEP court case



Motsoaledi approaches ZEP lawyers requesting a postponement of the court case to next year

Staff Reporter

South Africa’s department of Home Affairs is developing cold feet over a Zimbabwe Exemption Permit court challenge.

The Department wrote to the High Court recently asking the court hearing scheduled for 5 to 7 October to be moved to next year.

“In the circumstances, your client’s insistence that the application proceed on 5 to 7 October 2022 is unworkable, impractical and will likely result in significant wasted costs. We take the view that it would be prudent to agree to new dates for the hearing of the matter and a timetable for the filing of further papers to allow for a proper verification of the issues,” reads part of the Home Affairs’ letter addressed to Advocate Eric Mabuza who is representing 178 000 ZEP holders in a case that Zimbabwe Immigration Federation brought to court against Home Affair Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s unilateral decision not to extend the special permits by another four years as before.


Motsoaledi recently extended the 31 December 2022 deadline to 30 June 2023 to give Zimbabweans ample time to migrate from ZEP to mainstream visas.

The Minister is also using the extension as a reason to justify his intention to move the court hearing to a later date in 2023.

“Given the extension of the validity of the exemptions to 30 June 2023, there can be no prejudice to your clients if the hearing is postponed,” reads letter.

The Zimbabweans are however not having any of that. The Zimbabwe Immigration chairman Luke Mufaro Dzviti vowed that the court hearing was proceeding next month as his members were grossly affected by the Motsoaledi’s efforts to render them illegal immigrants.

“I have told Eric (our senior attorney) that I was there in the meeting with Justice Ledwaba and the HSF and Simba Chitando was there and we agree to set court dates to 5-7 October 2022. Therefore, I have told our attorneys to disagree if we also are requested to move the dates because we are not getting services from banks, schools and others are losing jobs,” said Dzviti.

Dzviti said the Motsoaledi was trying to create breathing space through delaying tactics so that he could strategise again after exhausting his budget for legal fees on numerous unwinnable court cases.

“It is our belief that DHA is now totally broke and can’t afford more costs of court cases this year and want to postpone with the hope that next year financial budget may give them more money to handle many litigations they are faced with in courts,” said Dzviti in a letter which Zimbabwe Observer is in possession of.

Dzviti also revealed that Motsoaledi was warned by the High Court of South Africa in March this year to desist from unnecessarily burdening taxpayers with huge legal bills by bringing to court cases they are assured of losing.  Dr Vusi Sibanda of the Africa Diaspora Global Network told Zimbabwe Observer that lawyers warned Home Affairs department that would lose the case in court.

Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) Chairman Advocate Gabriel Shumba threw his tacit support behind Dzviti maintaining that further delays in the court case have detrimental consequences to ZEP holders.

“A delay will further worsen the uncertainty for ZEP applicants. I am of the view that should a postponement be inescapable, then the parties need to agree on interim relief measures. These could include the Applicant for the postponement, ie, the Department, consenting to a draft letter to banks and employers, articulating the extension and the dates thereof and the need not to terminate any contractual obligations before then,” said ZEF Shumba in an exclusive interview with Zimbabwe Observer.

Advocate Gabriel Shumba, Chairman of Zimbabwe Exiles Forum

Advocate Shumba also called for the relaxation of a plethora of stringent labour requirements which were affecting low skilled workers like housemates.

 “There are issues regarding the fact that applications to the mainstream permits remain fraught with hurdles eg regarding the labour certificate and SAQA. These negatively impact those who have been working for instance as housemaids for years. Yet the bond that has been created with South African families should not be easily severed. We thus hope that the relaxation of some of the onerous requirements may be discussed in the interim,” added Shumba.

The ZEF boss also took a swipe at VFS officials who were refusing to accept applications from ZEP holders on flimsy excuses.

“Lastly, there are VFS officials who have taken it upon themselves to adjudicate applications and as a result, refuse to accept them on very spurious grounds, further preventing the applications from being submitted. The Department needs to look into this and send a memorandum to VFS,” said Shumba.

Only 9 000 of the 178 000 permit holders had made representations about why the department should not terminate their permits. Meanwhile, self-appointed illegal immigrant watchdog Operation Dudula has said it is heading to the apex court to interdict the Home Affairs minister’s extension of the permits.

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