Maimane blames Zim Exemption Permit debacle on ANC and Zanu-PF relationship

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By Times Live

JOHANNESBURG – “The courts have no choice but to uphold refugee laws and the constitution. If we want to solve the immigration crisis we have to go directly to the root of the problem, namely the dictatorship in Zimbabwe.”

This is according to Build One SA leader Mmusi Maimane, reacting to the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) legal debacle.

This week, the high court in Pretoria set aside home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s decision to terminate the permit programme and ordered that the permits be deemed valid for the next 12 months.

According to the court papers, more than 170,000 Zimbabwe nationals working and living in South Africa were affected by the termination of the permits. The permit programme was started 14 years ago to allow an influx of undocumented nationals to apply for immunity in response to political and economic turmoil in Zimbabwe.

Maimane blamed the ANC for worsening immigration issues, saying if the party had intervened and helped solve political and economic troubles in Zimbabwe, there would not be thousands of people seeking refuge in South Africa.

“The ANC government has for years enabled corruption and oppression in Zimbabwe by the Zanu-PF. How?

“They ignored rigged elections and farm invasions. Instead of putting out the fire next door, they gave [Robert] Mugabe and [Emmerson] Mnangagwa matches and paraffin. The fire that burned created the immigration crisis we are living with.

“The courts have no choice but to uphold refugee laws and the constitution. If we want to solve the immigration crisis we have to go directly to the root of the problem namely the dictatorship in Zimbabwe,” Maimane said.

Meanwhile, Motsoaledi intends to fight the court judgment.

“The minister has already instructed the legal representatives to launch an application for leave to appeal against the judgments and the court orders without any further delay,” a statement by the department read.

The minister said the termination of the permits was not discriminatory to Zimbabweans as they would still be able to live in the country but had to apply for mainstream visas in absence of the permit programme.

Maimane said the government should not be silent on economic and political troubles faced by Zimbabwe residents.

“We cannot keep supporting Zanu-PF because of what they did during the liberation struggle. They are now the oppressor.

“To solve this issue, we need to make sure that there are free and fair elections in Zimbabwe in August.

“South Africa has influence on Zimbabwe and we must use it, more than we use our influence on Russia and Ukraine because this is happening in our neighbourhood. We must insist on this or else we do not endorse the election results.”

The former DA leader proposed that the Zimbabwe electoral commission should be audited by an international commission.

“The immigration crisis was caused by a democracy crisis in Zimbabwe. Political prisoners like Job Sikhala must be released. Legislation against free speech must be withdrawn. The army must pledge not to be involved in elections.

“As a robust constitutional democracy, we have a role to advance democracy in Africa and to defend democracy in Zimbabwe. To solve the immigration crisis in South Africa we must go directly to the source of the problem.”

Maimane’s remarks were debated on social platforms, with some supporting his view. Others said the governing party was not the cause of issues in Zimbabwe and interfering in the country’s affairs would be infringing on Zimbabwe’s sovereignty.