Operation Dudula takes to streets over Zimbabwe permit extension

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By BusinessLive

Members of Operation Dudula demonstrated outside the high court in Pretoria on Monday in opposition to the Zimbabwe exemption permit (ZEP) extension.

The lobby group wants to join a court application by the Helen Suzman Foundation that seeks a review of the lawfulness of the decision by home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi to terminate the ZEP.

The foundation wants the high court to declare the decision by Motsoaledi to terminate the ZEP and grant a limited extension of 12 months unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid. The court application is being opposed by the home affairs minister.

The foundation is still pursuing its legal challenge of the termination of the ZEP, despite Motsoaledi extending the permit until June.

Operation Dudula has applied to the court to join as a respondent in the application.

The national deputy chairperson of Operation Dudula, Dan Radebe, said his organisation was dissatisfied with the extension of ZEPs.

“We are here to demonstrate our dissatisfaction with the extensions of ZEPs because the moment you extend it for another six months, it means you are saying to South Africans that they have become accustomed to poverty, so they can hold on for another six months while these foreigners take South African jobs and things like that,” he said.

“We are here to demonstrate to the court that we are not happy with the extension of the ZEP, and this is not limited to the ZEP Today is also about us applying to be part of the proceedings.”

Radebe said in the application sought to have all ZEPs declared illegal “because they were never gazetted”.

“I don’t remember in parliament or any document where South Africans were consulted — somebody just woke up and decided to issue the Zimbabweans with exemptions,” he said.

The matter will be heard in April.

Responding to the demonstrations, advocate Simba Chitando, representing the permit holders in the matter against the home affairs minister, said Operation Dudula’s arguments were self-defeating. SA’s economic survival remained rooted in regional trade, not in isolation, Chitando said.

“It will not create jobs for ordinary South Africans but will instead lead to job losses, regional isolation collapse at a time when SA can least afford it,” he said.

Chitando said his organisation, the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit Holders Association, will continue with its litigation to ensure that children of permit holders will be registered in schools and for matric examinations.

“We will pursue lawful means to create a safe environment for Zimbabweans who elect to be in SA based on the principles of the rule of law in a constitutional democracy … we act not just for the interest of ZEP holders but also for the best interest of SA and its standing in the world.”

It was reported in September that four out of five of the almost 1-million Zimbabweans who are officially outside the country live in SA.

SA is officially home to 773,246 of the 908,913 Zimbabwean nationals that make up the diaspora, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency. The data provides the first official estimate of the number of Zimbabweans living abroad after a census was carried out in April, said the agency’s director-general Taguma Mahonde.

The diaspora numbers might be “undercounted” and could be much bigger than the data released by ZimStat, economist Tony Hawkins said at the time.

Estimates by human rights groups indicate that up to a quarter of the Zimbabwe population, or about 4-million people, left the country after more than two decades of economic crisis that forced them to seek work elsewhere.