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SA Home Affairs Minister Motsoaledi’s bid to appeal Zimbabwean permits ruling dismissed in court

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GroundUp


  • The Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed a bid by the Minister of Home Affairs to appeal a ruling that the termination of the ZEP programme was unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid.
  • The court ruled there were no reasonable prospects of success.
  • Last year, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ordered Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to reconsider the termination of the programme following a fair, consultative process that complied with the relevant laws.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has dismissed with costs an application by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to appeal a Gauteng High Court in Pretoria judgment declaring the termination of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) programme to be unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid. This is according to GroundUp.

In a ruling handed down earlier this month, the court said the application for special leave to appeal was dismissed on the grounds that there was no reasonable prospect of success.

The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF), the primary litigant in the matter, said this meant the High Court ruling remained valid, unless the matter is referred to the Constitutional Court.

“The ZEP permits are therefore valid and allow holders to continue living in South Africa on the same terms and conditions prior to its unlawful termination,” the HSF said.The case was brought by the HSF and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa after the minister announced the end of the programme in 2021.

In their ruling, Judges Colleen Collis, Gcina Malindi and Mandlenkosi Motha (writing as the court) said the minister had made no attempt to solicit representations from those affected before he took the decision.

The invitation was “meaningless”, they wrote, and from affidavits before the court, it appeared that there was a “notable disdain for the value of public participation”.

The judges said the minister’s failure to consult, made the decision to terminate the programme unfair and irrational, because no attempt had been made to assess the impact on the ZEP holders and their children and the current conditions in Zimbabwe.

In November 2023, the HSF launched an urgent application seeking an “enforcement order” of the June 2023 ruling after the minister, failing to get leave to appeal from the Pretoria court, indicated he was intent on appealing by petition to the SCA. But the judges dismissed the application, saying it was not needed and that their judgment guaranteed the rights of ZEP holders until at least June 2024, despite the pending appeal.