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Zimbabweans in South Africa on exemption permits safe for now after ConCourt rules in their favour 

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By IOL


THE Constitutional Court last week dismissed an application by the Minister of Home Affairs for leave to appeal a June 2023 Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, judgment which held that the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) had been unlawfully terminated.

The Helen Suzman Foundation said the June 2023 judgment was unequivocal in holding that the minister is obliged to follow a fair consultation process, which duly considers the rights of those affected by terminating the ZEP, before he be lawfully allowed to do so.

The Constitutional Court’s order affirmed with finality that this most basic of legal duties binds the minister, notwithstanding changes in office that may occur once a new government is formed, when deciding the ZEP’s future, the foundation said.

“It is a vital affirmation – for ZEP holders and South African citizens alike – that principles of fair hearing and rational government are indispensable to our constitutional democracy,” said Naseema Fakir, executive director of the foundation.

The court last year dismissed minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s application for leave to appeal the earlier judgment, which declared his decision to terminate the ZEP programme as unconstitutional.

This meant that the minister had to go back to the drawing board on the issue and that the more than 178 000 holders of ZEP permits will be safe for now.

But hot on the heels of the judgment, the minister indicated that he would further appeal the decision. The Constitutional Court, however, on Tuesday dismissed the minister’s application for special leave to appeal.

In June, the court granted an order declaring the minister’s decision to terminate the ZEP, to grant a limited extension of 12 months, and to refuse further extensions beyond June last year, as unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid.

The minister was directed to reconsider his decision and ensure that any further decision complies with administrative action rights, as contained in the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.

In particular, the minister was told to consult with interested NGOs, the public and ZEP holders.

The minister applied for leave to appeal that decision, which was refused by three judges, hence him approaching the apex court.

The refusal by the court to entertain the appeal, is that the ZEP will remain in force until the end of November next year.