South Africa extends exemption permits for 178,000 Zimbabweans

▪︎ _2-year extension allows the Zimbabweans to stay in South Africa until November 29, 2025_

CAPE TOWN – The South African government on Friday extended the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) by two more years to the end of November 2025 after ministers earlier said the special dispensation would not be renewed beyond the end of this year.

Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said 54,000 Lesotho nationals would also have their stay under a similar scheme, first introduced in a bid to account for undocumented immigrants from the two countries.

At least 178,000 Zimbabwe nationals who are holders of the ZEP faced an uncertain future after the South African government initially announced that it was terminating the scheme at the end of 2022, before it was extended by six months June this year and again to December 31, 2023.

“There is no need for them to apply for new exemption permits as the validity of their expired permits has been extended,” Motsoaledi told journalists.

He said the directives will be published in the Government Gazette on Monday.

The ZEP holders will not be entitled to apply for permanent residence under the Immigration Act or any other provisions in any other law, irrespective of the period of stay, Motsoaledi added.

They will be allowed freedom of movement between their birth country and South Africa or any other country.

“A holder of the exemption permit cannot change his or her status in South Africa as contemplated in section 10 (6) of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 during the validity of the permit issued. When a holder of the exemption due to expire on December 31, 2023, or such extended period apply for a new exemption permit, he or she must disclose and/or register all the minor children born and staying in SA,” Motsoaledi said.

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