South Africa’s Home Affairs Ministry loses legal battle against ZEP holders

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – The Department of Home Affairs has lost its legal battle over Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEPs).

The Helen Suzman Foundation and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) previously took the Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi to court over his termination of the ZEP under the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, 2000 (PAJA).

The challenge was based on the grounds that the Minister’s decision was unlawful and unconstitutional and would impact over 175,000 Zimbabwean nationals holding ZEPs.

Many Zimbabweans live and work in South Africa due to their ZEPs, and many have lived there for over a decade.

In June 2023, the Pretoria High Court ruled in favour of the applicants, starting by finding minister’s decision procedurally unfair and infringing on the constitutional rights of ZEP holders.

The court said that the minister failed to conduct a fair “notice and comment” process, which meant that the decision was uniform and procedurally irrational.

“The High Court’s decision was set aside and remitted back to the minister to conduct a fair process that considers the views and interests of ZEP holders and the broader society,” said Norton Rose Fulbright, which represented CoRMSA in their case.

Although the minister appealed the High Court’s decision, with applications to the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal, the Constitutional Court dismissed the application for special leave to appeal on 18 June 2024.

The highest court in South Africa said that the application had no reasonable grounds for success.

“The Minister of Home Affairs is now required to comply with the High Court’s order. Any future decisions regarding the ZEP must be made in a fair and just manner, ensuring that the views and interests of ZEP holders are adequately considered,” said the experts.

“The ZEP will remain effective until 29 November 2025.” Businesstech

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