The South African government has announced that it decided to do away with the special Zimbabwean Exemption Permit. This was announced by the Minister of the presidency Mondli Gungubele during a post-cabinet briefing on Thursday morning.

The decision by the cabinet could see scores of Zimbabweans living and working in SA having no option. But to return home they should not secure work permits and other relevant documents.

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“Cabinet considered the much-talked about ZEP and also noted the fake news being spread on these permits. The first Zimbabwean special dispensation started in 2009 and was called the Dispensation for Zimbabwe Permit.

“It provided for the documentation of qualifying Zimbabweans for a five-year period. In 2014, the dispensation was extended by three years and called the Zimbabwean Special Permit. The current ZEP was initiated in 2017 and comes to an end on December 31, 2021,” said Gungubele.

Gungubele said that following its deliberations, the cabinet decided to no longer issue extensions to the Zimbabwean special dispensations.


He said the government has, however, decided to give a 12-month grace period at the expiry of the current ZEP.

“During this period, the holders of this permit should apply for other permits appropriate to their particular status or situation.

“At the expiry of this 12-month period, those who are not successful will have to leave SA or be deported,” said Gungubele.

At its inception, the permit was meant to document Zimbabwean nationals who were in SA illegally.

Millions of Zimbabweans fled their country due to political turmoil and the collapse of the economy of the country under the-then president Robert Mugabe, whose ZANU-PF party was battling with the opposition

The special permit catered to Zimbabweans who had a valid passport, who were employed in the country, who ran businesses, or who were accredited to study. They also had to have a clear criminal record.

SOURCE: Sowetan Live