Local and international media have fanned the confusion over the renewal of the permits, with headlines incorrectly stating that the permits would be renewed.
HOME Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi on Tuesday clarified that that no rescission was made on the recent Cabinet decision that resolved that Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP), which expire on December 31, would not be renewed.
“Absolutely, that Cabinet decision stands. Absolutely,” Motsoaledi said in an interview with Independent Media on Tuesday.
Local and international media have fanned the confusion over the renewal of the permits for the approximately 200,000 Zimbabweans who hold the special permit.
Numerous headlines on Tuesday incorrectly stated that the Cabinet decision had been revoked and that the permits would be renewed – sparking frenzy on social media platforms, particularly Twitter.
Motsoaledi said his department takes the blame for the confusion.
“It is true, the confusion erupted from the department, from officials in the department. They issued a circular purporting to clarify a Cabinet decision. The Cabinet decision is very clear: it does not need any circular to clarify it. What has been withdrawn, and I think what caused the confusion now, yesterday (Monday), I instructed that the circular be withdrawn – because I don’t see any purpose it is serving,” Motsoaledi explained.
“That circular was not even supposed to be issued. It was serving no purpose but just causing confusion. The Cabinet decision was clear. It was outlined by the Minister in the Presidency (Mondli) Gungubele on what the decision was about. Matters should have rested there, and they indeed must rest there.”
In November, Cabinet resolved and announced that the ZEP would not be extended.
At the same time, Gungubele said South Africa was giving the holders of the special permit 12 months to apply for other permits “appropriate to their particular status or situation” in the mainstream South African permit regime.
Those who are not successful will have to leave South Africa or face deportation, it was announced.
Motsoaledi said the ZEP permits faced a plethora of limitations.
“That permit was special. It is not in any act in South Africa. It was under special circumstances and you can’t live ‘special’ forever. One of the conditions of that permit was that you are not to apply for any other status, meaning even people who qualify for a higher status could not apply for it,” he said.
“By higher status, what do I mean? You are aware that in South Africa if you marry a South African, it doesn’t matter from which part of the world you are from, once you marry a South African you have the right to apply for citizenship…
“Now, in terms for the ZEP, even if you attain that status of marriage, you cannot apply for any other status – which is unfair.”
He said the special permit for Zimbabweans “had to come to an end”.