Zimbabweans Told ‘Hands Off’ Dr. Motsoaledi

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The South African government has come out in defence of Home Affairs Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi saying social media attacks on him over the discontinued Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) were misplaced.

ZEP permits expired a week ago and will not be renewed. About 180 000 Zimbabweans holding such permits will be affected.

Some Zimbabweans who have taken umbrage with the matter have been posting derogatory messages on social media targetting Dr. Motsoaledi.

South Africa Cabinet Spokesperson Phumla Williams on Thursday said, “we find the numerous social media attacks on Minister of Home Affairs Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi misplaced and should be condemned in the strongest terms”.

Williams said the now expired ZEP, which was initiated in 2017, was deliberated by Cabinet on the 24 November 2021.

“Out of those deliberations Cabinet decided to no longer issue extensions to the Zimbabwean special dispensations,” explained Williams.

Commenting on the matter, the Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gugubele said “the decisions of the executive are never decisions of an individual, rather they represent a collective decision”.    

Williams said Cabinet also decided on a 12 months grace period at the expiry of the ZEP on 31 December 2021.

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

She said the government’s desire was to ensure that eligible Zimbabweans can regularise their stay in South Africa.

“We appeal to the holders of this permit to use the 12 months to regularise their status in South Africa,” said Williams.

She warned that South Africa was governed by the rule of law, and as such all within its borders were expected to adhere to the law.

“The enforcement of border controls are applied to all nationalities who try to enter the country illegally as part of this country’s border management policies,” said Williams.