Motsoaledi advises Zimbabwean Exemption Permit holders to ignore ‘false hope created by HSF’

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has slammed the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) for lodging legal action to challenge his department’s decision to terminate the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP).

Zimbabwe Exemption Permit non-renewal

In November last year, Cabinet decided not to renew the ZEP beyond the end of December this year, a decision that is likely to affect more than 150,0000 Zimbabwean nationals who live, study and work legally in South Africa with the permit.

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The Department of Home Affairs on Tuesday lashed out at the HSF, saying the foundation’s legal action was a perfect example of the destructive role that some non-governmental organisations (NGO) were capable of.

The department’s spokesperson Siya Qoza said since Motsoaledi announced the decision not to extend the ZEP, he had engaged with several members of civil society with a view to manage the consequences of the decision collectively.

However, Qoza said the HSF had been “conspicuous by its silence” by not raising their concerns directly with the minister or the department.

“There’s a disturbing and growing trend by some NGOs to sabotage the polycentric and policy laden decisions taken by government by using the courts. This development must be nipped in the bud as soon as possible,” he said in a statement.

The department claimed that South Africa was now under the “dictatorship of some of the NGOs with some having faceless and dubious funders”.

“Their ultimate aim is to assist in the dislodgement of the government of the day from power by all means available. The decision of the minister not to extend the exemptions granted to Zimbabwean nationals has been widely supported by South African citizens.

“The HSF, in its desperate bid to blackmail the nation, is twisting the support for the minister’s decision by the majority of South African citizens as being ‘xenophobic’. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

‘Armchair critics’

The HSF’s access to the courts is guaranteed in the Constitution, but this, according to the department, should not be a licence to abuse the Bill of Rights by some “armchair critics”.

“The minister and the Department of Home Affairs will vigorously defend the lawful, reasonable and rational decision of the minister. We cannot be expected to throw up our hands in despair and fail the people of South Africa.

“Having said that, the minister’s door is always open for constructive engagement, rather than waste the ever shrinking government resources to defend unnecessary court challenges.”

Motsoaledi called on all affected Zimbabwean nationals to ignore the “false hope created by the HSF” and adhere to the procedures outlined by his department in various public notices and communication.

“If HSF has the interests of Africans in the continent at heart, the minister expects it to play its constructive role in assisting the affected Zimbabwean nationals to apply for one or the other visas provided for in the Immigration Act.”

Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe

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