‘Reputable’ News Houses, National Broadcaster Behind ZEP Update Misinformation

There is a lot of confusion in the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders community after reputable news publications and the national broadcasters of SA and Zimbabwe shared inaccurate information about the latest developments on the DHA Immigration Directive No 11 of 2021.

SA Trucker was showered with a lot of questions surrounding the latest updates on the ZEP permits, hence we dug deep to find where the confusion was emanating from.

Before venturing into the confusion fuelled by the media houses, I will share the status quo of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit.

  1. The SA cabinet’s decision not to renew or issue another permit at the expiry of the ZEP Permit still stands with no changes. This means that the cabinet’s November 25 decision to not issue another permit after the ZEP expiry remains valid. The grace period of 12 months starting from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022 also remains in force.
  2. During this period, as the cabinet decision on ZEP permits states, ZEP holders are encouraged to apply for mainstream visas suitable to their status.

DHA Immigration Directive No 10 of 2021 which was meant to address organisations dealing with ZEP holders and travel conditions for the holders has been withdrawn.

As noted in paragraphs 3 and four of the Immigration Directive No 10 of 2021 below:

Paragraph 3

Organisations: All Companies, Employers, Learning Institutes and Banks are to kindly note that applicants who are in possession of a ZEP expiring on 31 December 2021 must be allowed to continue with their services, provided they submit proof of application for a mainstream visa in terms of the Immigration Act and Immigration Regulations. Proof of application must be a VFS receipt.

Paragraph 4

Travel Conditions: All applicants with a ZEP must be allowed to travel freely in and out of South Africa until 31 December 2022, when the 12 (twelve) month grace period ends, after which they will only be allowed to travel in and out of South Africa if in possession of a valid visa.

On 13 December 2021, the DHA issued Immigration Directive No 11 of 2021 announcing the withdrawal of Immigration Directive No 10 of 2021. This effectively meant that what was stated in paragraphs 3 and 4 above would become null and void.

Immigration Directive No 11 of 2021

Withdrawal of Immigration Directive on the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP)

IMMIGRATION DIRECTIVE NO. 11 OF 2021 ZIMBABWEAN EXEMPTION PERMIT HOLDERS (ZEP) (WITHDRAWAL)

Kindly note that Immigration Directive No 10 of 2021 is hereby withdrawn. The contents of this Immigration Directive must please be brought to the attention of all officials and applicants concerned.
This Immigration Directive follows Immigration Directive No 10 of 2021 which deals with: ZIMBABWEAN
EXEMPTION PERMIT HOLDERS (ZEP)

Confusion

The misinformation started when publications mistook the withdrawal of the Immigration Directive as the withdrawal of the Cabinet decision to not issue special permits after the expiry of the ZEP.

News quickly spread like wildfire online as reputable media houses wrongly reported the correct situation of the matter.

South Africa Drops Plan to Send Home 200,000 Zimbabweans on Exemption Permit

South Africa Reverses Plan to Send 200 000 Zimbabweans Back Home

Reprieve for Zimbabweans facing the threat of deportation and loss of jobs

Inaccurate reports of zep update
Screenshot showing the inaccurate headlines by reputable media houses

These headlines still dawn Google News and as reputable as the media houses are one is bound to believe their reports. Some of them remain there but the contents of the articles have been changed without any notice to the reader that, the link they followed was updated to remove the misinformation it contained.

As if that was not enough, the state broadcaster went ahead and misreported proceedings of a court hearing in which ZEP Holders Association and African Amity were challenging DHA’s Immigration Directive No 10 of 2021.

SABC News posted a video containing inaccurate information about a court case in which ZEP Holders Association and Africa Amity challenged the DHA over the non-renewal of ZEP permits and the contents of Immigration Directive No 10 of 2021.

ZEP Holders Association and African Amity were supposed to faceoff with the DHA in court for two issues.

  1. DHA Immigration Directive No 10 of 2021, and
  2. Cabinet’s decision not to issue special permits to ZEP Holders.

ZEP Holders’ challenge to the DHA Immigration Directive No 10 of 2021 was scheduled to be heard in court today, 14 December 2021 but since the DHA had already withdrawn the directive on 13 December 2021, the two parties ended up having an out of court settlement.

The challenge on the cabinet’s decision not to issue special permits after the expiry of the ZEP has not been heard in court yet.

SABC News went ahead and posted inaccurate information on social media.

“A decision by a Home Affairs Director-General not to renew Zimbabwe Exemption Permits to more than 250 000 Zimbabweans in South Africa has been overturned,” reported SABC but they later edited the post.

The edited post reads;

The High Court in Pretoria has removed from its roll an urgent application by lawyers to rescind a Home Affairs decision not to renew the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits.

CORRECTION | Editorial Note: Previously this post stated: “A decision by a Home Affairs Director-General not to renew Zimbabwe Exemption Permits to more than 250 000 Zimbabweans in South Africa has been overturned.” This has been corrected.

Conclusion

  • The decision by the cabinet to not renew the ZEP permit still stands.
  • Banks and institutions dealing with ZEP holders will treat the permit as valid until 31 December 2022.
  • The ZEP Holders Association’s challenge to have the decision to not renew the ZEP permit is still pending.
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