Motsoaledi extends exemption permits for Zimbabwe nationals for another two years |

City Press

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has announced that the exemption permits granted to Basotho and Zimbabwe nationals living in South Africa will be extended for a further two years.

This decision comes as a relief to the estimated 54 653 holders of the Lesotho Exemption Permit (LEP) and 178 000 holders of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP). Both permits were due to expire on 31 December 2023, leaving many facing an uncertain future.

Speaking at a media briefing in Tshwane on Friday, Motsoaledi said the decision to extend the special permits and issue new permits that will expire by the end of 2025 was taken in terms of Section 31(2)(b) of the Immigration Act.

The legislation gives the minister of home affairs wide powers to grant a category of foreign nationals the rights of permanent residency in South Africa for a specified or unspaced period due to special circumstances.

Motsoaledi said the directives for the new permits, which allow Basotho and Zimbabwean nationals to work, study or conduct business legally in South Africa, would be published in the government gazette on Monday.

He said that affected nationals from Lesotho and Zimbabwe would be eligible to apply for the new exemption permits, subject to specific terms and conditions. The new permits to be issued will expire on 29 November 2025.

The decision to extend the ZEP comes as the department of home affairs is challenging a June ruling by the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. The court declared Motsoaledi’s termination of the special permit as illegal and unconstitutional, citing the department’s failure to follow a fair process in accordance with legislation.

The legal action was brought by the Helen Suzman Foundation and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in SA.

Motsoaledi is appealing the high court judgment to the Supreme Court of Appeal. He believes that the finding by the court that public participation is required when a decision is taken to cancel a permit, for the category of foreign national, sets a dangerous precedent.

The minister said:

You are aware of the decision we took about Zimbabweans, which, as I’ve said, is in court. It’s now time for the expiration date for the Lesotho nationals’ exemption permit. Whatever decision we take about them should not differ in any way.


“In other words, whatever treatment we give to Zimbabweans and Basotho must be the same, otherwise we will be very inconsistent with what we are doing.”

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