LETTER | Let’s be human

There is no data showing that sending Zimbabwe Exemption Permit holders packing will fix SA

03 August 2022 - 10:11 By Terrence Kabatebate
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Zimbabwean migrants at Beitbridge border post. File photo.
Zimbabwean migrants at Beitbridge border post. File photo.

This is in response to the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders who have been affected by the decision made by government.

The thing one needs to understand is that we are humans. The 178,000 affected are humans who were legal in the country for 11 years, embedded in the system in every way.

When they first issued the permits, there were no restrictions and no instruction that they would not be renewed. The first permit issued, which was the Zimbabwe Dispensation Permit, was for four years, and only stated work. It did not state it was non-renewable. Zimbabweans on the permits expected this was the beginning of the process of being legal in the country, leading to permanent residence. 

During the 11 years of being in the system, one would have acquired a lot of possessions and financial obligations, like any other human. With the permits, one was able to open accounts, buy cars on credit, buy houses and open a business. One could also have policies, such as funeral policies for children and spouses. One could open policies for education of their children.  One would have been making contributions to medical aid schemes. Permit holders basically had all the options available to a citizen for 11 years.

Is it human to tell a person after all that to go back and start again? Removing ZEP holders will not change unemployment.

Instead, we should consider how the children will be affected. They were used to a certain curriculum, and now have to be displaced. We also need to consider the financial institutions providing ZEP holders with bank loans and so on will be at a loss because of this sudden move.

There is no real data showing that sending the ZEP holders packing will ease unemployment as they were in the system for 11 years. Around 178,000 people will not change the outcome of the situation SA faces regarding youth unemployment.

ZEP holders were in line with the law and contributing to the same system that wants to make them illegal. More than 10 years is not a temporary stay in any circumstance or situation.  The people who will be most affected are the children who will have to adjust and relocate abruptly after years of cohesion.

Let’s be human.

Terrence Kabatebate

Cape Town

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