Foundation back to court over Zim permits

Henry

The Helen Suzman Foundation turned to court again on Wednesday in an attempt to enforce a previous order by the High Court regarding the exemption permits issued to Zimbabweans.

The foundation asks that the permits remain valid while dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Internal Affairs, is launching a fair and rational investigation into the effects it will have if the permits are not renewed.

“The foundation is forced to submit the application,” says Nicole Fritz, executive director of the foundation.

The High Court found in June this year that the government’s decision at the time to end the Zimbabwean emission permit program (known as a ZEP) was unconstitutional.

Motsoaledi applied for leave to appeal shortly afterwards.

Fritz says that after the minister indicated that he intended to appeal the court ruling, the foundation asked him to declare the release permits valid until the appeal process was completed.

“The minister refused,” she says.

The court found in October that Motsoaledi’s appeal application had “no prospects of success”.

The foundation apparently asked again that he comply with the original ruling in June, but the minister again refused.

“He has indicated that he plans to continue his appeal by approaching the Court of Appeal,” says Fritz.

“It is in the light of such unwavering resistance to the law’s most basic demand – that those in need are owed a fair and rational process when their rights are harmed – that the foundation is once again asking for the court’s intervention to end the debilitating uncertainty that permit holders face through the endure the minister’s actions, to lighten up.”

The foundation’s application will be heard on Wednesday, and Fritz says that without it there is a risk that the High Court’s previous ruling will be suspended when Motsoaledi submits his application to the Court of Appeal.

“This means that all the exemption permits issued to Zimbabweans will expire in two months from now.”

About 180,000 Zimbabweans live and work in South Africa after the government granted them work visas in 2009. At the time, the Zimbabweans fled the political and economic crisis in their country of birth and many of them have been living in South Africa perfectly legally for almost 15 years.

“Without a court order that offers certainty to the permit holders, their future – and that of their children – will depend on the possibility of the minister granting them piecemeal extensions,” says Fritz.

“Government decision-making of this kind – for permit holders and South Africans – has no place in a democratic country.”