Nelson Ndlovu’s wife migrated a year ago to a developed country abroad after obtaining an important visitor visa to work as a support worker. Then the whole family joined her over three months ago, Ndlovu as her husband and their children as dependents.
“Two of my children and one grandson were born in South Africa, but I had to uproot everything and everything,” explains Ndlovu, whose name was changed after he asked not to be identified because of fears of retribution.
“I had to sell most of the things, including the car, and some things I had to give away.”
In light of the first directive from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) in November 2021 to revoke the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP), some permit holders have sought opportunities that will give them residency in other countries.
Read more at The Daily Maverick: Aaron Motswalide yells over Zimbabwe’s exemption decision, and applies for leave to appeal
Talking to Daily Maverick Over the phone, Ndlovu says they were “just lucky.” They created profiles on job-search platforms like Indeed when they noticed “the space is shrinking” – becoming “non-existent” – for ZEP permit holders in South Africa.
We’ve seen it if the problem affects us [the parents who are business owners]It will definitely affect our children.”
“There are plenty of ZEP holders, even before the non-renewal of permit was issued, who have lost their positions as math and science teachers in public schools…they have been replaced by South Africans…they have been discarded…they have been dumped. They have just been dethroned; the unions have been their victim.”
Ndlovu is currently going through what he refers to as a “reboot” as he looks for work that aligns with his previous skill set, experience, and income. His age may complicate his job prospects as the 50-year-old is nearing retirement. Not the case for his children, who are in their twenties and have the chance to find a wider range of jobs abroad.
The entire family currently holds residence visas that give them permanent residence and the chance to become permanent residents within two years and citizens at the end of three years.
“The migration process is straightforward,” says Ndlovu.
His wife applied for a residence visa within a month of her arrival.
Prior to directing the cancellation of ZEP and the transfer of Ndlovus abroad, they ran a well-established and profitable company running corporate training programmes, making use of teaching skills and BA qualifications in education. He majored in educational planning and administration as well as policy studies.
They focused on programs such as occupational health and safety for mines, from Rustenburg to Secunda, and other companies, and later provided personal finance services. As a result of the uncertainty caused by the cancellation of ZEP, the business was closed.
Talking to Az in 2019Home Minister Arun Motswalide said: “We cannot stop these special permits [for Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Angolans] If the problems that led to those special permits are not resolved.”
He added, “Unfortunately, Zimbabwe’s permit was for four years and it didn’t get normal in those four years. We will renew, but we can’t automatically as an administration. We have to discuss [it] with the Cabinet.
These statements are consistent with a permit From the presentation to the Home Affairs Committee by the Minister and Director General of the DHA, Livhwani Makhod, on 13 September 2022: “The waivers were a temporary measure, pending improvement in the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.”
Given the current political and economic context in Zimbabwe and the above statements, among other aspects, the abolition of ZEP appears inconsistent with the Minister’s previous statements.
In particular, the World Bank notes In its March 30, 2023 updates that Zimbabwe has a “high rate of poverty and vulnerability,” while Human Rights Watch reports Zimbabwe continues to experience deteriorating situations with regard to accountability for violations, the rights to food, water and sanitation, forced evictions, and children’s rights as of 2022.
ZEP holders were given a 12-month reprieve on June 28 when a full bench in Gauteng High Court in Pretoria found that the annulment was Illegal, unconstitutional and irrationalcalling it an “unjustified restriction of rights”. DM
ZEP holders who need advice can contact LifeLine through WhatsApp at +27 65989 9238. You can also visit lifelinesa.co.za or call +27 86132 2322 for more information.