It is common to find foreigners employed within a workplace in South Africa, specifically Zimbabwean Nationals. Business Owners were recently confronted with the impact the Governments’ recent decision to revoke Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP’s) for Zimbabwean Nationals has on their business.
ZEP’s, previously known as ZSP (Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permits,) were implemented by Cabinet during 2009 in an attempt to assist and aid Zimbabwean Nationals in their quest to seek employment and livelihoods in South Africa without obtaining the required legal status as per the Immigration Act 13 of 2002.
On 29 November 2021, the Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs issued a directive confirming that no further extensions will be granted to Zimbabwean Nationals who are ZEP holders. This decision was made due to South Africa’s current financial situation, high levels of unemployment and the prospect of Zimbabwe’s economic recovery.
While ZEP’s have expired on 31 December 2021, the Cabinet has granted a grace period of 12 months until 31 December 2022 to all ZEP holders, rendering them sufficient time and opportunity to legalise their status in South Africa in terms of the Immigration Act.
Business owners should first and foremost establish who within their workforce is currently employed on a ZEP. Once this has been established, employees should be allowed to continue rendering their services to the company during the grace period. Secondly, business owners must embark on a consultation and notification process to inform all ZEP holder employees that they are required to furnish their employer with proof that a Visa application has been submitted to Visa Facilitation Services Global (VFS) before 31 December 2022. These consultations and notifications should be written down and kept on the employees’ records for future reference. Failure to provide the relevant proof of application or a valid Visa/Permit may affect the employees’ capacity to remain employed in South Africa once the grace period has expired.
It remains crucial that business owners and Zimbabwean nationals comply with the directives issued by the Department of Home Affairs and the relevant South African Labour legislation during this time. While the services of such ZEP holders might be affected due to them not being able to lawfully work in the country beyond 31 December 2022, business owners will still be required to comply with procedural and substantively fair procedures to terminate such employees as per the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995. Kindly contact your SEESA labour legal advisors for more information and guidance in this regard.
Contact your SEESA Labour Legal Advisor to assist your business with any Exemption Permit related queries you might have. Alternatively, SMS the word “SEESA” to 45776 for an expert legal advisor to contact you.
About the Author:
Alicia du Plessis started her career at SEESA in 2019 and is currently a Legal Advisor at SEESA’s Pretoria branch. She obtained her BCom Law degree in 2016 and LLB in 2018.
- Media briefing of Department of Home Affairs: www.dha.gov.za Minister Motsoaledi welcomes the decision of the High Court: Gauteng Local Division, Pretoria to struck from the roll urgent applications by Zimbabwe Exemption Permit holders for lack of urgency 30 December 2021
- Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr: cliffedekkerhofmeyr.com The Department of Home Affairs provides clarity on the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit 06 December 2021
- Employment Law
- News 24: news24.com Tension between Pretoria, Harare over expired permits for Zimbabweans living in South Africa 05 January 2022