Zimbabwean exemption permits

The Department of Home Affairs implemented the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits, (ZEP) in 2017. The ZEP, provided legal protection for Zimbabwean nationals to live, work and study in South Africa.  Cabinet decided in January 2022, that this arrangement is to be terminated by 31 December 2022.  Accordingly, Zimbabwean employees on the ZEP system must apply for a work permit or some other form of special permit or visa to remain employed after 31 December 2022. Continued employment after this date without the required documentation will render that employment illegal.

Members should therefore observe the following guidelines: –

  • Members are advised to inspect all Zimbabwean employees’ passports to determine under which system or permit the employees are currently subjected;
  • Members should inform their Zimbabwean employees whose permits are to lapse that as from 1 January 2023, their current ZEP permits will no longer be recognised;
  • Members should inform those ZEP permit holders to make applications for the necessary permits or visas at the Department of Home Affairs immediately;
  • The ZEP permit holders must provide the member with proof that they have applied for the continuation of their permit or visa which will secure their continued employment as of 1 January 2023. Proof must be in the form of a receipt from a Visa Facilitation Centre;
  • Members are further advised to conduct a follow-up document inspection in December 2022 to determine whether those Zimbabwean employees have indeed obtained the proper documents and, if not, to then proceed with the appropriate process. Assistance from the RMI’s IR Specialists should be sought in this regard.

The Department of Home Affairs is directed by the Immigration Act to contribute to an environment in which economic growth is protected through the employment of needed foreign labour, facilitating foreign investment and enabling the entry of exceptionally skilled or qualified immigrants.

If you have any queries in this regard, please contact your local IR Specialist:  IR Contacts – Retail Motor Industry Organisation (rmi.org.za).