South African High Court Deems Government’s Decision on Zimbabwean Residency Permits Unconstitutional

South African High Court Deems Government’s Decision on Zimbabwean Residency Permits Unconstitutional

…By Roland Peterson for TDPel Media. The high court in South Africa has declared the government’s decision to not renew temporary residency permits for approximately 180,000 Zimbabweans living and working in the country as “unconstitutional.”


In 2009, Pretoria granted four-year visas to around 178,000 Zimbabweans who had fled economic and political crises in their home country following violent elections.

These visas have been extended multiple times since then.

Legal Battle and Court Ruling

However, in 2021, the South African government announced that there would be no further extensions after December 2022, potentially leading to a mass expulsion of Zimbabwean workers.


In response, the Helen Suzman Foundation, a South African rights and democracy NGO, took the government to court, challenging the decision to terminate the permits.

The court ruled that Pretoria’s decision was “unlawful, unconstitutional, and invalid.”

Government’s Response and Further Steps

The Ministry of Home Affairs released a statement mentioning that Interior Minister Aaron Motsoaledi will announce “further steps that will be taken, including appeals.”

Meanwhile, the Helen Suzman Foundation welcomed the judgment, recognizing its “huge significance” for the permit holders who have legally resided in South Africa for nearly fifteen years.

Economic Migration and Job Challenges

South Africa, as the continent’s most industrialized economy, attracts economic migrants seeking better job prospects.


However, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration faces pressure to address the country’s high unemployment rate, currently at 32.9%, which is one of the highest in the world.


The South African high court’s ruling against the government’s decision on Zimbabwean residency permits has provided relief to thousands of individuals who faced the possibility of expulsion.

As the legal battle continues and further steps are considered, the judgment has brought attention to the issue of economic migration and the challenge of addressing unemployment in South Africa.


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