South African employers of Zimbabwean nationals using the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) have been advised to start making preparations ahead of December 2022 when the 12-month grace period given to holders expires.

Chief Executive for the National Employers’ Association of South Africa, Gerhard Papenfus, said it is wrong and immoral that thousands of Zimbabweans, who are reliable employees, will lose their jobs. Said Papenfus:

There are different kinds of permits, and visas and just to make sure that your employees fall under this dispensation then you need to be prepared to terminate those employees’ services at the end of the year which is in our view very wrong.

It’s very unfortunate because these are very valuable employees in the hospital sector so business is very unhappy with this arrangement.

They work very hard and are very reliable. So this is a loss for the country, it’s very wrong and I think it’s immoral. So losing good employees is very difficult.

In November 2021, South Africa’s cabinet decided to end special permits that allow close to 180 000 Zimbabweans to live and work in the country.

The ZEPs were granted to Zimbabweans who moved to South Africa before 2009.

The temporary measure was meant to regularise their presence in the country and allow Zimbabweans access to services such as banking.

The one-year grace period expires at the end of 2022. The SA government says that in December all people under the permit, who fail to get other permits, must leave the country.