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South Africa Faces Legal Fight Over Zimbabwean Work Permits

  • Helen Suzman Foundation filed lawsuit over permit withdrawal
  • About three million foreign nationals live in South Africa
Anti-Zimbabwean Exemption Permit renewals protesters in Pretoria, South Africa in November 2021.

Anti-Zimbabwean Exemption Permit renewals protesters in Pretoria, South Africa in November 2021.

Photographer: Phill Magakoe/AFP/Getty Images

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South Africa’s decision to end a special dispensation that allows about 178,000 Zimbabweans to live and work in the country is being challenged in court by a civil rights group. 

So-called Zimbabwe Exemption Permits were granted to the nation’s nationals who moved to South Africa before 2009. South Africa’s cabinet issued a statement in November last year saying the holders’ permission to stay in the country would expire on Dec. 31, but they would have a 12-month grace permit to apply for alternative permits under the usual immigration framework.