Week Of High Drama As Zimbabwean Lawyer Files Legal Papers Seeking Granting Of Permanent Residency
The Sunday Express
There is never a dull moment in the life of top Zimbabwean lawyer – Advocate Simba Chitando. This week he filed what is arguably the single biggest class action – and touched a hornet’s nest over the court papers.
This is how it played out:
This week the Sunday Express Newsmaker of the Week is Advocate Chitando, the Zimbabwean lawyer who is now at the centre of nearly a quarter of a million Zimbabweans who were issued temporary permits in South Africa since 2009.
This is how his week went by:
Monday 18: – Moneyweb news website reports that up to 250 000 are asking the Johannesburg High Court to grant them permanent residence, a pathway to citizenship. The report goes viral and is shared widely among social media groups – immediately eliciting mixed comments, emotions, commentaries and legal discussion.
Ahead of the expiry of the permits in November, the Zimbabweans are challenging the government position that the permits do not entitle the holder to apply for permanent residence in South Africa.
Under South Africa’s immigration law, foreigners can apply for South African citizenship through naturalisation if they have held a permanent residence permit for at least five years.
In April 2009, South Africa’s cabinet approved what was known as the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project (DZP) in a bid to document Zimbabweans living and working illegally in Africa’s most industrialised nation.
Some 295 000 Zimbabweans applied for the five-year permits and just over 245 000 were issued, allowing permit holders to work, conduct business and study in South Africa.
Those permits started expiring in December 2014, prompting the government to introduce a new permit scheme called the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permits (ZSPs), which were valid for three years.
Nearly 198 000 ZSPs were issued, according to the Department of Home Affairs. When the ZSPs expired in 2017 they were replaced by Zimbabwean Exemption Permits, or ZEPs.
According to Advocate Chitando, who is representing the applicants in the case: “The problem faced by many hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans in SA is that they have been here for 10 years or longer under a variety of different permits, and it is generally conceded that they make a huge contribution to the SA economy, yet these permits do not allow them to enjoy the benefits that come with permanent residence, such as full access to banking facilities, or the right to accumulate pension savings.
Tuesday 19: There is no rest – if there is anything called rest for Advocate Chitando. On Tuesday he finished the charge sheet that will be used by Zanu-PF to take the United States Of America to court – over the sanctions on Zimbabwe – blamed for wrecking untold misery upon Zimbabwe, its economy, its people and damaging its international relations. This coming week the document is the legal basis for an anti-sanctions march planned for Pretoria.
Wednesday 20: Advocate Simba Chitando goes live on ENCA with news anchor Thulasizwe Simelane – with 15 minutes of analysis of how the legal case that he is now leading – its chances of success, and how it is the biggest class action ever in South Africa’s history.
Chitando tells ENCA’s Simelane: “We argue that it is past time to grant permanent residence to those Zimbabweans who have been living and working in SA in a kind of no-man’s land.
“We believe it is reasonable to expect to be granted permanent residence when the ZEPs expire, which they do in December 2021.”
Later same day Advocate Chitando stays close to the news as he does a radio interview with Kaya FM: and says that he couldn’t have taken on the case if he did not think that it would succeed.
He reiterates that the grounds for the permanent residence to be granted are good, he denies that there is any politics at play, and says that even if people say that the timing of the court application is bad: there is no better time to do it than now – because the permits are going to expire in December anyway – and this is be best time to engage the government and test out the matter in the courts.
Thursday 21: Advocate Chitando spends the day meeting NGOs and prominent Zimbabweans who are joining the case in support of the cause of the Zimbabweans.
Friday 22: Adv Chitando files court papers which accuse the United States of America and the European Union of violation of international law by imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe – without any legal basis for the action, and for implementing a violent regime change agenda against the government of Zimbabwe – all this outside of United Nations, international law and tramples on the sovereignty of Zimbabwe.
For being in the thick of the news for the whole week – we name The Sunday Express newsmaker of the week as: Advocate Simba Chitando
Selected readers and facebook comments on the issue
Rebecca Nomsa Chengetai:
I think people should read to understand, not every Zimbabwean is a ZSP holder, infact there are less than 200 000 who are holding those permits, and it’s a decision that has to be done in court and it can be declined or accepted irregardless of whether you like it or not.
What if we win the court case and we are granted permanent Residence, just thinking aloud
But why do we have to go to court at the first place? Is it is a good idea to ask for permanent residence, or we should have engaged the Home Affirs Ministry before going straight to court, because I think by going to court we are trying to force the Ministry to grant us the PMRP plus when they gave us those permits we did not ask, so why now we want to force them?
This won’t happen remember these were special permits specifically for Zimbos. The condition that we got these permits is different from the normal permit application whereby you have to submit medicals, proof of funds and lastly the permits were given with a timeline. That timeline has expired, so whichever way you look, this court case may end up costing us.
I Am Sizwe
The way it was approached seems very professional and within rights….So basically it’s a 50/50 chance…Just the number is quite high and there are lots of factors to consider before you grant such a high number cos remember , you automatically increasing competition at a higher level with locals and this might ignite a wave of xenophobia..maybe perm Res with conditions that u don’t qualify for certain things like SASSA or RDPs for example just to ease the pressure..It’s quite a sensitive matter that the ANC must deal with carefully.
Reason: Who instructed them to act on behalf of the ZSP holders – that is the question. Because if that case is thrown out, it may – and it will affect even those who did not go to court.
Why not let the people who negotiated for the Special permits do so, those taking this issue to court are jeopardising everything.
Zimbabwean’s have been suffering under collective sanctions for years. These sanctions have destroyed the economy and created these economic refugees.
The sanctions were aimed at the leadership, however it’s ordinary Zimbabwean’s who are suffering. Until the collective sanctions end, Zimbabwean should be allowed to live freely, without hindrance in South Africa.
Japie M: Why not just annex Zimbabwe to South Africa? Most Zimbabweans are in SA already in any case? – Staff Reporter
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