Zimbabweans residing in South Africa experienced a momentary sense of relief on Monday as the Gauteng High Court Division in Pretoria dismissed Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s application for leave to appeal against a previous High Court ruling. This ruling had invalidated the government’s decision to cancel the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEPs).
The June 28, 2023, court declaration deemed the minister’s failure to consult with ZEP holders, relevant non-governmental organizations, and the public as unlawful, unconstitutional, and invalid. As a result, the ruling effectively restored the status of ZEP holders for an additional 12 months.
In July of the same year, Motsoaledi filed an application to seek leave to appeal the judgment and orders. The respondents in the case included the Helen Suzman Foundation, the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in SA, and the All Truck Drivers Forum and Allied South Africa.
The minister argued that his decision did not fall under the reviewable category of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) as it did not constitute administrative action. He further contended that the court’s order violated the doctrine of separation of powers, along with the section 172 orders.
However, in a judgment issued on October 16, 2023, the High Court ruled that it was evident that the minister had made the decision without consulting the ZEP holders, relevant NGOs, or the public. The court emphasized that the quality of evidence or the undeniable significance of the issue at hand was crucial in determining whether leave to appeal should be granted.
The court further noted that the minister’s failure to respond to the answering affidavits in the review proceedings weakened his application. Despite temporary court orders being granted against him, the court stated that Motsoaledi’s powers had not been infringed upon.