THE South African All Truck Drivers Forum (ATDF) has called for abolition of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) in a bid to bar all foreign truck drivers from working in the neighbouring country.
The ATDF is now demanding that the ZEP grace period for renewal of permits, which expires on December 31, 2022 be abolished.
Zimbabwe Community in South Africa chairman, Nqabutho Mabhena yesterday said the ATDF must be guided by the South African government’s decision to offer a grace period to ZEP holders.
“The truckers have the right to raise the issues affecting them, but we remain guided by the position taken by the SA government on November 24, 2021 that ZEP holders will have a grace period of 12 months to stay in that country,” Mabhena said.
“The SA Labour minister Thulas Nxesi was clear that the rights of migrants must be protected and we expect the State to protect migrants who are in South Africa.”
Mabhena said foreign drivers were still allowed to work in neighbouring South Africa.
“If the South Africa government bans migrants from working in the trucking industry that would be a different issue, but currently those with permits are allowed to work in the trucking industry,” he said.
Groups of truck drivers marched through the streets of Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg on Monday to hand over a memorandum of demands to the offices of the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry.
The ATDF said its demands for the ZEP grace period to be abolished were in line with its stance on foreign truck drivers. It has been protesting through road shutdowns and highway blockades, calling for foreign truck drivers to be barred from the road freight industry, arguing that truck driving should be reserved for South Africans because it’s not a scarce skill.
ATDF general-secretary Sifiso Nyathi said the call to abolish the ZEP permits would be directed to Nxesi and the Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
“This is not a matter for the bargaining council but one that needs the urgent attention of [ministers] Nxesi and Motsoaledi,” Nyathi said.
In November 2021, the South African Cabinet decided not to renew the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits. About 182 000 Zimbabweans hold the permits and they were given 12 months to apply so that they can migrate to other visa regimes suitable to their individual circumstances.
The decision to cancel the permits sparked outrage among their holders and rights groups who unsuccessfully took the government to court over the matter.
Recently, Zimbabwean students in South Africa suffered a major blow after Pretoria withdrew a waiver allowing them to apply for permanent residence permits.