This comes as the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) system approaches its termination in less than two years. According to the Zimbabwe Truckers Association of SA, there have been reports from truck drivers of increasing xenophobia in South Africa, with more than 400 truckers killed by local vigilantes since 2019.
Advocate Simba Chitando has expressed concern over the denial of license renewals, stating, “It’s completely illegal and unconstitutional to deny Zimbabweans lawfully in SA to renew their driver’s licences, and we must now again go to court to force the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to comply with the law and stop making up the law on the fly,” he said.
TRUCK DRIVERS ARE MOVING TO POLAND
Wellington Manyonda, head of the Zimbabwe Truckers Association of SA, notes that some Zimbabwean truckers are relocating to more welcoming countries, like Poland.
“It’s become clear to many Zimbabwean truckers operating in SA that they are not welcome here, and I am aware of about 300 of them who have moved to Poland where they are welcomed,” Manyonda says.
“They are able to earn good money in Poland, where the entry-level wage is about $1 800 [R34 000 a month],” he added.
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A truck driver has shared his experience with license renewal, saying that the traffic department could not help him.
“I have a ZEP permit, and by that token, they just told me to forget that I would be able to renew the licence anywhere in South Africa,” he said.
Manyonda has also raised concerns about the potential linkage of Traffic Register Numbers (TRN) licenses to the ZEP expiry date, leading to the exclusion of many Zimbabwean truck drivers from the system and hindering their ability to earn a living in South Africa.
EXCLUSION IS ‘POLITICALLY MOTIVATED’
He believes the situation may be politically motivated.
“It’s clear this has to do with the upcoming elections in SA and the ruling party wants to win votes by scapegoating Zimbabweans, who are being falsely blamed for much that is wrong in SA, such as crime and unemployment.”
“It’s a sad commentary on the state of the country that we have to fight so many legal battles to protect the rights of Zimbabweans here, but we have no choice,” Manyonda adds.-THESA