South Africa has jettisoned a plan that would have forced about 200 000 Zimbabweans to return home, to the satisfaction of critics who said it would have caused a humanitarian crisis.
The Department of Home Affairs gave no reason for withdrawing its directive to end the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit on Monday.
The cabinet’s 23 November decision to end the permits drew a chorus of complaints from human rights groups that threatened to mount a court challenge. They argued that Zimbabweans who have been living in South Africa for more than a decade were going to be sent back to a country with few economic opportunities and high levels of political repression.
The exemption only applied to Zimbabweans who entered South Africa before the arrangement was enacted in 2009.