Assessing the effectiveness of South Africa’s Zimbabwean Dispensation policy

Written by Fatima Khan (University of Cape Town) / February 2024

This policy brief assesses the effectiveness of South Africa’s Zimbabwean Dispensation policy. It starts by providing an overview of the use of temporary protection for Zimbabweans by the South African government. Initially the temporary permit (the Zimbabwean Dispensation Permit) was issued for a period of 3 years, but its renewal on three occasions amounting to a total of 13 years led to a legitimate expectation of further renewals. This policy brief further explores whether the temporary protection granted to Zimbabweans by South Africa was a viable form of international protection and whether it could be considered a ‘complementary pathway’ as identified in the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) or whether it, in fact, amounts to a form of containment or contained mobility. The key findings are based on three sources: qualitative research conducted by the University of Cape Town, Refugee Rights Unit, court cases launched to challenge the termination of the temporary dispensation project as well as a task force held at the University of Cape Town with participants including Zimbabwean refugees and dispensation holders.