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SA high commissioner retreats into laager

SO the gallant South African high commissioner has been furiously wielding his QD (quiet diplomacy) sword for the benefit of Africa only to hastily sheath it back in its scabbard!

tica, sans-serif”>Having been nearly lynched by supporters of the leader his employers hate to love, Jeremiah Ndou has retreated into the laager of the high commission compound, perhaps never to be seen again.

In the meanwhile the behemoth that is the apartheid-spawned monster, the South African bureaucracy, has been justifying its existence by revamping visa application requirements.

First of the new requirements is that you have to submit two passport photographs with the application.

Secondly, you have to demonstrate that you have availed yourself of a travel allowance from a Zimbabwean bank. One of the same banks that are not providing travel allowances. But you must have a receipt and a stamp in your passport from a bank evidencing that you have purchased the travel allowance.

A receipt and a stamp from one of the institutions that are generating spectacular profits from finding new ways to generate income from the shortage of foreign currency. The same institutions that will eagerly accept parallel market currency and sell it back to you with a receipt and put a stamp in your passport. For a fee.

Thirdly, you have to answer the following new questions on the application form:

Are you a member of, or an adherent to an association or organisation advocating the practice of social violence or racial hatred?

Are you or have you been a member or adherent to an association or organisation utilising or advocating crime or terrorism to pursue its goals?

I suppose it’s a form of quiet diplomacy.

And so, when you have complied with the New South African requirements, you must head for the South African high commission in Belgravia at dawn to queue up along specially set out railings outside the building to submit your application.

That’s the new building where six months after opening someone had the foresight to lay a tarred car park over the adjacent vacant plot into which the queue spills, to demonstrate that South Africa can use its wealth to marginally improve the lot of its impoverished neighbours in dusty Africa.

The pristine car park with a gate to control access. The gate is now shut until the high commission opens. So you now have to queue in the dust outside the car park fence.

And when you finally submit your application, it is usually ready for collection in seven days. But wait. Just as the Harare passport office professed to process emergency applications in 24 hours – at eight hours a day for three days, seven days in Africa-speak means nine days because we are still the victims of a colonial five-day working week.

When you do collect your passport, if you bother to check, you will notice that the issue date on the visa that takes up a whole page is the same day you submitted it. The South Africans could show those Japanese just-in-time fanatics a thing or two.

But at least Ndou has created a laager in true Boer-style.



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