Exiles’ organisations in South Africa met the Minister of Home Affairs, Nkosaza Dhlamini-Zuma and her director-general Mkuseli Alpeni on Tuesday, who insisted that the December 31 deadline would not be extended.
Deportations will start after January 1, according to the South African Home Affairs office.
According to the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF), the Tuesday meeting was meant to unlock logjams besetting the Zimbabwe Documentation Project (ZDP). The registration process started on September 20 and the issuing of passports and other documents has been delaying progress.
ZEF executive director Gabriel Shumba told the Zimbabwe Independent that Alpeni pointed out that of the 116 000 applications received, 10 000 were rejected while 27 000 were approved. At least 79 000 were awaiting determination.
“The Minister (Nkosazana-Zuma) however informed the stakeholders forum that the deadline for the submission of passports which is the 31st of December is not negotiable,” he said.
Shumba said the civic society and experts in exile made representations over the continued delay in the issuing of permits in a bid to push for the extension of the deadline but in vain.
He said: “This notwithstanding, ZEF still calls upon the South African government to extend the deadline to ensure that as many people as possible benefit. The organisation also wants to express its deep disappointment with the Zimbabwean Home Affairs ministry for its failure to take advantage of the offer made by South Africa to ensure that Zimbabweans obtain documentation on time.”
South Africa is set to resume deportations on January 1 of those without proper documents. In April last year, the South African government introduced a 90-day visa on demand for passport holders and a special permit allowing Zimbabweans to work and reside in that country for between six months and three years. The moratorium was scrapped this year.
Shumba said ZEF and other organisations obtained major concessions from the South African Home Affairs department which agreed that all Zimbabweans who are in possession of receipts indicating that they have applied for a birth certificate, identity card or passports would be able to use the receipts to submit applications for permits.
“In order to deal with the issue of congestion, the ministry has graciously decided to waive the requirement to have fingerprints taken and applications can now be submitted from the queues as forms have now been given to ZEF and others to distribute so that prospective applicants can fill them in before they go to Home Affairs,” he said.
“All those who will be in the system by the end of the deadline will be served. In addition, no deportations will commence whilst the process has not been finalised. Mobile stations that will make it easier for farm workers to submit applications from the farms will also begin operations this week.”
ZEF, Shumba said, also encouraged Zimbabweans to take advantage of the opportunity before the expiration of the deadline.