from SAVIOUS KWINIKA in Johannesburg, South Africa
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – ANXIETY has gripped thousands of Zimbabweans whose permits the South African government is yet to renew amid a series of delays.
Among those most affected are scores whose passports have expired, ahead of a new deadline set by the host country’s Department of Home Affairs to receive passports by the weekend.
“The Department of Home Affairs has informed that the final date for
applicants to submit copies of their new passports is 30 September 2018. No new applications will be accepted,” VFS Global has announced.
VFS Global is the agency tasked by Home Affairs to renew the permits.
The company stated that applicants of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) yet to receive the documents due to the expiry of their passport must submit certified copies of renewed passports at permit centres where they had originally applied.
VFS have offices in Cape Town (Western Cape), Durban (KwaZulu-Natal), Midrand (Gauteng), Nelspruit (Mpumalanga), Rustenburg (North West), Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape) and Polokwane (Limpopo).
About 200 000 Zimbabweans living in the neighbouring country applied
following the December 31, 2017 expiry of the permits previously known as the Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP).
Application for renewals opened on September 15 last year with Home
Affairs indicating the exercise would close on December 31 of that same
The deadline was however extended to January 31 this year.
Ngqabutho Mabhena, chairman of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum (ZDF), welcomed the latest announcement.
“We hope people have had enough time to apply and to collect their
passports. Our understanding is that, all permits will be out by October
31. The issue of submitting of new passports is only for those who applied to renew their permits using old passports,” Mabhena said.
He was however skeptic that all permits would be out by end of October,
adding concern the process had taken an entire year.
“Considering that mistakes were made in issuing some permits and the
rectification of those permits will start in November, it means some
people will yet again go for the festive season without permits. This has
a huge impact to those parents who need to apply for their kids study
visas,” Mabhena said.
He pointed out applicants could not travel outside the country, except to
Zimbabwe, without permits.
“We are facing a challenge of people who want to travel overseas on
business as they cannot use a proof of permit application to do so. Some
banks are running out of patience as their clients cannot submit valid
permits. Some employers are now developing an attitude towards their
workers,” Mabhena said.
Advocate Gabriel Shumba, the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) director, however viewed the announcement by VFS as a ploy to further delay the process.
“We do not see why the fact that others have expired passports can affect
the release of the permits of those who have valid passports and still
await the outcome,” Shumba, a human rights lawyer, said.
“ZEF is further alarmed that employers have not been informed that the
process will take unduly long and should therefore not terminate
employment,” he added.
He also said some banks likewise were freezing accounts.
“There is a perception out here that there is a deliberate ploy to not
only delay the process, but to also deny as many applicants as possible.
We again call on Home Affairs to convene an urgent meeting of genuine
stakeholders,” Shumba said.
South Africa introduced the special permits for Zimbabweans in 2010.
– CAJ News