HOME Affairs Minister Cde Kembo Mohadi has said the decision to extend the deadline for permits for Zimbabweans working in South Africa completely lies in the hands of the neighbouring country.
According to reports, 40,000 Zimbabweans failed to meet the December 31 deadline for the Zimbabwe Special Permits (ZSP).
Cde Mohadi said the government is continuing to engage South Africa so that no cut-off date is put on the registration of special permits and the exercise becomes an on-going exercise.
Cde Mohadi said the more than 250,000 people who got permits did so at different intervals.
“They were required by the South African government not the Zimbabwean government to reapply and they did so. For those that haven’t been able to do so, it’s now at the discretion of the South Africans to give them an ear so that they can, after the deadline, still renew their permits,” he said.
“The bone of contention is the new registration with the South African system. We are saying the migration of our people into South Africa or vice versa is a continuous process. We can’t give a cut-off point, we will always go to South Africa and we need therefore to have the documentation to be continuous so that those who come after or who came after this special dispensation are also accounted for. So we still haven’t agreed on that issue but we’re pursuing it.”
Cde Mohadi said the government needed a situation whereby “when the need arises for us to register our people again, we be allowed to do so”.
“It’s in the interests of South Africans and to us to know how many Zimbabweans are in South Africa,” he added.
A total of 245,000 Zimbabweans were eligible to apply for the permits under ZSP but 37,198 failed to meet the deadline due to a number of challenges.
“The situation that pertains to permits is largely South African, we asked for a special dispensation that was for 2010, we were given a dispensation. We were there for more than four months trying to register or to compile all the Zimbabweans that were in South Africa then so they could be given legitimacy in terms of their stay in South Africa,” said Cde Mohadi.
He said many people did not turn up for the initial exercise because of the political situation at the time.
“There were some people who were saying don’t go there, it’s Zanu-PF trying to find out how many people are in South Africa so that they can come and persecute us,” said Cde Mohadi.
He said some started indicating interest after realising that the government exercise was a genuine initiative to take stock of its people in the Diaspora.