ZIMBABWE’S ambassador to South Africa Isaac Moyo will soon engage the South African Department of Home Affairs to get an update on the fate of about 40,000 Zimbabweans who failed to meet the December 31 deadline to apply for the Zimbabwe Special Permits (ZSP).
In a telephone interview, Ambassador Moyo said his office had made numerous inquiries with the South African Home Affairs department since last Friday but most of the top officials were not yet back from the Christmas and New Year holidays.
“At this particular moment, the situation is not clear. The number of people who are said to have failed to submit their applications is huge.
“One would think that maybe they faced challenges in submitting their applications while others have complained that the procedure is cumbersome,” said Ambassador Moyo.
He said the embassy had not yet received any official communication from the South African Department of Home Affairs but expressed hope that all sticking issues would be resolved this week.
Winding queues were visible at the South African embassy in Harare since the beginning of the week as people jostled to inquire about the new permits, while others were seeking study permits.
An official at the South African embassy said the queues were normal especially at the beginning of the year when students enrolled at various colleges and universities in that country would be inquiring about study permits.
“I think this year was unique in that it coincided with the deadline for the Zimbabwe Special Permits submissions. But as our Home Affairs Minister said, these papers need to be sorted out in South Africa,” said the official.
The South African cabinet approved the new permit on August 6 last year following engagements with Zimbabwe’s Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi.
South African Department of Home Affairs started processing online applications on October 1 and stopped on December 31 last year.
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 Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum recently said many Zimbabweans missed on the deadline due to the criteria and timeframe given to individuals who were eligible to apply for the permits.
Spokesperson for the forum, Trust Ndlovu, said his organisation was this week going to engage the South African Department of Home Affairs with a view of seeking the extension of the deadline of the ZSP application process.
He said one of the requirements for a sworn affidavit signed by an employer was burdensome as some employers didn’t like the process of going through police stations.
Ndlovu called on the South African government to come up with a policy that addressed the plight of migrants some of whom having been living in that county for more 10 years, using questionable documents such as asylums.
He said authorities should consider their plight with a view of according them permanent residence status because some had established families and form part of that country’s taxpayers.
According to the new regulations, one needs a valid Zimbabwean passport; evidence of employment (confirmation of employment and a sworn affidavit statement from employer), a business or accredited study and a clean criminal record.
After making applications online, one had to secure an appointment to hand in the documents at the Home Affairs offices through the call centre.
Many holders of the previous Zimbabwe Dispensation Programme permits failed to meet the deadline because the Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) website was constantly down. Others failed to get through the VFS call centre as the number was continually unreachable.
In a statement on Wednesday last week, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs said they had received a total of 207,802 applications by end of the December 31 deadline.
The ZSP programme was a replacement of the Zimbabwe Dispensation Programme which started in May 2009 and expired on December 31, 2014.