Exiles want consulate hours extended

immigrants_zimbabwe_musinaPRETORIA A human rights group has called on Zimbabwean consular offices in Johannesburg and Durban to extend working hours to enable thousands of Zimbabwean immigrants to acquire passports and other identity documents. (Pictured: Zimbabwean immigrants queue at Sout

Thousands of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants have over the past week flocked to the countrys offices to obtain the identity document they need to apply for South African permits before a 31 December to regularise their stay in South expires.

But the Zimbabwean Exiles Forum (ZEF) last week said that it was taking too long for the immigrants to get assistance with thousands having to camp overnight outside consular offices in order to have a better chance of getting served the following day.

In a statement last week, ZEF director Gabriel Shumba said: The ZEF is concerned about the slow pace of processing passport applications which has led to long queues of applicants, with some sleeping overnight at the Consulate since Monday.

Already, corruption has started as some Zimbabweans who called the office indicated that they had to pay to jump the queue.

The Consulate ordinarily closes at 12 pm, and does not open on Wednesdays, thus further affecting those who come from afar places such as Cape Town and Durban. ZEF appeals to the Consulate to extend operating hours and days, as well as to ensure that other offices are opened in various parts of the country.

Pretoria has said it would in December resume deporting undocumented Zimbabweans, ending an 18-month moratorium on deportations of illegal immigrants from its struggling northern neighbour.

But Pretoria said Zimbabweans already working, engaged in business or studying in South Africa will be issued with relevant permits on condition they produce valid documents to show they are citizens of Zimbabwe.

There no exact figures of how many Zimbabwean live in South Africa but estimates put the figure at anything above two million or above a sixth of Zimbabwes total population of 12 million people. Most of the Zimbabwean immigrants do not possess the required permits to stay in South Africa.

Meanwhile reports say the confusion and chaos surrounding the issuing of passports and permits has led to rife corruption which has seen non-Zimbabweans acquiring passports after paying bribes corrupt officials.

A promise by South Africas home affairs department to issue work and study permits to the millions of Zimbabwean immigrants believed to be living without proper papers in South Africa has seen immigrants from other countries rushing to acquire Zimbabwean documents for use to apply for South African permits.

SW Radio Africa reported last week that some Nigerians are believed to be cashing in on the confusion at Zimbabwes consulates to obtain Zimbabwean passports.

Zimbabwes co-ministers of Home Affairs earlier this month announced that passport fees had been slashed to US$50, down from US$140. However, for an extra amount anyone including non-Zimbabweans can get a Zimbabwean passport from corrupt officials, the UK-based radio reported without naming its sources.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *