SA to speed up Zim documentation process

ngqabutho_dubeJOHANNESBURG The South African government will within the remaining few weeks before the deadline for Zimbabweans to submit applications for permits to stay in the country, open more offices, cut holidays short and deploy more staff. (Pictured: Nqabutho Dube)

The government said this while responding a to Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR)-led joint civil society complaint, signed by 22 organisations and submitted to the Office of the Public Protector two weeks ago, over the refusal by the Department of Home Affairs to extend the December 31 deadline for new applications to the Zimbabwe Documentation Project. While there will be no extension to the deadline, the South African government revealed that the Home Affairs department will open their offices till 10 pm everyday and will receive applications up to midnight on deadline day. The offices will only close on Christmas and Boxing days.

To address congestion and long queues at DHA offices, fingerprints will no longer be taken and application forms will also be made available online to cut on the previously cumbersome application process. Vendors and informal traders who require a trading licence may submit an affidavit commissioned by a police officer indicating the details of their trading business, like where they have been trading, how long they have been trading at that location and what items they are trading in.

DHA has set up offices in locations where there is a high density of foreign farm workers in an attempt to assist them to apply for these permits and this process is already underway and offices have been set up in the Eastern Cape, North West, Limpopo and Kwazulu-Natal, added the South African government. From 28th December, police and immigration officials will be at the Home Affairs offices to assist with the large numbers of people who are expected to try to lodge applications before the deadline.

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, spokesman for LHR, was still worried about the little time still remaining. We certainly hope that the state will be able to achieve the objectives and purposes of the project. However we are not convinced that in the short space of time which is left this is possible, said Ramjathan-Keogh.

We remain concerned that the extremely short timeframes for such a large project may be used as a smokescreen for starting up large scale deportations again. We note DHAs (Department of Home Affairs) commitment that they will not start deportations immediately after the deadline, but ask for DHA to issue instructions to The South African government also allowed Zimbabweans who have already made applications for passports to use their receipts to apply for their permits.

This is yet another generous gesture by the South African government, which listened to our concerns and we would like to urge all those that applied for Zimbabwean passports to rush to the Home Affairs offices and make their applications because time is running out. The deadline is around the corner and there is no more time for delays, said Nqabutho Dube, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-M) partys secretary in South Africa.

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