Zimbabwes Co-Ministers of Home Affairs Snub Stakeholders in South Africa, again

passport_zimbabwePretoria - Today marked another day of disappointment for Zimbabwean civil society organizations in South Africa when the 2 Co-Ministers of Home Affairs failed to meet with them. The South African government had arranged todays meeting in order that civil society would be briefed of developments regarding the Zimbabwe Documentation Project (ZDP).

The gathering, which was supposed to be a Ministerial briefing with journalists and members of the Stakeholders Forum did not live up to expectations when members of the Stakeholders were informed that their Ministers were too busy with other pressing business to meet them. Commenting on this, one civil society representative said that he was appalled by the behaviour of the Ministers, who are accused of not taking the Diaspora seriously.

However, the Ministers, together with the South African Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma, addressed journalists in an adjoining room at the Sheraton Hotel, where members of the Stakeholders Forum civil society organizations from Zimbabwe were barred. Zimbabwes Co-Ministers of Home Affairs are Kembo Mohadi of ZANU (PF) and Theresa Makone of MDC. The other dignitaries present today were Tobaiwa Mudede the Registrar General and newly sworn Ambassador, HE P Mphoko.

Stakeholders Forum members however took comfort in the fact that the Director General of Home Affairs of South Africa, Mr Mkuseli Apleni was able to brief them on consultations held with the Zimbabwe Ministers. He informed the Stakeholders that the Zimbabwe government believes that it has the capacity to meet the challenges of the production of passports during the ZDP timeline, although they require a month more than that planned for. Zimbabwe is expected to produce 60 702 passports before the end of July. 28 044 passport applications have already been submitted under the ZDP, while 32 662 are yet to gain access to submit applications.

According to the Ministers, Zimbabwe is able to produce about 500 passports per day. ZEF however understands that it was not made clear whether the machine they are using will now be used solely for the production of passports needed for the ZDP at the detriment of applications inside Zimbabwe, since they have already declined an offer from South Africa to assist. Moreover, ZEF is concerned that there is no office in Cape Town or Durban to handle applications, meaning that people without the necessary resources will be forced to travel to Johannesburg.

The Director General, Mr Mkuseli Apleni, also indicated that of the 275 762 applications received, 65 570 have been approved. There are 210 192 applications that are still being adjudicated on with 49 255 applicants having surrendered their asylum documents. Those who relinquished fraudulently obtained South African documents and have therefore applied for amnesty are 6 243.

Regarding Zimbabweans who are currently being arrested in spite of the moratorium on deportations, the DG said that his department should be notified if anybody is arrested so that they can continue with engagement with their counterparts in other departments. On those who have problems opening bank accounts, the DG said that they will ensure that banks are advised on the new permits so that they do not reject applicants for new accounts on the grounds that the permits are handwritten. The DG also informed the Stakeholders that no applications for condonation will be entertained unless it was an issue of life and death that prevented one from applying or asking somebody to submit an application on his or her behalf. He also mentioned that this does not mean that a person cannot apply through the other immigration processes in SA.

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