SA adamant on permit deadline

sa_visaJOHANNESBURG - The South African government says it will meet its side of the bargain in issuing permits to Zimbabwean applicants within the next four months.

People who applied for the freely-processed permits last year told The Zimbabwean that they are yet to be called in to collect their permits. But Home Affairs Director General, Mkhuseli Apleni, said this week that Zimbabweans should not panic, as his government would still meet the deadline of issuing the permits set to be July 31 2011.

We are the ones who announced that deadline in consultation with our Zimbabwean counterparts, so there is no way we can fail to meet, said Apleni.

We know that there are some people who are growing impatient with us because they believe that they have been waiting for long now, but my advice to them is that they should be a bit patient with us while we process their papers. This will be done and completed in time for all those who have finished submitting all their relevant papers.

When the process began in September last year, Home Affairs Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, promised that the freely-processed work, business and study permits would be processed and dispatched to applicants within 12 working days of the applications being received. But some applicants say they have been waiting for more than four months.

This shows that the South African government, which has criticised Zimbabwes delay in issuing passports applied for in South Africa as part of the process to legalise the millions of Zimbabweans, is also finding it difficult to live up to its promise despite its vast resources, said one applicant.

Zimbabweans still fear that they might not be able to beat the deadline of appealing, should their applications fail to be approved as, normally, applicants that are turned down are given 10 days during which to appeal.

After July 31, the moratorium on deportations put in place in April 2009, will be lifted. All those who are not part of the 275 000 who applied for permits will be arrested and deported.

There are also still tens of thousands who are yet to receive their passports from the Zimbabwean government, which has been accused of trying to sabotage the process, in an alleged bid by President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) party to prevent the diaspora from voting in the forthcoming elections, as they are deemed to be MDC supporters.

Providing them with passports stamped would allow for an easier and cheaper movement thus enabling them to travel to register and vote in the elections, for which Mugabe is pushing to be held this year.

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