The DHA was responding to questions fielded by various civil society groupings representing Zimbabwean interests in South Africa who had attended an all- stakeholders meeting with the department as part of an on-going documentation project targeting Zimbabweans living on the other side of the Limpopo.
The civil society groupings had raised the concern that it appeared the South African Police Service was deliberately targeting Zimbabweans for arrest and consequent deportation.
“We will implement the Immigration Act after the project is finished,” said the Department’s Chief Director of Operations, Jack Mnedi. Zimbabweans who took advantage of the DZP will not be deported.
He further reiterated that the agreement between the Zimbabwean and South African governments did not support the deportation process. He also observed that there would be administrative problems if deportations were to commence before the documentation project was finalised because SAPS would not be able to tell who was waiting for their permit to come out and who was not.
Many Zimbabweans have expressed exasperation over delays in permits being issued. However, the DHA also revealed that no progress was made throughout July as the department brought in new staff to address capacity shortages in the process of adjudicating applications. With the new staff having undergone training, the process took off again in August and is expected to run smoothly until completion.
In an interview, Gabriel Shumba, Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, said his organisation was happy with the way the process had been managed and the involvement of the civil society organisations. However, he expressed concern over some ‘grey areas’ which needed clarification such as the issue of appeals and the review of more than 11,000 applicants that have so far been rejected by the department.
The DHA said it would reject applications of people with criminal records. Shumba further stated that there was confusion on the status of children, in particular children born in South Africa. There was also a consensus between the DHA and the civil organisations that there seemed to be miscommunication between the department’s Head Office and its local branches which were issuing conflicting instructions to Zimbabweans who had been notified to tender supporting documents such as passports or letters of employment in order for their applications to be advanced to the next stage.
Since the closing of the application process in December 2010 the DHA received 275,762 applications in total under the DZP, and have approved and issued almost 142,732 permits.
In a related matter, the Zimbabwe Consulate says it has processed 69,875 passports that were applied for under the DZP and of that total only 1,829 passports are still being expected from Zimbabwe. The numbers of the passports does not match the number of the permit applicants who applied without a passport. According to DHA figures, not more than 32,500 applicants stated they had no passports.Post published in: Africa News