I write this letter with all due respect.
I am a final year masters student at the University of Pretoria.
After making three study/practical training permit applications to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Pretoria Pretorius street office in 2011 (my documents were lost by the DHA twice, and as a result I had to make a third application) I have now been waiting for almost seven months for a study permit that is supposed to take thirty days to issue. The officials at the Pretorius street office are uninformed and dismissive, and have even suggested that I make a fourth submission of the same documents. Concurrently, my younger sister who is studying at Monash University in Rooderport Johannesburg, has been trying to renew her study permit since December 2011. Recently, DHA officials in Johannesburg told her to include documents from her landlord (detailing her residential address) and her birth certificate as part of her study permit renewal application,yet, these documents are not listed as mandatory on the DHA checklist for study permit renewals. This makes one wonder: could DHA officials be using such information for their own gain? Finally, the DHA officials in Johannesburg have told her to return to Zimbabwe without giving her a legitimate reason.
Minister, as a distinguished academic yourself, and as a person who has lived, worked and studied in the United Kingdom, Swaziland and Zambia, you can imagine the frustration that hundreds of Zimbabwean (and other international) students such as myself have to endure on day-to-day basis as a result of the delay in the issuing of study permits. Many of us cannot transact at the banks because we are not in possession of our permits, and as a result we are vulnerable to crime as we have to unnecessarily hold on to large amounts of cash. Furthermore, when dealing with landlords and hospitals we are currently forced to transact through third parties because we are not in possession of legitimate documentation. So, you can imagine the ordeals some of these students have to go through if they are faced with an emergency or accident.
Minister, the situation is worrisome. As things stand we are currently living as if we are unwelcome in the Republic. Ironically all our creditors demand that our bills be paid on time. Yet, when we inquire with the DHA officials, we are met with contempt. Minister, we know that you were an anti-apartheid activist while studying in Great Britain between 1977 and 1978, and therefore you too would stand against such an injustice if you were in our position. We also know that you have a good reputation as a result of your service in the Foreign Affairs Ministry. We also expect that as you endeavour to secure the post of African Union Commission chairperson against Jean Ping in July, you recall that charity begins at home. The situation with study permits urgently requires your attention.
In the words of Donald H. McGannon: "Leadership is action, not position."
Zimbabwe Renaissance SocietyPost published in: Letters to the Editor