MDC condemns SA govt u-turn on work permits

The MDC-T SA has reacted with shock and horror to today’s directive by the South African Department of Home Affairs instructing its officials to stop processing any document related to the Zimbabwe Documentation Project.

The worst fears of millions of Zimbabweans living and working in the neighbouring country have been confirmed, says the party’s spokesperson Rogers Mudarikwa.

Under the documentation project Zimbabweans were issued with four-year renewable work permits.

“In meetings four years ago we sat with the then Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, now chair of the African Union, and her Director General Nkuseni. The minister promised to renew the work permits upon expiry. She dismissed our suspicions that this was an intelligence gathering exercise. Now, four years down the line, the South African government is singing a different tune,” said Mudarikwa.

“Home Affairs is no longer renewing the permits. The department is also not re-issuing new work permits for those who lost their passports containing valid work-permits. Those who got two years work permits on the basis of the ending life-span of their passports are not being issued the remaining two years – even after acquiring new passports. We wonder if we made a mistake to trust the government of South Africa,” he fumed.

Home Affairs officials in Johannesburg told MDC-T officials today that they were completely in the dark. The department is now saying Zimbabweans must apply for the renewal of their work-permits from Harare. The officials said the decision to stop the project was a complete u-turn to what was agreed on between the Minister and members of the stakeholders forum that resulted in the documentation project.

The project was initially shunned by Zimbabweans who suspected that the South African government was trying to flush them out. But when MDC-T officials in South Africa encouraged fellow Zimbabweans to participate in the project, more than 250,000 came out and applied for the four-year permits. Those with refugee statuses were coaxed into surrendering them in exchange for work permits.

“Zimbabweans feel deceived by the South African government. The ANC government is now running away from their signatures. It is ironic that such a revolutionary party whose leadership was kept comfortably in Zimbabwe during their liberation struggle could treat us like that. We have a strong suspicion that the current Minister of Home Affairs, Naledi Pandor, has little understanding of challenges faced by Africans. We urge the ANC government to be sensitive, compassionate and considerate. Such a decision by the government has the potential to fan xenophobic attacks,” says a statement from the MDC-T.

The party has urged all Zimbabweans to email or call senior officials in the Home Affairs department urging them to reconsider this decision: Mkuseli Apleni: Director General, 082 449 7535, (012)406 2501 email: [email protected] OR

Jackie Mckay,

Deputy Director General Immigration Services

0824428998, (012) 406 2697 or email: [email protected]

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