Zimbabweans living in South Africa, who are working towards regularising their stay in the neighboring country, will not be deported until the whole exercise has been completed, NewsDay has learnt.
It emerged on Wednesday that despite the December 31 deadline for registration, the issuing of permits continues until next year.Consular General at the Zimbabwe embassy in South Africa, Christopher Mapanga, confirmed the new development.
“There is no Zimbabwean who will be deported until the process has been completed,” he said. “This is an ongoing process and it will continue even after the December 31 deadline.” Mapanga said what will not be allowed after the deadline is initial registration for a permit.
“What will not be allowed after the December 31 deadline is new registration for permits. We want all applications and registrations to be done by the deadline date but processing the permits will continue,” he said.
MDC-M South African representative, who is part of a committee on the registration of Zimbabweans, Ngqabutho Dube, said there were still some Zimbabweans who were waiting for their passports.
“These people have been told to take their passport receipts to the Home Affairs ministry so that they are in the database and they become eligible to get their permits next year,” he said. According to the South African law, only South Africans are allowed to work in security companies.
Dube also said about 80 000 Zimbabweans have applied for the permits, but only 24 000 have been completed.
“There is a serious backlog, which the South African government is working hard to clear, hence the continuing of the process even after the deadline,” he said. Zimbabweans in South Africa without proper documentation have until December 31 to sort out their papers.
A ‘special dispensation’ implemented in April last year allowed Zimbabweans crossing into South Africa to reside in the country for six months, seek employment, attend an educational institutions and seek access to basic healthcare without documentation.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates that there are between 1,5 and two million Zimbabweans in South Africa.