The Zimbabwe Exiles’ Forum (Zef) and People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (Passop) have blamed the Zimbabwe government for the low number of people who managed to apply for documents to regularise their stay in South Africa.
The organisations said Zimbabwe failed to deliver passports to a large number of applicants resulting in them failing to apply for permits.
South Africa set a December 31 2010 deadline for locals living in the country to regularise their stay or be deported. Only about 232 000 out of an estimated 1,5 million people managed to apply for the permits.
This means that more than a million Zimbabweans could be deported if the South African government enforces the deadline.
Passop and Zef accused the Zimbabwe government of not being committed to the documentation programme, unlike their South African counterparts who at one time even offered a passport printing machine to the country.
“Our biggest concern for applicants is the Zimbabwean authorities . . . In the documentation project we feel that the Zimbabwean government has already failed the Diaspora,” said Zef director Gabriel Shumba and Passop director Braam Hanekom in a joint statement released at the weekend.
“They seemed less committed to the process than South African authorities (despite charging exorbitant fees and being responsible to Zimbabweans) and have been weak partners in the Zimbabwe Dispensation Project (ZDP) project.
“We remain convinced that there is no justification for charging R750 a passport and that it is not acceptable that they have not delivered passports to thousands of applicants after several months.”
Zef and Passop said the ZDP was the best way to regularising the stay of the many Zimbabweans living in South Africa as it would ensure that they got “a clear set of rights that should reduce the discrimination and exploitation that they are often subjected to by employers, landlords or officials, as well as give them the chance to have basic access to services”.
The organisations said South African Home Affairs officials had worked hard and showed a lot of patience and dedication by working long hours, including during the holidays.
They however appealed for patience and leniency during the processing of applications.
Meanwhile, the Department of Home Affairs has revealed that it could take at least six months to process the applications for work and study permits that Zimbabweans submitted ahead of the deadline on Friday.
Department spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said all those who were in the queue on Friday were served in line with Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s directive.
Mamoepa said some of the applicants had submitted fraudulent documents.
These included identity documents, passports and permits which the Home Affairs department rejected.
Dlamini-Zuma has assured those who applied that they would not be deported until the process had been concluded.