The Zimbabwean consulate in South Africa has given Zimbabweans who applied for passports in the neighbouring country up to May 20 to collect their travel documents to expedite processing of their work and study permits or risk deportation.
The initial deadline for the collection of the passports was April 18.
In a statement yesterday, the consulate said the deadline had been extended to give applicants more time to regularise their documents.
“The new deadline by the Zimbabwean Consulate means that people will have about two months to complete their applications for their work, business and study permits,” read the statement.
The South African government has set July 31 as the deadline for the release of the work permits, after which it will resume deportation of those without the necessary papers.
As of last month, about 150 000 permit applications were yet to be finalised, with a backlog of over 50 000.
The South African government is reportedly processing about 3 000 applications per day.
The Zimbabwean consulate set up 43 regional offices in South Africa in an effort to beat the backlog and meet the July 31 deadline.
The registration of permits began last September and was initially scheduled to close on January 31.
The permit application process was at some point severely hampered by the Zimbabwean government’s inability to meet the demand for passports, which are critical for the South African permits to be issued.
In February, Zimbabwean authorities were granted more time by the South African government to roll out passports to its citizens, after previously promising to have all the documents ready by December last year.