Zim may need South Africa’s help in issuing passports

Zimbabwe may need to enlist the help of the South African government in issuing new Zimbabwean passports because the country is unable to process sufficient passports on its own, Zimbabwe’s Home Affairs Co-Minister Theresa Makone said on Wednesday.

Makone, who held talks with South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and her co-minister Kembo Mohadi, said Zimbabwe could only process 500 passports a day.

“The numbers [of passport applications] that are coming now show us that we will obviously be behind by the 31st [of December].

“We are still having discussions with the minister to see if it is possible for South Africa, even at a later stage, to come in and assist us doing the paperwork.”

She said Zimbabwe’s equipment for processing the documentation could not cope with the demand for passports.

Zimbabweans, who do not have proper study, work and residency permits, have until December 31 to apply for the necessary documentation to obtain those permits.

Deadline won’t be extended
Dlamini-Zuma again insisted that the deadline for applying permits would not be extended. She said that while Zimbabweans may not have received their documentation at December 31, as long as their applications for passports had been received by Zimbabwe’s home affairs department before that date they would still be processed.

Dlamini-Zuma, Makone and Mohadi said there were no differences of opinion in how to deal with any problems encountered, including on how to deal with Zimbabweans taking advantage of a general amnesty for Zimbabweans living on fraudulent South African documentation.

She said one of the problems facing Zimbabweans was the fact that many only have abridged birth certificates, which are insufficient for passport applications.

She said Zimbabweans working on farms were having difficulties in getting to Zimbabwean offices to apply for the necessary documentation because employers were reluctant to give them time off.

There had been an estimated 70 000 applications so far.

Makone from the Movement for Democratic Change shares the home affairs portfolio with Mohadi, a member of Zimbabwean President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.

Earlier this year the department announced that all Zimbabwean immigrants who did not have their papers in order must apply for relevant documents and register their status in the country.

The special dispensation, allowing Zimbabweans crossing into South Africa the right to live, work, attend educational facilities and access basic healthcare for a period of six months, would come to an end with the December deadline.

The permits are issued at the 46 regional Home Affairs offices in all the nine provinces. Despite 213 home affairs officials deployed, both at headquarters and throughout the provinces, to facilitate this process, problems still arose as large numbers of applicants weren’t being processed. Claims of long queues outside Home Affairs offices and people queuing for a number of days has marred the process.

The number of extra Home Affairs officials were increased to reduce delays.– Sapa

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