By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
19 May 2014
South Africa has allegedly stopped issuing and renewing permits for Zimbabwean citizens there, ahead of a November expiry date for documents issued under a special dispensation period.
That expiry date formed part of a resolution handed down by South Africa’s cabinet in March this year. The resolution also included a decision that fresh permits can be obtained, but only if people return to Zimbabwe to apply.
According to the MDC-T structures in South Africa, Home Affairs has already stopped renewing current documents and stopped issuing permits that Zim nationals are still waiting for.
“The department is also not re-issuing new work permits for those who lost their passports with valid work-permits. Those who got two year 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. This is clear deception at its best. We wonder if we made a mistake to trust the government of South Africa,” the MDC-T said.
The party added in a statement: “We urge the ANC government to be sensitive, compassionate and considerate. Such a decision by the government has the potential to fan xenophobic attacks.”
The documents were secured by over 250,000 people under the special dispensation period, which was launched in 2010 to give Zim nationals an opportunity to regularise their stay in the country. Up until then most Zimbabweans did not have legal documentation to be there, but still chose working illegally rather than remaining back home.
Since the March resolution there has been little in the way of clarification from the South African authorities on how the renewal process will proceed, with many Zim nationals expressing fears of returning to Zimbabwe until there is a guarantee they can get the documents renewed in good time.
SW Radio Africa was unable to get comment from Home Affairs officials on Monday.