By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
20 May 2014
The South African government has been accused of making a ‘u-turn’ in its decision to change its Zimbabwe permit policy, amid reports that the authorities have already stopped processing documents.
According to the MDC-T structures in South Africa, Home Affairs offices countrywide have been told to stop issuing or processing any documentation related to the Zimbabwe permits, which were issued during the special dispensation period in 2010.
This follows a Cabinet resolution in March that those documents will expire in November this year. The resolution also included a statement that fresh permits can be applied for, but only back in Zimbabwe. Since then, there has no clarification about 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.
Rodgers Mudarikwa, an official with the MDC-T in South Africa, said this was a ‘u-turn’ from a previous agreement that the permits would be renewable after the expiry date. He accused the government of “changing goalposts.”
“The SA government is running away from their agreement that the documentation project was going to be renewed after the expiry. But since the resolution in March, they are hiding from engaging with us,” he told SW Radio Africa.
He meanwhile explained that officials at Home Affairs offices have 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,” Mudarikwa said.
He said that some Zim nationals have been fined and stopped from returning to South Africa after going home for personal reasons, despite being in possession of documents supporting their permit status.
“In South africa, the Immigration Act says you need to return home to apply for permits and that can take up to three months. Zimbabweans are going to be forced to work here (South Africa) illegally. There is no way they are going to go back to Zimbabwe and wait three months for approval,” Mudarikwa warned.