“We can assume that many Zimbabweans were simply unable to navigate the documentation process because of its administrative challenges and the lack of effective communication, as well as misinformation from the regional offices,” senior researcher Roni Amit said in a statement on Tuesday.
“As a result, many were excluded and will remain undocumented.”
The centre conducted the study by monitoring several home affairs offices and surveyed about 905 applicants queuing there between October and December last year.Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans had applied to stay in South Africa after the home affairs department gave them an opportunity to legalise their stay in the country.
The study found the short time period for the project was the “greatest obstacle to its success”.
“While we commend the department of home affairs for these efforts, the department did not set a realistic time frame for implementing the process.
“Instead, they chose to discount the problems by repeatedly asserting that our empirically-grounded estimates of how many Zimbabweans are in the country have no basis,” Amit said.
Those surveyed were “confused and uninformed” about the project requirements, she said.
Administrative concerns stemmed from a lack of clarity over how the review and appeals process would work, particularly for those rejected early in the process.Other concerns included “unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles”, practices across offices were not uniform, regional offices rejected applications without
submitting them, and many asylum seekers were forced to give up their status to apply for permits under the project.Writing on Facebook social networking site, many South Africans criticised their government for treating foreigners with kid gloves and of spending Millions of Rands to provide them with shelter and food.
Home Affairs says more than 250 000 Zimbabwean immigrants in South Africa submitted their applications for work and study permits by the December 31, 2010 deadline- but it was clear that thousands too did not register due to a number of factors.It is estimated there are between 1.5 Million and 2 Million Zimbabweans living in South Africa.