Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said everything was going “relatively well.”
“We are really trying to work hard (to resolve) the whole permitting issue, not just (for) the Zimbabweans,” said Dlamini Zuma, who pointed out that Home Affairs officials were working a two-shift system which sees them only clock off at 10pm.
“Our senior managers are not going on holiday, but I think we should give them the long weekend for Christmas,” she said.
Dlamini-Zuma paid a surprise visit to the Wynberg Home Affairs offices this morning to hear first-hand any complaints applicants had about the Zimbabwe Dispensation Project, which is aimed at granting Zimbabweans study, work or business permits in a bid to free up the overburdened asylum process.
Her visit is part of a series of visits by departmental officials to check up on bottlenecks at home affairs offices.
Braam Hannekom, from People against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty (Passop), believed that if the department continued to process applications at its Wynberg office as it had done yesterday – where he said 550 applications were taken – that there would be no need for an extension to the deadline.
Hannekom, who has long been calling for an extension to the deadline, added that from reports, he had gathered that the application process had been “surprisingly” free of corruption.
Dlamini Zuma said the only reports of corruption related to the process dated back to the beginning of the process where Zimbabweans were sold applications by their fellow countrymen.
By yesterday, 127 564 applications had been processed since the Zimbabwe dispensation programme’s April extension, said Jackson MacKay, the Deputy Director-General responsible for immigration.
MacKay said of these, 42 191 applications had been finalised and a further 10 844 turned down.
Dlamini Zuma hastened to add that those applicants that had their application for permits rejected are given the chance to appeal these applications through a review process.
She said many applications were rejected because applicants didn’t bring along the necessary supporting documentation – such as a letter from their employer, in the case where they were applying for a work permit.
She said many that applied for permits were still waiting to receive Zimbabwean passports, but Zimbabweans could still apply, as long as they brought along their passport application and the corresponding receipt.
Fingerprinting and police checks were also adding to the bottlenecks, but Dlamini Zuma said Zimbabweans could still apply and that these would be carried out later.
She said charts with portraits of each of the senior managers, along with their cell phones, had been made available at each home affairs office in a bid to solve problems members of the public may encounter when they visit offices.
Members of the public should report any office which failed to put up the wall chart.
One Zimbabwean, a former machine operator who didn’t want to be identified, said he had been standing in the queue outside Wynberg home affairs for hours on end. He came to South Africa a year ago and was now working as a gardener in the city.
“(The Zimbabwe Dispensation Project) is good, but some are being rejected,” he said, adding that he had only gone to apply now, with just under 10 days to the deadline. He had to wait two months to get his Zimbabwean passport.
The minister reiterated that the 31 December deadline would not be extended.
Dlamini-Zuma pointed out that the application process had already been extended, after originally running from April 2009 to April this year. – BuaNews