by James Mombe, Thursday 24 February 2011
PRETORIA - Zimbabwean immigrants who applied for permits to stay in South Africa should have passports by the end of July, South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has said.
Dlamini-Zuma, who spoke after meeting her Zimbabwean counterparts home affairs co-minister Kembo Mohadi and Theresa Makone, said South Africa had initially hoped to clear all applications for permits by June but was now extending the deadline to July to allow immigrants who submitted applications without passports to obtain the documents.
Pretoria gave Zimbabweans working, engaged in business or studying in South Africa without relevant permits to do so up to last December to apply for the permits but said these would be granted on condition applicants produce valid documents to show they are citizens of Zimbabwe.
The South African home affairs department allowed immigrants to submit applications even without passports but on condition that these would be produced later once applicants received them from Harare.
But the slow pace of passport production in Harare has threatened to derail the scheme to document Zimbabwean immigrants illegally staying in South Africa.
Zuma said her Zimbabwean counterparts had assured her that the passport office in Harare will work through weekends to produce 3 000 passports a week for the estimated 60 000 undocumented Zimbabweans.
Out of the 275 000 Zimbabweans who applied to legalise their stay in South Africa at the end of last year, 17 000 did not have documentation, according to Dlamini-Zuma.