Home Affairs taking nine months to process permits for Zimbabweans

South Africa

Reports have emerged that some Zimbabweans who applied for their Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) are anxious because of the slow progress taken processing their permits. It is very difficult to live without a valid permit. Some of them find that their bank accounts are frozen and as a result face difficulties in registering their children at educational institutions, while others even lose their jobs.

The ZEP will replace the ZSP (Zimbabwean Special Permit) which expired in December 2017. A circular was issued by Home Affairs to banks‚ employers and learning institutions in December that as long as people could show proof of application for the ZEP they should continue to receive services while their application is being adjudicated. However‚ GroundUp is aware of a number of cases where banks‚ schools and employers have not taken heed to this advice.

The applications for the ZEP started on the 15th  of September 2017 and the closing date, which was extended twice so far was on 15 February 2018.

On 31 January‚ Home Affairs announced that the ZEP process‚ including finalising adjudications and issuing all new permits‚ would be completed by the end of September 2018.

But on 6 September‚ Home Affairs media manager David Hlabane said in an email response to GroundUp that the department is currently adjudicating applications that were received before the closing date and the process should be completed around October.

GroundUp has been trying every day since Monday to get an answer from Home Affairs as to how many applications have been successfully processed‚ but without success.

Morgan (surname withheld) applied for a permit on 7 December 2017. She has been tracking her application online. “Up to now nothing new‚ almost nine months after submission‚” she said.

Cindy (surname withheld) told GroundUp in an email: “I submitted my paperwork in January and still nothing.” She says she was suspended from work six weeks ago. Her employer wants her to show a valid permit. She did provide proof of application and showed the receipt‚ but she says her employer wasn’t satisfied.

A Zimbabwean man‚ who also wished to remain anonymous‚ said he submitted a ZEP study permit for his daughter in February but he only got an SMS notification that his daughter’s application was received by Home Affairs on 24 August. He said his Capitec bank account has been frozen.

Helen (surname withheld) is worried that she may not get her wages this week after FNB froze her account in December last year. Her employer has been paying her in cash but says the company cannot continue to do that.

The ZEP Dispensation Forum has used social media – Facebook in particular as a means to is encourage Zimbabweans not to merely check online but to actually visit the offices of Visa Facilitation Centre (VFS)‚ the company that processes the permits for Home Affairs. The page has posts from people who applied in November 2017 and have not yet received their ZEPs and from people who have been struggling without documentation.

The majority of Zimbabweans in South Africa have been unsure about their future in the country since the introduction of the Dispensation of Zimbabwean Permit (DZP) in 2010. About 245‚000 DZPs were issued. It was valid for four years and was supposed to be non-renewable. Later, it was extended to three years and renamed the ZSP in 2014. Just under 200‚000 ZSP permits were issued. Again in December 2016‚ Home Affairs said there would be no renewal of the ZSP‚ but it created the ZEP in 2017‚ valid for four years.

On the ZEP it states that the document “doesn’t allow the holder to apply for permanent residence irrespective of the period of stay in South Africa. ZEP will not be renewable and the holder cannot change conditions of the permit in SA”.

 

Article sourced from Ground Up.

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