Be patient, Home Affairs tells Zimbabweans awaiting permits
Visa processing company expected to finish its work by end of January
The Department of Home Affairs has urged Zimbabweans who haven’t yet received their special permits to be patient. The Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) allows Zimbabweans living in South Africa to regularise their stay in the country.
GroundUp has received numerous complaints from people concerned by how long the process is taking.
The ZEP application process opened on 15 September 2017 following the expiry of the Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP) in December 2014. Zimbabweans had to apply by end of November last year, but this was extended to 31 January and then to 15 February 2018. On 15 November 2018 the department announced the completion of the adjudication and printing of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP).
The applicants are disputing the claims by VFS Global that people are hard to reach. They have paid R20 for receiving sms updates during the application process. Their email addresses were also made available but they haven’t received any communication.
VFS told GroundUp that it is “facilitating all ZEP collections until 31 January 2019. Applicants who have not received their permits are welcome to track their applications on the VFS Global website by inserting their AURN number as well as their last name.”
A statement released by Home Affairs says “84 applicants’ fingerprints need to be retaken. VFS has been trying to contact these applicants to no avail.”
In an email to GroundUp on 22 November the Media Manager at the Department of Home Affairs, David Hlabane said, “The applicants who have not been notified may be among those whose adjudication is being finalised or whose outcomes are on the dispatch route from our Department to VFS for distribution. We are working on completing the whole process by 30 November 2018, and therefore plead for patience among applicants who are yet to receive their permits.”
Hlabane added that the applicants who have proven difficult to reach were contacted, also by phone, including people who must retake fingerprints and those whose passports had expired. VFS had undertaken to provide, in its offices, the list of the applicants affected, including those with outstanding passports.
Some Zimbabweans also complained to GroundUp that they have gone several times to the VFS offices with no luck. When they track the permits online they keep on getting a message that their application has been received at Home Affairs.
Others also wrote to GroundUp looking for help. One of them wrote, “May you ask the Minister of Home Affairs on our behalf what is going on because this issue of work permits have blocked a lot of things. Our lives are on a stand still.”
“Our employers are fed up of paying us, then later we go back to them and tell them that the money has bounced back since my account has been frozen. We are scared of losing our jobs now,” said another.
The Zimbabwe Exemption Facebook page is also full of comments from irate beneficiaries.
Mthandazo Mjena Moyo wrote, “I had been waiting for a year now. Home Affairs is a joke.”
Rachael Musoni Munikwa wrote, “I went to check mine there is nothing. I submitted on 7 November last year.”
In its 15 November statement Home Affairs said that it has completed the adjudication and printing of 178,172 applications for the ZEP. It said, “A total of 180,188 Zimbabweans have applied for the ZEP permit. Out of this number 180,104 completed the application process. A total of 147,574 have already been dispatched to VFS and 108,485 have already been collected.” The balance of 39,089 is in the process of being collected or sent to the various VFS collection offices. The remainder of 30 598 is currently being updated on the Departments system and will be dispatched to VFS.”
The department also said that 1,932 applicants had expired passports and cannot be processed. These people need to contact the Zimbabwean Consulate to obtain new passports.
“The Department has met with the Zimbabwean Consulate who undertook to expedite the passport applications of those who did apply. The closing date to submit new passports is 15 December 2018,” said Home Affairs.
In January GroundUp reported on Zimbabweans battling to obtain passports as the closing deadline approached. One of the requirement for the ZEP application was to be in possession of a 90 days valid passport. Eventually Home Affairs extended the deadline to 15 February 2018 to accommodate people who were struggling to obtain their passports.
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I have applied for a business permit in 2010 which was rejected and the reason was I didn't have 1 million in my account. I applied again in 2015, 5 years after I started the business and was rejected. The reason was I did not provide a letter from the Department of Labour.
I started the business in 2010 and I now employ 17 South Africans who are all all earning R3,500 or more. It seems my contribution to the economy and my job creation will never be recognised. I battle a lot financially because I never get loans from a bank. I am apparently operating from my house. I can't just turn my back and leave the team who are looking up to me and we have been through a lot together.
Now my business has been deregistered because of various financial reasons. What should I do about this situation. I have created the much needed jobs but the Government does not recognize me.