South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says her government will not extend the looming December 31 deadline for Zimbabwean nationals to legalize their stay in that country.
Addressing a news conference after meeting with South African and Zimbabwean representatives on Wednesday, Dlamini-Zuma admitted there were challenges that needed to be addressed in processing applications for hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans who are seeking permits.
She said the December 31 deadline was "very firm" and will not be extended, much to the dismay of nationals who have have not been able to secure Zimbabwean passports so far.
However, Dlamini-Zuma said Pretoria had a database of everyone who has applied to legalise their status and will have their permits processed even after the deadline.
She encouraged Zimbabweans who claim to have been harassed by the police while seeking the permits to approach her department.
Logistics Officer Richard Kadziwe of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, said most Zimbabwean nationals were still facing major difficulties in securing passports from Harare to allow them to legalize their stay in South Africa.
Kadziwe told VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenga Gumbo that Pretoria's decision to process all applications submitted by the deadline was significant, as both governments will benefit after the completion of the process.