South Africa's December 31 deadline for Zimbabweans to apply for permits to work, study or run a business there has passed, civic activists say much work remains to be done adding that the documentation drive missed a great number of Zimbabweans.
The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum and a South African pressure group, People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty or Passop, said their biggest concern remains the apparent inability of the Harare government to produce enough passports to meet the demand from many thousands of Zimbabweans in South Africa.
South African officials said about a quarter of a million permit applications were received by the December 31 deadline – though it is not clear how many of those were complete given widespread difficulties among Zimbabwean obtaining new passports. The Harare government can only turn out some 500 passports a day, sources have said.
The organizations said the Harare government seemed less committed to the process than South African authorities. Passop Director Braam Hanekom said the next phase of the documentation process will depend very much on the response by Harare.
Civic activists said more than a million Zimbabweans remain undocumented after they failed to meet the deadline. And with South African authorities adamant that the deadline will not be extended, activists say they see a large-scale deportations ahead.
South African officials said those who failed to apply will have to bear the consequences, but have said there will be no deportations until the documention drive is finished.