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Zimbabwe Passport Bottleneck Holding Up South African Documentation Process

  • Tatenda Gumbo
  • Chris Gande

South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said processing 275,000 applications for residency permits has been held up because authorities in Harare have failed to provide new passports

Zimbabwean and South African Home Affairs ministers are to meet next week to discuss continued problems documenting Zimbabweans living south of the Limpopo River that separates the two countries - in particular Harare's slow production of passports.

South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said processing 275,000 applications for residency permits has been held up because authorities in Harare have failed to provide new passports to many of those applying for four-year passes.

Zimbabwe Documentation Project Manager Jacob Mamabolo said Pretoria will engage Zimbabwe on expediting passport issuance, but told VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo that the ministry cannot get involved in the administrative process.

Thousands of Zimbabweans seeking to regularize their stay with a study, work or business permit, but were not in possession of passports were given until December 31 to submit applications even if they lacked passports or birth certificates. Applications were to be completed once Zimbabwean expatriates provided all documents.

Nqabutho Dube of the Stakeholders Forum set up to help Zimbabweans seeking South African residency permits told reporter Chris Gande that his group is pressuring Harare to step up passport production from the current pace of 500 a day.

South Africa has offered technical assistance but Harare has not accepted it though this could step up the rate of passport production to thousands a day.

Social activist Braam Hanekom, director of People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty said the government in Harare has let down its citizens, inviting protests.

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