As a year-end deadline in South Africa approaches for Zimbabweans to regularize their residency status, the Home Affairs office is urging them to persist in seeking documents even if it does not seem likely they will complete the process by December 31.
Officials said even preliminary and partial documentation could help them acquire a safe haven against being deported as illegal aliens as of January 1.
South African authorities have been adamant that the deadlilne will not be extended - but modifications to the documentation program give Zimbabweans who have had problems renewing passports or securing other papers a chance to submit applications before the fast-appproaching deadline so they will at least be in a Home Office database.
For instance, those who have a receipt showing they have applied for a Zimbabwean passport, or who have some other form of Zimbabwean identity docment can submit an application to the Home Office for a four-year residency permit.
The Home Office said applications can be sumbitted without fingerprints, as those can be collected once all necessary documents are provided by an applicant.
But officials warn that Zimbabweans cannot use passport receipts or other documents being accepted as the basis of applications as travel documents. Those still in Zimbabwe must obtain a passport before entering South Africa to complete the process.
South African Home Affairs Director General Mkuseli Apleni told VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo that those without any identification will be entered into a special database – but stressed that they must provide their information before the deadline to the Home Office, the Harare government or non-government organizations helping in the process.
One option for Zimbabweans without any documents at all is to submit their particulars to a member organization of the Stakeholders Forum, which will pass the information on to the Department of Home Affairs. Any member organization can accept data.
Ngqabutho Dube of the South African office of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Zimbabwean Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said his party has been submitting names and encouraged Zimbabweans to call the party office.