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No Joy for Zimbabweans Seeking SA Work Permits

A South African-based refugee support group is lobbying Pretoria to process thousands of outstanding work permit applications for Zimbabweans which were submitted nearly three years ago when the documentation project was launched.

People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) recently approached the home affairs ministry over the permits yet to be received by Zimbabweans who applied when the South African government embarked on the program to document Zimbabweans living in that country.

South Africa launched the project in 2010 to issue four-year work, business and study permits for Zimbabweans living in South Africa, awarding some 250,000 permits in the process.

The project which was expected to end in December 2010, was extended to July 2011, but still met low expectations after authorities expected the nearly 1,5 million in Zimbabweans living in South Africa to take advantage of the scheme.

However, many who applied say they are yet to receive the permits prompting PASSOP and other relevant organizations to act.

Cape Town-based PASSOP said the ministry has since closed an office that was dedicated to the permits with new applicants being forced to travel to a provincial centre manned by one person.

In Johannesburg, human rights lawyer Thuto Radebe has launched his own initiative to assist Zimbabweans affected by the delays.

He is taking legal action against Pretoria, challenging the home affairs department to release the permits.

VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo spoke to PASSOP head-paralegal officer Langton Miriyoga, who laments lack of progress in the documentation program as Zimbabweans continue to be deportation targets.
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“We’ve got many people who are still stuck with their receipts and they are only left with those receipts and their passports, nothing else now some employers for example have started dismissing people from employment because by now they should have received their permits” said Miriyoga

He said those same Zimbabweans are facing issue went attempting to access healthcare and treatment among many other issues.

Human rights lawyer thuto radebe said he is providing free consultations to Zimbabweans still waiting for their permits. He has already assisted many Zimbabweans, and said he will continue to do so for those that approach him.