SA Home Affairs takes nine months to process permits for Zimbabweans

Some Zimbabweans who have submitted an application last year are still waiting, as the September deadline for ZEP licenses is looming.

Morgan (deferred surname) applied for an exemption permit for Zimbabwe on 7 December 2017. She has followed her application online. "So far nothing new, almost nine months after the submission," she said. Photo: Brent Meersman

Some Zimbabweans who have applied for their Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) are concerned about the slow progress of their permits. Without a valid permit to show that they find their bank accounts frozen, they struggle to register their children with educational institutions and even lose their jobs.

The ZEP replaces the ZSP (Zimbabwean Special Permit) which ended in December 2017. In December, Home Affairs issued a circular to banks, employers and learning institutions that, as long as people could show proof of application for the ZEP, they should continue to receive their application. GroundUp is aware, however, of a number of cases where banks, schools and employers have not followed this advice.

Applications for the ZEP opened on 15 September 2017 and the closing date (twice extended) was 15 February 2018.

On January 31, Home Affairs announced that the ZEP process, including completion of tenders and issuing of all new permits, would be completed by the end of September 2018.

But on 6 September, media manager David Hlabane of the Interior reported in an e-mail reply to GroundUp that the department is currently assessing applications received before the closing date and that the process should have been completed by October.

GroundUp has been trying every day since Monday to get an answer from Home Affairs on how many applications have been successfully processed, but without success.

Morgan (surname remembered) will apply on December 7, 2017. She has followed her application online. "So far nothing new, almost nine months after the submission," she said.

Cindy (surname withheld) told GroundUp in an e-mail: "I submitted my paperwork in January and still nothing." She says she was suspended from work six weeks ago. Her employer wants her to show a valid permit. She has provided proof of the application and shown the receipt, but she says her employer was not satisfied.

A Zimbabwean man, who also wanted to remain anonymous, said that he had submitted a ZEP study permit for his daughter in February, but he only received a text message that his daughter's application was received by Home Affairs on 24 August. He said his Capitec bank account was frozen.

Helen (remember last name) is worried she might not get her salary this week after FNB frozen her account last December. Her employer has paid her in cash, but says that the company can not continue to do so.

The ZEP Dispensation Forum on Facebook encourages Zimbabweans not only to check online, but also to visit the offices of the Visa Facilitation Center (VFS), the company that processes the permits for home affairs. The page contains messages from people who signed up in November 2017 and who have not yet received their ZEP & # 39; s and people who struggle without documentation.

Most Zimbabweans in South Africa are uncertain about their future in the country since the start of the Zimbabwean Permit (DZP) dispensation in 2010. Approximately 245,000 DZPs were issued. It was valid for four years and would not be renewable. It was later extended to three years and renamed the ZSP in 2014. A little less than 200,000 ZSP licenses were issued. Again, Home Affairs said in December 2016 that there would be no renewal of the ZSP, but in 2017 it created the ZEP, which is valid for four years.

The ZEP states that the document "does not allow the holder to apply for a permanent residence permit, regardless of the period of residence in South Africa." ZEP can not be renewed and the holder can not change the terms of the license in SA ". – Source: GroundUp

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