The Zimbabwe Community in South Africa has expressed concern on the delay in the issuance of emergency travel documents and permits for migrants living in the neighbouring country despite their efforts to engage the government.
This comes at a time when many migrants living in the neighbouring country are struggling to renew their documents, following the ongoing Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The closure of the Beitbridge border post as part of efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 left migrants in a lurch as they can’t travel back home to renew their passports and permits.
Speaking to CITE, Zimbabwe Community in South Africa Spokesperson Bongani Mazwi Mkhwananzi said they are aware of many migrants who need to renew their documents.
“We are aware that a large number of Zimbabweans need to renew their documents and with the current lockdown may face difficulties doing this. We have compiled a list of questions on a survey from which we intend to use the statistics gathered to engage all stakeholders on this matter of passport and permit renewals,” said Mkhwananzi.
Mkhwananzi said despite the Registrar General office reviewing emergency passport application fees to US$318, there was still a delay in processing the documents.
“Some of the questions relate to affordability and dependant/ children issues which we hope to address. We are aware that in as much as the Zimbabwean government has claimed that the US$318 fee is only for a one-day passport, the reality on the ground is that this is still the fee which gives any chance of timely producing of a passport.
“Despite our protest and subsequent assurance by the government that this fee was only for the one-day passport, we still find this exorbitant fee in place and is an unfair and unjustified burden on many of our compatriots who have meagre incomes and will even be worse off now with the Covid-19 lockdown,” he said.
Mkhwananzi said the delay in the release of passports is affecting the struggling Zimbabweans living in South Africa.
“When we lamented about the exorbitant prices, the government claimed that this was only for the one-day passport application, however, we find that those who applied for a passport at a nominal fee they have either or received their passports or it took way too long.
“We take issue with this, whether it’s from incompetence or intention, it’s a problem for struggling Zimbabweans living in South Africa,” he said.
Mkhwananzi added that the application process was cumbersome and requires one to travel to Zimbabwe to submit if they can’t find someone with the same surname to drop off the application on their behalf.
“When we last engaged the authorities on this, we were assured the government was going to facilitate overall applications at the Consulate and Embassies, we are concerned this has taken this long,” said Mkhwananzi.