Zimbabwean govt to meet passport deadline

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pretoria - The Zimbabwean government is confident that by the end of July, it would have issued passports to thousands of its citizens who have applied to have their stay in South Africa regularised.

Almost 280 000 Zimbabwean nationals met the 31 December deadline set by the South African government, by which they had to apply to have their stay regularised.

However, about 60 000 applications were received without the passports, which are necessary to finalise the documentation process.

Speaking after a meeting with Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in Pretoria on Tuesday, Zimbabwean Home Affairs Ministers Kembo Mohadi and Theresa Makone said Zimbabwe would meet the deadline by which the passports had to be issued.

Initially, all the passports were to be issued by the end of June, but after meetings with her Zimbabwean counterparts, Dlamini Zuma agreed to extend that deadline to the end of July.

Zimbabwean officials would work overtime and over weekends to ensure that it produced 3 000 passports over the next 20 weeks in order to meet the July deadline, Makone said.

"We can safely say that at this stage, looking at the numbers we shouldn't have any problems left by the end of July," she added.

Of the 60 000 not in possession of passports, about 17 000 had no documentation proving they were Zimbabwean citizens. These people would be referred to the Zimbabwean government to check if their names are on the relevant database.

If they were not recorded on the database, then the applicants would be interviewed to "sift out" the Zimbabweans from the non-Zimbabweans, Makone said.

Mohadi said it was a remarkable achievement that only 60 000 of the almost 280 000 applicants did not have passports.

A lot of ground had already been covered with regards to the passports and Zimbabwean authorities would be able to "churn out" the passports in the next few months, he added.

Dlamini Zuma noted that some of the 60 000 Zimbabweans who did not have passports, had not even applied for one. She urged them to do so as soon as possible.

"We will not extend the deadline for people who have not applied... By the end of July, everyone should have a passport and then we will wrap up this process," she said.

Apart from the issue of passports, the ministers also discussed other areas of concern such as human trafficking, border security and the movement of people within the region.

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