Cape Town – Around 64% of Zimbabweans working in the country on a dispensation permit have applied for an extension until 2017, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said in Cape Town on Thursday.
He was confident that the 249 000 people in the country on a Dispensation for Zimbabwe Project permit would apply for the new Special Dispensation Permit (SDP). The deadline is 31 December.
Only those with the initial permit would be allowed to apply. Those without a permit would have to go through the normal routes to obtain a work, travel, or study visa.
Zimbabweans in the country illegally were granted an opportunity from 2009 to legalise their stay via the permit, as a result of the political and socio-economic conditions in their country.
Gigaba said those with the old permit could apply via a website for the SDP. They would be issued a barcode, a track and trace number, and a date for a face-to-face interview.
Gigaba visited the Cape Town branch of VFS Global – the company dealing with the applications – on Thursday morning to assess the process.
People patiently queued for their interview while holding onto their passports and proof of employment, business, or study.
Biometric photographs and fingerprints were taken. Fingerprints were submitted to the police’s automatic fingerprint identification system to check for criminal records and results were returned within two days.
Gigaba said completed applications were submitted electronically to home affairs for adjudication and concluded within a month to two months.
Just over 20% of applications had been adjudicated so far.
He anticipated that all permits should be issued by the end of April.
Gigaba said they would soon begin a similar process for the Basotho, Mozambicans, and other Southern African Development Community nationals.
“The processes are not going to be open-ended. We are going to be strict about it,” he said.
There are 11 visa facilitation centres in the country and four new centres for Gauteng, Western Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, where there had been a high number of applications.