Press Statement: Seeking Clarification from the Department of Home Affairs

(NEW IMPORTANT NOTICE: for all Zimbabweans in the Western Cape still waiting on their ZDP permits: the Home Affairs office processing these is moving from Wynberg to BELLVILLE (Boston House, Voortrekker Road) starting from Monday, 22 August.)

PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

In light of a lack of clarity following recent announcements by the Department of Home Affairs concerning the Zimbabwean Dispensation Project and the moratorium on deportations, PASSOP and ZEF have prepared an information document on the key issues, for media and for Home Affairs to clarify.

In the interests of concerned Zimbabweans who have been contacting us in large numbers trying to understand the latest developments, we have prepared the below document outlining our understanding of the latest information. We encourage the media to ask the department to publicly correct any errors- as they have made numerous changes, confusing the media, the public & civil society. Although the department has engaged stakeholders of late, on Tuesday they failed to utilize their stakeholder’s forum and instead made announcements in the media. This left NGOs, the departments own stakeholders’ forum and the broader civil society conveying mixed messages, thus confusing the message that the department wants to convey.

As stakeholders we feel strongly that the stakeholder’s forum should be utilized to debate and discuss decisions before media announcements are made. We are hereby humbly seeking clarity as we have been left uninformed by the department and ministry, and were instead informed of the new developments after Tuesday’s press conference. We thank the media for their coverage of the issue and for their continued interest in human rights issues, such as the protection of vulnerable people and the need for honest governance.

Having studied the transcript of their latest press conference we found the department’s indirect answers to several questions capable of paving the way to more uncertainty. As such we outlined our understanding of the current situation below. We encourage media to engage them on this so they may reject or accept any of our claims below- hopefully their response brings further clarity to the broader community of those concerned.

We state openly the following:

1. The department has not lifted the moratorium on deportations of Zimbabwean nationals.
2. We are relieved by the departments’ consistent and continued stance that there will be no mass deportations.
3. The department has now “added a grace period” to the Zimbabwean Dispensation Project- allowing the month of August for the collection/distribution of permits. *This is a new development, as the month of August was not mentioned in the following two transcripts from previous press conferences, including the one referred to during this week’s press conference. In the transcripts it can be seen the department said it would close the process at the end of July. For transcripts of the 22nd of February 2011 press conference please click here and the transcript of the 30th of June 2011 please click here.
4. The department will keep in place the moratorium on deportations of Zimbabwean nationals until the end of this project, *as previously promised- but the deadline was previously set at the 31st of July.
5. All Zimbabweans who are seeking asylum and who are undocumented will have until and beyond the completion of the Zimbabwean Dispensation Project to regularise their stay in South Africa, through applying for refugee status at any refugee reception centre. If they are caught without documents they cannot be deported if they declare their intension to apply for refugee status- in accordance with the recent judgment in the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum versus Home Affairs case.
6. All applicants of the Zimbabwean Dispensation Permits will be allowed to work, study or run businesses until they are called upon to collect their permits, through smses.
7. The department will review all rejections this month.
8. To appeal applicants must send their appeals to either the director general or the chief director of the Zimbabwean Documentation Project. Appeals that not been successful should ultimately be lodged with the minister.

For comment contact:

Gabriel Shumba-Zimbabwe Exiles Forum on 0726393795 or gabmrech@gmail.com

Braam Hanekom- 0832561140 or braam@passop.co.za

3 responses to “Press Statement: Seeking Clarification from the Department of Home Affairs

  1. Can you tell us in brief what the judgement in the ZEF Vs Home affairs entails? The other funny thing is that most of the people who applied for these ZDP ( Mapermits ava Gono eBhakosi) in December are still to be called for fingure prints.

    • Hi there,

      The case of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum and 34 others v Minister of Home Affairs, Director General of Home Affairs, Lindela etc is mainly relevant to asylum seekers; and the court judgement had far reaching implications to the asylum seeker process.

      The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum(ZEF) took the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), Lindela Holding Facility and others to court questioning the lawfulness and validity of the following policies/practices of the DHA: failure to provide asylum seeker permits at the time of application; failure to verify the identities and statuses of asylum seekers who were still waiting for their section 22 permits, and their subsequent detention; continued detention of asylum seekers who had submitted their applications whilst in detention until their application is finalised. Lastly, the detention of asylum seekers with applications which were rejected as unfounded and who wanted to appeal, pending the outcome of the appeal process.

      The court found all the above practices to be unlawful, inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid. It is as a result of this case that newcomers can now apply for and get their asylum permits the same day they apply. This also explains why those who are on appeal are not being detained and newcomers are applying for asylum permits out of detention.

      If you have any specific problem that you need specific advice and assistance on, please contact us on 021 820 4664 or e mail us to: office@passop.co.za

      Good luck,

      Regards,

      PASSOP team.

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