Mugabe won’t ask SA for extension of permits deadline

Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has accused Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party of deliberately derailing the documentation of Zimbabweans living in South Africa.\r\n

“We are actually dismayed by the lukewarm attitude of the (Zimbabwe) government towards its citizens, they should be assisting but they are throwing spanners in the project,” South Africa-based MDC spokesperson Sibanengi Dube said yesterday.

The comments came amid fears that thousands of Zimbabweans would not be able to meet today’s deadline that South African authorities set for them to regularise their stay in the country.

The process of regularisation requires Zimbabweans to be in possession of passports from their country. But the Zimbabwe embassy has only been able to issue about 500 passports a day.

Mugabe rejected outright the South African government’s efforts to assist Zimbabwe to produce more passports.

“We are of the view that the Zimbabwean government isn’t excited about this project, (because) it will enable citizens to go and vote,” Dube said.

Minister of Home Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said this week an offer to Zimbabwe of a printing press with a capacity of printing 100 000 passports daily was ignored by Harare.

Speaking from Harare, the Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo dismissed the MDC assertions as “nonsensical”.

“We cannot turn against our own people – MDC assumes everyone who is South Africa will vote for them,” he said. “We have supporters living and working there.”

The South African government has insisted that it would not extend the ­regularisation deadline, which ends today.

The director of Zimbabwe Exiles Forum Gabriel Shumba said the Zimbabwean government was not keen to assist with this project. “They have failed to attend most stakeholder meetings with Minister Dlamini-Zuma.

“They have indicated that they don’t care. It’s unlikely they will seek an extension.”

Human Rights groups in the country have been calling for an extension of the deadline to allow an easy process.

More than 150 000 applications have been lodged with Home Affairs, which is a small number compared with the three million Zimbabweans estimated to be living in South Africa illegally.