Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Starting Tuesday, Zimbabwe’s consulate in South Africa will commence the rollout of an e-passport facility. This initiative was announced by Consul-General Eria Phiri in a public notice, marking a significant step towards providing legal documentation for Zimbabwean nationals residing in South Africa.

Training and Implementation

The first phase of this project involved training consulate staff, which concluded on June 15. The next phase is a system test run, scheduled from June 18 to June 21. This trial period will allow the consulate to assess the system’s responsiveness and effectiveness in a real-world environment before the full rollout to the public.

Population and Documentation Challenges

South Africa is home to over one million Zimbabwean nationals, according to census data and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Many Zimbabweans have migrated to escape political turmoil, economic hardship, and underdevelopment in their home country. The IOM highlights that a significant number of these migrants lack proper documentation, compounding their challenges.

Legal Context of Work Permits

The rollout of e-passports comes amidst a legal battle over the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEPs). In December, South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, extended the validity of ZEPs for two years, allowing Zimbabweans to work, study, and live in South Africa until November 29, 2025. However, they will not be eligible for permanent residency thereafter. This extension followed a Supreme Court of Appeal decision in February that declared the termination of the ZEP programme unlawful, unconstitutional, and invalid.

Training for Consular Staff

To facilitate the processing of e-passports, Zimbabwe’s Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Ambassador Raphael Faranisi, announced in May that registration officers would travel to South Africa to train consular staff. During the trial run, a limited number of clients will be randomly selected from those visiting the consulate for passport applications.

E-Passport Requirements and Costs

The cost of the e-passport is set at USD 150, with an additional fee of USD 20 for a QR code. Applicants need to provide original birth certificates, identification documents, and, if applicable, marriage certificates. Payment methods will be communicated to selected participants, and the consulate has clarified that there are no agents acting on its behalf in Cape Town, Johannesburg, or Pretoria.

This initiative aims to streamline the documentation process for Zimbabwean nationals in South Africa, providing a legal and efficient means to secure e-passports.

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