Worry over visa applications in Zim

Open letter to the Minister of Home Affairs

Dear Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, greetings to you, I hope my letter finds you well and rested after your exceptional Budget Vote in Parliament.

The writer sekls to alert Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize to the tardy handling of visa applications at the SA embassy in Zimbabwe.

I am pleased to note that you are carrying on with the work of your predecessor Malusi Gigaba who, in my opinion, ran the Department of Home Affairs in an impressive fashion.

Given your professional and academic history, I have no doubt that you will exceed in your role, especially with your plan to modernise the department.

Prof, I would like to bring to your attention an area that sits as deeply concerning for me and many others, which is how the SA embassy manages visa applications in Zimbabwe. You have been appraising critical skills visa (applications) for anything between four days and four weeks.

Are you aware that in Zimbabwe, it takes a minimum of four to eight months and sometimes more to get a response on a critical skills visa?

Are you aware that these timelines are even worse for general work visas to the point that some people take more than a year waiting for a response?

Prof, I do not know if you are aware, but when one applies for a South African visa in Zimbabwe, their passport is taken away on submission of the application.

What this effectively means is that for the duration that they will be adjudicating on your application, you cannot go anywhere.

A passport is an important identity and travel document that is taken away from you.

Prof, please help me understand, is there a good reason for them taking one’s passport?

If the timelines from submission to adjudication were reasonable, I would not have written this letter.

However, in the process, one loses other opportunities that may need a passport to travel to other countries.

When one submits an application in SA, their passport is NOT taken away from them but the opposite is true for the South African embassy in Zimbabwe. May I plead with you, Prof, to ensure that the conditions one gets in SA with regards to this be aligned to those in Zimbabwe?

With the introduction of VFS in the country, applicants no longer have anywhere to ask why the process is taking too long as the mission office has become inaccessible, while the VFS officials rightly tell clients that they do not have any jurisdiction over the processing, neither can they explain why it is taking so long.

Another sore point is that the office in Zimbabwe seems to be rejecting applications willy-nilly for seemingly petty if not unjustifiable reasons.

I know of an applicant who was told they could not prove sufficient funds yet they had a job offer with a salary way above R10000 per month.

I know of another who was rejected for the same reasons with no job offer, but a bank statement confirming a decent inflow of money from a sponsor until he found employment.

I have heard cases of some who were told their documents had expired and needed to resubmit yet when they submitted them they were current and valid, because the adjudication process took too long.

This has led me and many others to ask whether the SA mission in Zimbabwe is genuine in processing applications, or merely raising revenue and rejecting genuine applications to frustrate the process?

I am, on the other hand, elated by the potential scrapping of visas for African travellers.

I am not sure if this will translate to work visas as well.

Please may you provide clarity?

Batsirai Tikunde

Concerned Zimbabwean Citizen