By Sibanengi Dube
Processing of passports applications came to a standstill at the Zimbabwe Consulate’s Beula Park two days before the 31 December deadline when nearly 50 000 Zimbabweans turned up.
The security sealed off entrance from early afternoon until the end of business hours as the Consulate staff members threw their hands in the air conceding failure to deal with the high number of applicants.
Gates and the razor fences were pulled down as impatient Zimbabweans muscle their way into the Consulate offices, but only to realize that everything has virtually came to a stand-still.
A few employees of the Consulate were seen distributing Standard bank deposit slips to applicants on queues, urging them to pay money into the Zimbabwe government account, before getting any services. In the late afternoon the bank-slips ran out living exhausted applicants high and dry.
The Consulate then started distributing SA Home Affairs application forms for work, study and business permits. Some applicants filled in their work permit forms and surrendered them to Zimbabwe Consulate offices, oblivious of the fact that the papers were supposed to be handed to South African authorities.
MDC SA Treasurer Amon Ndlovu addressed eased the congestion for application forms when he arrived with a truckload of them and distributed them for free, much to the excitement of hopeless applicants.
He addressed the crowds advising them to immediately stop coming to the Zimbabwe Consulate and rush to SA Home Affairs and apply for work permits, using their birth-certificates or ID cards.
“We are urging everyone who is here to approach SA Home Affairs offices and submit your applications for a work permit using your birth-certificates and ID cards because you are wasting your time here,” said Ndlovu.
Ndlovu urged the Zimbabweans to temporarily suspend dealing with the Zimbabwe consulate adding that it was crucial to submit their applications with Home Affairs before Friday.
Sibanengi Dube is the MDC-T spokesman in South Africa.