By Wallace Ruzvidzo
The easing of lockdown restrictions in South Africa has resulted in rising demand for work and study permits at the Zimbabwe consulate in Johannesburg as more Zimbabweans return to work in the neighbouring country.
At the height of the Covid-19-induced lockdown in South Africa, thousands of Zimbabweans made requests to return home after either being laid off or failing to make ends meet.
Consul-General for Zimbabwe in Johannesburg Ms Melody Chaurura told The Sunday Mail that the consulate was battling a growing backlog of work and study permits from Zimbabweans seeking to remain in South Africa.
“As the lockdown has eased to Level 1, we have seen the reopening of most sectors of the economy in South Africa.
“During the peak of the lockdown (Levels 3-4), we had most of the sectors closed. Because of that, our people were affected. Most of them were not able to pay rentals and buy food,” she said.
“Under normal circumstances, we serve up to 4 000 clients. We were closed for five months, which means we created an organic backlog of up to 20 000 clients. That on its own requires us to develop a mechanism that will see us serving more people a day. Our people cannot function with their passports expiring. People lose jobs when permits cannot be renewed. Students cannot enrol at their various institutions if their permits are not renewed,” she said.
Requests for people who intended to return home have markedly dropped.
“We have less requests now from people who are returning to Zimbabwe. As was the case with other countries, the lockdown led to loss of jobs and our people were really affected, but now things are returning to normal.”
By September, more than 5 000 Zimbabweans had been assisted to return home from South Africa, while an additional 2 538 were repatriations of Zimbabweans who died in the neighbouring country. The Sunday Mail