23 February 2011
South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs has given an assurance that applications for study, work, business, temporary and permanent residence permits will soon be completed.
Briefing reporters on the department’s permitting regime in Pretoria this week, department Director-General Mkuseli Apleni said that as of November last year, the backlog on all permit applications, excluding applications by Zimbabweans, was approximately 38 039.
Since then, the said that the backlog had been reduced by 24 323 applications, with outstanding permit applications currently receiving attention being 13 667.
“The department has increased its capacity to deal with all permit applications, created as a consequence of the centralisation process has enabled the department to attend to 1 600 permit applications per day,” Apleni said.
He said that with the department now being able to attend to 8 000 applications per week, the backlog should be substantially reduced or even eradicated by the end of March.
“The reduction of the backlog on permit applications must be seen within the context of the overall commitment of the department to deliver quality service to the people as part of the fulfilment of its constitutional mandate,” he said.
Leading normal lives
Apleni said that as the department, they will do everything in their power to ensure that all permit applications are attended to expeditiously to enable applicants to lead normal lives without the constant fear of arrest and deportation.
“We recognise that most of these applicants contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of our economy and country. We have to do everything to ensure that such skills are retained in the country,” he said.
First-time applicants for temporary residents will now get their permits after four weeks, while those applying for permanent resident will have to wait for six months or before as a result of the new measures.
Centralised permit applications
Apleni said through centralisation, the department has assumed full control and accountability over all permit applications that are submitted at all regional offices across the country.
The department has also implemented a filing system where all permits are held according to provinces, offices, category and date of application.
The centralisation has contributed to the security of all permits since the department knows to whom permits are being issued and for what reason.
Through the centralisation process, permit renewals of all categories are issued within 48 hours. The centralisation system has also enabled permits to go electronic.
In this regard, the issuance of permits is now fully integrated with the Movement Control System which facilitates the entry into South Africa of visitors into the country.
Permits for Zimbabweans
According to Apleni, the total number of applications for Zimbabweans they have adjudicated stands at approximately 66 000 out of 275 762.
“We have announced that the remaining applications will be adjudicated by 30 June 2011. This will include the adjudication and dispatch to regional offices of issued permits.
“We have committed ourselves to concluding the documentation of Zimbabweans project by 30 June 2011,” he said.
He further said Zimbabweans are still allowed to apply for permits: “The permitting regime in South Africa has not closed. We only closed the process for Zimbabweans nationals to apply for study, work and business permits on the relaxed conditions.
“Any Zimbabweans nationals coming in can still apply for study, work and business permits although they will be subjected to and must comply with the normal requirements. It is only the special dispensation for Zimbabweans nationals that has closed,” he said.