The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Correspondent
THE exercise to register Zimbabweans living in South Africa in need of assistance to return home will begin today with the deployment of Government officials into some communities in the neighbouring country.
The Government delegation arrived in South Africa on Friday ahead of the rollout of the mapping exercise targeting about 178 000 Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders.
The exercise will end on April 1.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa Mr David Hamadziripi told The Sunday Mail that the teams would conduct a comprehensive audit and mapping exercise.
“The delegation will be split into three teams and each team has been assigned to cover three provinces,” he said.
“The teams will be deployed to their respective assigned provinces on 12 March, and they are scheduled to conclude their work on April 1. “We have been assured of the South African government’s support and cooperation during the mapping exercise and in subsequent phases of the return of our nationals.”
Ambassador Hamadziripi said many Zimbabweans were looking forward to Government’s assistance.“The teams will carry out a mapping exercise for the ZEP holders. They will also offer consular services in the form of enabling our nationals to apply for birth certificates and passports,” he added.
“Some ZEP holders are responding to our Government’s invitation to register for assistance or facilitation to return home.
“Others have decided to continue staying in South Africa and are pursuing possibilities of acquiring new visas or permits to regularise their continued stay in the country.”
He, however, urged Zimbabweans to desist from engaging third parties for assistance to facilitate their return. “The Zimbabwe Embassy in Pretoria and the two consulates in Johannesburg and Cape Town do not have agents who act on their behalf. Anyone purporting to be such is a fraudster.
“The public is strongly urged to verify facts with the embassy and the consulates.”
In January last year, the South African government announced the termination of the ZEP arrangement by December and directed permit holders to apply for visas to remain in the country on the basis of a list of critical skills.
The deadline was later extended to June this year. The mapping will commence today in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga province, at the Oewesig Community Hall near Lowveld Show Grounds until Wednesday.
Another meeting is scheduled for Witbank in Gereformeerde from Thursday to Saturday in the same province. In Western Cape province, the exercise will kick off tomorrow at the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town until Wednesday, while another meeting will be held in the same province in George City on Thursday and Conville Community Hall on Friday. The last mapping meeting in the province will be held on March 31 in Vredenburg at Hall Vredenburg.
In Limpopo province, the exercise starts on Tuesday and runs until Friday at Orpenview, Polokwane. The North West province team will conduct the exercise from March 20 to March 22 in Rustenburg at Hellenic Centre, and in Mahikeng City from March 25 to March 27 at Mocoseng Sundown Resorts.
In Gauteng province, the outreach programme will kick off on March 29 to April 1 in Johannesburg at the Consulate of Zimbabwe.
In Free State province, the exercise will run from March 20 to 22 in Bloemfontein at Ramblers Club, while meetings in Northern Cape province will take place from March 26 until March 28 in Kimberley at Kimberley City Hall.
In KwaZulu Natal province, the registration exercise will be held between March 24 and 25 in Newcastle at Status Hall, and between March 27 and 31 in Durban at the Durban Jewish Club.
Registration in Eastern Cape province will commence on March 19 up to March 20 in Port Elizabeth at The Cathedral Church, St Mary’s Terrace and from March 22 to 23 in East London at Orient Theatre.