The team of 41 officers from the Registrar General that was dispatched to South Africa to expedite the issuing of documents to Zimbabwean nationals who have been living in that country without permits have commenced their work.
The 41 officers who arrived in Johannesburg during the weekend are being led by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Joey Bimha and Registrar-General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede.
They were deployed in Johannesburg, Capetown and Polokwane in the Limpopo province in South Africa Monday after a one-day induction session.
In a telephone interview, Zimbabweâ€™s Consul-General to South Africa, Mr Chris Mapanga said the demand for the documents has shot-up significantly since South Africaâ€™s Ministry of Home Affairs launched the programme of issuing permits to Zimbabweans who were living illegally in that country.
The programme was launched on the 20th of September this year and it is expected to end on the 31st of December 2010, after which Zimbabweans without permits face deportation.
Mr. Mapanga said South Africaâ€™s Ministry of Home Affairs has so far issued a total of 3 000 permits as of last Friday and 6 000 other applicants have been processed.
However, long queues still characterise both the South African Home Affairs Department and the Zimbabwean side which is giving out passports and other documents required for the issuing of permits.
Mapanga said out of a total of 1,5 million Zimbabweans resident in South Africa, 300 000 to 500 000 of them either do not have documents or have invalid ones.
Mr Mapanga ruled out any possibilities of cheating by non Zimbabweans trying to acquire Zimbabwean documents saying the nationality verification process is very tight and that there is no possibility of foreigners acquiring Zimbabwean papers.
The deployment of the 41 officers from the Registrar-Generalâ€™s office in Harare is meant to reinforce the Zimbabwean consular team based in South Africa.
The consul had already issued some 7 000 documents since the beginning of the SA Home Affairs department programme to give out permits to Zimbabweans.