Many South Africans living abroad are losing the right to work, receive healthcare and remain legally resident in foreign countries because the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is simply unable to process their passports and other crucial documents in a timely manner.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is aware that the DHA has directed that passport renewal applications for citizens living abroad are to resume as of 27 July 2020 since the closure of that service in late March.
However, given the already massive backlog of applications, and that renewals abroad already take 6 to 12 months as well as new uncertainties around processing times due to the lockdown in South Africa, this is of little immediate assistance to those citizens.
It is for this reason that my colleague in Parliament, DA Shadow Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Adrian Roos MP, has written to the Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, to request that the passports of those working and living abroad, in need of urgent renewal, are stamped to remain valid for a period to cover the long waiting times of 6 to 12 months.
The issue of the inefficiency and lack of timeliness in processing passports for those living, working and travelling abroad is not new, it is a decade old problem that both the DHA and their colleagues at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation have shown minimal interest in rectifying.
Government simply cannot blame the Covid-19 pandemic for these delays, as it has only worsened an already dire situation of poor service delivery. It is completely unacceptable that citizens abroad are left in a practical position of statelessness for an undisclosed number of months.
The DA will continue to sound the alarm on the inefficiencies of Home Affairs in protecting the interests of South African citizens abroad.
Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court