Request South African Embassy to Reduce Study Permit Processing Time for Zimbabweans

Request South African Embassy to Reduce Study Permit Processing Time for Zimbabweans

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ZINASU-SA started this petition to South African Embassy and

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Director for Legal and Consular Services
PO Box 4240
Munhumutapa Building
Samora Machel Avenue/Sam Nujoma Street

RE: Zimbabwean Students South African Student Visa application crisis.

THE ZIMBABWE NATIONAL STUDENTS UNION (ZINASU) since its inception has been involved in protecting the rights of Zimbabwean students with the vision of defending the academic freedoms.

Since colonialism, significant numbers of students have received education from prestigious institutions in South Africa such as Fort Hare University, University of Cape Town, and the University of Witwatersrand. As a result, numerous academics, politicians, statesmen and scientists have thronged the halls of South African universities to the betterment of Zimbabwe and South Africa alike.

However, there are serious issues that are making it difficult for students wishing to study in South Africa. The student visa application process has become tedious, exclusionary and expensive.

This is why we have come to your office seeking as much relief and support that you can provide us with in dealing with our deepest challenges. Your direct access to the embassy of South Africa in Zimbabwe, Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe can assist us in dealing with the myriad of issues that are of concern to us.

We have listed the key concerns below with some suggestions as to what can be done to resolve the issues:

1. Study Permit Processing time
The Embassy of South Africa has tabled the visa processing time at 6-8 weeks. However, at the time of writing, students that sent in their applications in October have not received their passports. That is more than 16 weeks in some cases. The effect of this is deep.

Many students arrive late for university. Some have been denied registration on the pretext of late arrival and those who have been allowed to register have recorded low pass rates due to struggling to catch up with their work.

We are of the opinion that study permit processing time needs to be reduced to a maximum of two weeks and must be sensitive to registration requirements of students.

This can be done by hiring staff during the peak student visa application period so as to ensure no application by a student is unduly prolonged.

2. Study permits processing payments should comply with multi-currency regime
From 1 November 2018, VFS Global which is the company contracted by the South African embassy to deal with VISA documentation issues began to demand payment of VISA application fees in United States dollars currency only.

The VFS manager has informed us that there was a directive from the Minister of Finance to all embassies to open and only use FCA accounts. This has led to visa applicants being forced to pay in United States Dollars (USD). Because of the scarcity of the USD in the formal market, students are risking their personal security by trading on the illegal black market. Moreover, most students cannot afford to pay in USD since payments in bond notes is still the norm in the nation.

In respect of the laws of the nation, to ensure that the students are not placed in the jaws of corruption, collusion with embassy staff, and no exclusion of students due to lack of payment we seek that this be raised to the South African embassy. VFS should accept study permit processing payments in whichever legal tender as stipulated by the laws of Zimbabwe and stipulated by the RBZ and the Ministry of Finance.

3. Removal of accommodation requirement for students
The VISA process requires proof of accommodation for students to receive a study VISA. We are of the argument that this requirement be removed for first time applications since the majority of those students will have no family or relation in South Africa.

This requirement has exposed students to con-artists who act as providers of accommodation and once a student arrives in university, they discover that the said accommodation is non-existent or that the person who claimed to be the owner and took the deposit is not the owner of the premises they would have offered.

A solution could be the universities guaranteeing accommodation or support for students’ accommodation needs.

4. Registration process for International Zimbabwean students
Universities in the 2018 academic year were refusing to register students until the transfers from their respective banks based in Zimbabwe were reflecting within the university bank accounts even when students had receipts from their respective banks in Zimbabwe.

Universities need to allow Zimbabwean student to register since it will not be their fault for the bureaucratic delay but that of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Any delay in registration leads to punitive late registration fees and failure to start classes which affects the student’s learning outcomes.


We are aware that we have raised a number of issues that are separate yet interrelated too. We are seeking as much dialogue but more importantly action in terms of dealing with the short-term problems that the students are facing; the key to this being the processing time of the VISA applications.

We do hope that your office can provide us wit adequate support on these difficulties we are facing as students. For and on behalf of the Zimbabwean students in South Africa,

The Zimbabwe National Students Union

ZINASU-SA Representative:
Kudakwashe Manjonjo


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At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!