Relief for SA-based Zimbabwean Students: Registrations and Visa Applications

South Africa-based Zimbabwean students have been offered a lifeline as universities there have agreed to keep the registration period open while the South African embassy in Harare and the South African Ministry of Home Affairs are expediting visa applications.

There had been anxiety as academic visas in South Africa were taking too long to be issued while registration deadlines lapsed.

After pressure from South African students’ union, authorities in the country assured Zimbabwean students of a quick resolve and a registration waiver.

South Africa`s Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor said they have negotiated with universities in the country to be lenient with Zimbabwean students who might miss their deadlines as a result of document delays.

“Regarding international students, in particular Zimbabwean students and visa delays, I am informed that there has been discussion with IEASA (International Education Association of South Africa) and Home Affairs and individual institutions to allow places to be kept open for students who have been affected by the delays in processing visas,” she said in a recent statement.

The delays in the processing of visas have been attributed to understaffing at the Harare embassy, with reports suggesting that the South African mission receives an average of 120 applications per day but there are three people tasked with processing them.

“This work is ongoing. I am also informed that the visa backlog is being addressed and many students have been able to enter the country. We are committed to assisting in addressing these matters with Departments of Home Affairs, International Relations and Cooperation, and universities, where possible,” Pandor said.

The Southern Times sent questions to South Africa`s Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele but he had not responded at the time of going to print.

SA universities have also given their assurances to students, on their registration deadlines and penalties.

University of Cape Town (UCT) Vice Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng met with student unions at their campus last week and addressed the Zimbabwean student issue.

A promise was made that Zimbabwean students will not face a late registration penalty when they register.

The institution later released a statement affirming her undertaking.

“The university recognises the deeply unfortunate and difficult situation faced by our Zimbabwean students – not only at UCT but other institutions across the country. The university, through the International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO) has been engaging the Department of Home Affairs on the matter as well,” read the statement.

UCT has provided a leeway for Zimbabwean students to register even in the absence of proof of payment.

“UCT has been allowing Zimbabwean students to register as long as they provide proof of transaction even without the money being cleared by financial institutions. Our Zimbabwean students also have the option of utilising UNESCO bonds, through which they make a payment to UNESCO and the money is later paid to UCT.

“UCT has also exempted all affected Zimbabwean students from incurring the late registration charges,” the university added.

Although they have tried to assist, the institutions are still cautious as there are chancers who may try to take advantage of the break from the usual bureaucratic systems.

“The university is addressing each situation on a case by case basis, being sensitive to the fact that different programmes would have different attendance requirements in order to ensure optimum success for the student,” the statement said.

Students have been organising themselves supplying lists to international offices at their various institutions as they wait for their documentation.

The Zimbabwean Government also added its voice to the issue, urging students to stay calm as the situation was being contained.

“Foreign Affairs intervened and they were given the visas. I think there were about 70 students who were affected but it is sorted now,” Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said.

There are many Zimbabwean students at South African universities and the recurring visa hiccups have been a cause for concern for a few years.

The Zimbabwe National Students Union South Africa Chapter, which has been at the forefront of lobbying for the extension of deadlines, says there are still loose ends which need to be tied.

Speaking to The Southern Times, Zinasu-SA representative, Tafadzwa Kwaramba, said most students whom applied for permits in January had their paperwork sorted.

“We have made considerable progress, many students who applied in December and January have managed to acquire their study permits and it appears the embassy ended up sending them to be processed in Pretoria where they presumably have manpower.

“However, we can safely say that the majority of students have acquired study permits through our efforts,” Kwaramba said.

He, however, said their concern is on students who applied for their visas late.

“However, a few questions remain on those who applied after the batches were sent to Pretoria for processing. We will only concur once we see results just as we saw them with the study permits. Right now we have students at the University of Johannesburg who have been denied registration and they have forfeited their spots as they were late for university due to getting permits late,” said Kwaramba.

“If pronouncements are being made at ministerial level, there needs to be compliance at implementation level. Zimbabwe students at UCT still can’t register because of the fee blocks and late release of money by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,” he said.

Bank transfers are delaying from the Zimbabwean side, so South African financial institutions cannot clear tuition payments, yet international students need to have paid full amounts before the commencement of the semester.

Other universities like UCT have been accepting proof of deposit from the Zimbabwean side even before the money is cleared into the South African banking system.

However, there were reports that there were students at other institutions who were not enjoying the same clemency.

 

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Sources: Leroy Dzenga via The Southern Times [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], Ross Sneddon [2], Priscilla Du Preez [3].

What are the Legal Options for Zimbabweans in SA who Fear Going Back Home?

Zimbabweans currently in South Africa have the once-off option to extend their visa exemptions for a further 90 days if they haven’t done so already, says immigration lawyer William Le Roux.

Many Zim nationals fear to return their homeland amid the ongoing unrest over the high cost of living and drastic full price hike.

“They are able to extend their visas for a further 90 days, but they can only do that once from within South Africa. After they have done that once, then they would need to leave the country”, Le Roux said.

Le Roux says the alternative option for Zimbabweans is to overstay their visitor’s visa and submit an authorisation application

Visa authorisation applications, also known as a letter of good cause, allow for visa applications from within South Africa.

“The Director-General of Home Affairs can authorise you to make an application for a visa, despite the fact that you don’t have legal status in the country. People who are in the country illegally cannot apply for a new visa within the country unless the DG tells them that they may”, he commented.

Click here to listen to the full discussion from CapeTalk’s The Eusebius McKaiser Show.

 

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

From The Hippo’s Ears: Zimbabwe

Facts you may not have know about Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe, officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country located in southern Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers, bordered by South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. The capital and largest city is Harare. Zimbabwe has 16 official languages, with English, Shona, and Ndebele the most commonly used.

Zimbabwe has a population of approximately 16 million, is a Unitary presidential republic, and gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1980.

1.  When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?

It is common to shake hands when greeting. The common Shona greetings are “mamuka sei” (good morning), “maskati” (good afternoon), and “manheru” (good evening). A common Ndebele greeting is “sani bonani” (hello).

2. What languages are spoken in the country?

Zimbabwe has 16 official languages. English is the main language used in the education and judiciary systems. Shona and Sindebele are the principal indigenous languages of Zimbabwe. Shona is spoken by 70% of the population, Sindebele by 20%. Other minority languages include Venda, Tsonga, Shangaan, Kalanga, Sotho, Ndau, and Nambya.

3. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?

We use a 24-hour system.

4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in the country?

We drive on the left side of road. There are roughly 88,000 km of classified roads in Zimbabwe, and around 1/4 of them are paved.

5. How important is punctuality?

Punctuality is an important part of Zimbabwean culture.

6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of the most popular musicians?

Zimbabwean music includes folk and pop styles. Much of the folk music incorporates mbira, Ngoma drums and hosho. Music has played a significant role in the history of Zimbabwe, from a vital role in the traditional Bira ceremony used to call on ancestral spirits, to protest songs during the struggle for independence.

The mbira is an integral part of Zimbabwean music. It is frequently played in a deze (calabash resonator) which amplifies the sound and augments using shells or bottle caps placed around the edges. The mbira plays a central role in the traditional Bira ceremony used to call on ancestral spirits.

Afro Jazz is a term used for Zimbabwean music influenced by a style of township rhythm that evolved in a Southern part of Africa over the last century. The Ndebele-dominated region of the southwest of Zimbabwe, including the city Bulawayo, has been instrumental in the development of Zimbabwean music. Seminal 1950s guitarist George Sibanda had a following across Africa, and Dorothy Masuka was a major player on the South African jazz scene, for example.

For a taste of Zimbabwean music, listen to Lovemore Majaivana’s Umoya Wami, and Simon Chimbetu’s Saina.

7. Are there any Traditional Dances?

Dancing in Zimbabwe is an important aspect of the Zimbabwean culture, tradition, spirituality and history. There are many dances that reflect the culture of the people, although the dances may have changed throughout the years. Ethnic diversity is also a key factor in influencing the dances of the Zimbabwean culture. Dances may be performed for enjoyment or entertainment, during many rituals including spirit possession, to re-create history, and as an art form. Mbira dance is a characteristic, traditional ritual dance, accompanied by the mbira instrument. It is designed for specific occasions, usually religious in nature, and it is used to express the people.

Watch some examples of traditional local dance here.

8.  What traditional Festivals are celebrated in the country?

Harare International Festival of Arts (HIFA)
April is a busy month for Harare, at least festival-wise. April 15 to 16 marks the annual Jazz Festival. Famous African musicians take to the stage and there are workshops for budding talent. All of the proceeds go to charity and many students are given free entry.

Harare Jazz Festival
STRAB is the abbreviation for the Subterranean Rhythm & Blues experience, an annual music festival which started out as live entertainment for a birthday bash held by a group of scuba divers in 2003. It has grown over the years and now features about 20 live bands. Since 2008 STRAB has continued to provide exposure to bands from rock to blues to jazz to fusions of these.

Bulawayo Music Festival
Presented by the Zimbabwe Academy of Music, the Bulawayo Music Festival is held every two years from May 23-27. Playing host to a wide range of genres including classical, pop, jazz, and gospel, the festival is one of best musical showcases in the country. There are a variety of concerts by both international and Zimbabwean acts, but also informative workshops for festival-goers to attend.

Zimbabwe International Book Fair
Bookworms will be pleased to know that Harare hosts a topnotch literary event. The Zimbabwe International Book Fair, which takes place every July, is a celebration of the word in Zimbabwe. Nearly 100 publishers take part in the occasion, which is held at Harare Gardens. There is also a great program of talks and workshops by renowned authors for the general public to enjoy.

Zimbabwe International Film Festival
Held in Harare annually every August, the Zimbabwe International Film Festival spans 10 days and showcases the best feature films, shorts, and documentaries the region and abroad have to offer. It also hosts workshops, which are open to all attendees. The event is a non-political, not for profit initiative which aims to develop a network of creative individuals in the region.

Harare International Food Festival
Visitors who are lucky enough to visit in November should make a stop at the Harare International Food Festival. Still in its early years, the event is making an impact on the foodie and gourmet scene. Showcasing everything from international cuisine to regional wine, this festival brings together the best cuisine and chefs from around Zimbabwe and overseas to taste everything from wine and whiskey to paté and pasta, and you are sure to leave full.

Jikinya Traditional Dance Festival
Last but definitely not least, the Jikinya Traditional Dance Festival is one of the only events which celebrates traditional cultures in the country. Held annually in November by the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, the festival brings together primary school children from around the country who perform a variety of indigenous dance numbers. The finale is usually hosted in either Harare or Bulawayo.

9. What are the seasons like?

Zimbabwe has a tropical climate with many local variations. The southern areas are known for their heat and aridity, parts of the central plateau receive frost in winter, the Zambezi valley is also known for its extreme heat and the Eastern Highlands usually experience cool temperatures and the highest rainfall in the country. The country’s rainy season generally runs from late October to March and the hot climate is moderated by increasing altitude. Zimbabwe is faced with recurring droughts, the latest one commencing early in 2015 and ongoing into 2016. Severe storms are rare.

10. What are some interesting facts about the President?

President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa has served as Zimbabwe’s third President since November 2017. Mnangagwa was born in 1942 in Shabani, Southern Rhodesia, to a large Shona family. His parents were farmers, and in the 1950s he had to move with his family to Northern Rhodesia because of his father’s political activism. Hestudied law at the University of Zambia and later at the University of London, and practiced as an attorney.

Mnangagwa is nicknamed ‘Garwe’ or ‘Ngwena’, which means ‘the crocodile’ in the Shona language, initially because that was the name of the guerrilla group he founded, but later because of his political shrewdness. The faction within ZANU-PF that supports him is called Lacoste after the French clothing company whose logo is a crocodile.

He is married to Auxillia Mnangagwa, and has nine children.

11. What are the country’s major industries?

Minerals, gold, and agriculture are the main foreign exports of Zimbabwe. Tourism also plays a key role in its economy. The mining sector remains very lucrative, with some of the world’s largest platinum reserves being mined by Anglo American plc and Impala Platinum.

Zimbabwe has several major tourist attractions. Victoria Falls on the Zambezi, which are shared with Zambia, are located in the north west of Zimbabwe. The Eastern Highlands are a series of mountainous areas near the border with Mozambique. The highest peak in Zimbabwe, Mount Nyangani at 2,593 m (8,507 ft) is located here as well as the Bvumba Mountains and the Nyanga National Park.

12. How do people spend their free time?

Locals spend their free time finding new restaurants and bars, taking part in sports with family and friends, and exploring Zimbabwe’s many hiking and game trails.

13. What is a popular local drink?

Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink in Zimbabwe. Whawha is a traditional maize beer, however Zambezi is Zimbabwe’s national beer. Other major beers include Bohlingers, Lion, Eagle and South African Carling Black Label and Castle. Imported wine, spirits and liqueurs are available in hotel bars. Mazoe Orange drink is a favourite drink, and is unique because it is all fruit and no chemicals.

14. What is a popular local dish?

“Mealie meal”, or cornmeal as it is known in other parts of the world, is used to prepare bota, a porridge made by mixing cornmeal with water, to make a thick paste. This is usually flavored with butter or peanut butter. Bota is usually eaten for breakfast. Cornmeal is also used to make sadza, which is usually eaten for dinner, and by many for lunch too. The process of making sadza is similar to bota, however after the paste has been cooking for several minutes, more cornmeal is added to thicken the paste until it is hard. This meal is usually served with vegetables (spinach, chomolia, or spring greens/collard greens), beans, and meat (stewed, grilled, roasted, or sundried). Sadza is also commonly eaten with boerewors (a sausage made from beef or pork), chicken, or curdled milk (sour milk), commonly known as “lacto” (mukaka wakakora). Rice and chicken with coleslaw salad is often served as the main meal.

15. What do you pay, on average, for the following? (1 USD = approx. ZAR 14)

In place of the Zimbabwean dollar, which was demonetized in 2015, currencies including the South African rand, Botswana pula, pound sterling, Indian rupee, euro, Japanese yen, Australian dollar, Chinese yuan, and the United States dollar are now regularly used.

3 Course meal: ZAR 300
Domestic beer (500ml): ZAR 20
Cup of coffee: ZAR 36
Coca cola (330ml): ZAR 12
Milk (1l): ZAR 20
Loaf of white bread: ZAR 14
Apples (1 kg): ZAR 44
Water (1.5l): ZAR 20

16. Any general safety tips?

Zimbabwe is a relatively safe destination, however petty crimes are a reality. As such, it is advisable not to wear expensive jewelry when walking around, not to leave valuables in view of passers-by in your car, to always lock your car when you leave it, and to walk in groups at night, if possible.

17. In conclusion, famous (and sometimes infamous) people from the country include:

  • Canaan Banana, was a Zimbabwean Methodist minister, theologian, and politician who served as the first President of Zimbabwe from 1980-87. He was Zimbabwe’s first head of state after the Lancaster House Agreement that led to the country’s independence.
  • Cara Black, a professional tennis player from Zimbabwe. She is primarily a doubles specialist, winning 60 WTA and 11 ITF titles in that discipline. A former no. 1 ranked women’s doubles player in the WTA Rankings, she has won ten Grand Slam titles in women’s doubles and mixed doubles combined.
  • Strive Masiyiwa, a Zimbabwean businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the founder and executive chairman of diversified international Telecommunications, Media and Technology group Econet Wireless and Econet Media (Kwesé).

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3]. Image sources:  [1].

Ruling ZANU-PF Wins Majority in Zimbabwean Election

Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party has won the majority of seats in Parliament after sweeping rural constituencies by huge margins, official results showed on Wednesday, setting the stage for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission results showed Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF cruising to a big majority after picking up 109 seats against 41 for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Another 58 seats are yet to be declared.

Nelson Chamisa, of the MDC, and Mnangagwa, of ZANU-PF, were the main contenders in Monday’s vote, the first since former President Robert Mugabe was forced to resign after a de facto coup in November, after nearly 40 years in power.

The House of Assembly of Parliament has 210 seats and Zanu-PF would need to win 30 more to have a two-thirds majority that would allow it to change the constitution at will.
 
Voters in Zimbabwe pick a presidential candidate based on their party affiliation and the trend in the parliamentary election was expected to continue when results for the president are announced this week.
 
The opposition MDC, led by Nelson Chamisa, won in most urban centres, where it enjoys majority support. The MDC accused the election commission on Tuesday of deliberately delaying results of this week’s vote to favour the ruling party, reporting irregularities in the poll. Results of the presidential poll are expected by Saturday.
On Wednesday, foreign observers, who were barred from attending elections in Zimbabwe for almost two decades, including the European Union and SADC, issued verdicts yesterday, noting “misuse of state resources, instances of coercion and intimidation, partisan behavior by traditional leaders and overt bias in state media”, and urging the Zimbabwean government to allow the country’s diaspora to vote in future elections, as they are currently not allowed to do so.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4]. Image sources: [1].

Zimbabwean President’s First State Visit to China

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa was due to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday as he seeks economic support from a major partner that previously backed his ousted predecessor Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa, who received military training in China when he was a young liberation fighter decades ago, will be greeted by Xi at the colossal Great Hall of the People for his first state visit to Beijing since taking power.

Mnangagwa took office in November after a military takeover ended Mugabe’s 37-year reign, though he has also been accused of playing a key role in his mentor’s authoritarian regime that left the economy in ruins and under sanctions.

In an interview with China’s Xinhua state news service, Mnangagwa said his trip was to “say thank you not only to the president of China but also the people of China for standing and supporting Zimbabwe during the hard times when the West imposed sanctions on us.”

He will also seek to sell Zimbabwe as a destination for Chinese investment, he said, adding that he would participate in economic forums aimed at attracting business to the country.

“It’s an issue of leapfrogging after 18 years of isolation so that we catch up with the rest of the developing countries.”

Mnangagwa has firsthand experience of sanctions: he was targeted by EU and US measures imposed on Mugabe and his close allies over violence and intimidation surrounding Zimbabwe’s 2008 presidential campaign.

But Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa from his job as vice president in November over a succession tussle with the first lady, Grace Mugabe, setting off a crisis that led to the veteran president’s ouster.

The visit comes as China takes a more proactive role in Africa, where it has long invested in infrastructure projects and sought resources, but has recently built its first military base in Djibouti.

Beijing also is believed to be taking a more active role in Zimbabwe’s politics.

The country’s then army chief, General Constantino Chiwenga, visited Beijing shortly before Mugabe’s November ouster, leading to questions about whether Beijing had any role in the power transition.

China denied it played any part in the military takeover.

Beijing had long been one of Mugabe’s most powerful allies and a major trade partner, as the West shunned him over his government’s human rights violations, but it avoided taking sides during his ouster.

Chiwenga was named vice president in December.

Relations between the two countries date back to the liberation struggle of the 1960s, when Beijing provided arms and trained some of the top guerrilla leaders, including President Mnangagwa.

 

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Sources: TimesLIVE [1]. Image sources: [1].