Corona virus pandemic, and the subsequent restrictions: The journey since March 2020

The booking system was designed to ensure predictable and smooth service in a safe, fair and transparent manner

 

 

By Melody Chaurura

 

The CORONAVIRUS/ COVID 19 pandemic and the subsequent containment measures imposed since March 2020 have not only affected South Africa’s business landscape, but the Zimbabwe Consulate’s operations as well.

The new environment has compelled the Consulate to radically change its way of doing business – in relation to both routine consular tasks, and other strategic engagements.

The focus has been on finding practical solutions which are in compliance with COVID 19 health and safety protocols as directed by the Government of South Africa while at the same time ensuring continued smooth provision of Consular services to Zimbabwean nationals resident in the country.

Consular Services Since August 2020

It should be recalled that the Consulate was closed for normal operations between 27 March and 21 August 2020 as directed by the South African Government under Lockdown Alert Levels 3, 4 and 5.
Gradual services were only resumed under Lockdown Alert Level 2, on 24 August 2020.

Regrettably, the closure did not eliminate the demand for consular services amongst our nationals; rather, it held the demand in abeyance, resulting in a five-month backlog for services, especially passport and birth certificate applications.

It is this huge backlog that the Consulate is currently battling to contain and clear.

It was against this background that the Consulate was compelled to introduce an appointment system, premised on a first-come-first-served basis, specifically for those wishing to access birth certificate and passport application services.

Other routine services, including; Temporary Travel Documents (TTD), cancellation of passports, verification/authentication of documents are still be provided on walk-in basis – every weekday between 0900hrs and 1130hrs.

The booking system

The booking system was designed to ensure predictable and smooth service in a safe, fair and transparent manner.

Since the inception of the appointment system, the Consulate has gradually increased the number of appointment slots from 75 per day in August 2020 to 600 slots under Lockdown Alert level 1 in December 2020.

However, on 28 December 2020 upon the announcement of the current Adjusted Alert Level 3 by the South African Government, the Consulate was forced reduce the number of appointments from 600 to 300 per day as per the outlined Covid-19 health and safety protocols.

As a result, all the appointments which had been scheduled for the period stretching from Monday, 4 January to Friday, 26 March 2021 were suspended with immediate effect.

All the clients who had confirmed bookings within the affected period are currently being gradually rescheduled via the emails addresses which were used to book the original appointment.

The Consulate therefore strongly encourages affected individuals to constantly check their emails for new appointment dates and time.

Having been forced to reschedule the old appointments, the Consulate was left with no option, except to suspend new bookings in order to create space for the existing deferred appointments.

Consequently, the booking system will only be reopened once the existing appointments have been cleared. An official public notice will be issued to this effect.

Useful information

It has come to the attention of the Consulate that there are adverts circulating on various social media platforms, originated by unknown scammers/fraudsters claiming to offer booking services for Consulate appointments at varying fees.

The Consulate wishes to once again, disassociate itself from the malicious contents of these adverts and to strongly encourage our nationals to dismiss the same as pure scam aimed at duping innocent and unsuspecting members of the public of their hard earned money.

The Consulate wishes to reiterate the following position:

 Registration for Consulate appointments will always be free of charge.
 The appointment system remains highly centralised. As such, no admissions can be made outside the set structure and procedure.
 Once we resume new appointments, clients should use the booking link on our website, www.zimbabweconsulate.co.za and Facebook page: Zimbabweconsulate Boeing Road
Bedfordview).
 Consular access/advice is free of charge.
 Payments are reserved only for services provided.
 The Zimbabwe Embassy in Pretoria and the two Consulates, namely: Consulate of Zimbabwe in Johannesburg and Consulate of Zimbabwe in Cape Town, do not have agents in South Africa who act on their behalf.

The Consulate undertakes to continue monitoring and reviewing the system with a view to continuously improve service and protect our clients from scammers and fraudsters.

Special appreciation

The Consulate remains thankful for the overwhelming support and understanding exhibited by the generality of Zimbabwean nationals resident in South Africa during the COVID 19 induced operational huddles. We all hold on to the conviction that things will get better soon as each individual plays their part.

Special notice

We continue to urge all Zimbabwean nationals resident in South Africa to desist from following unverified sources of information on the Consulate’s operations.

Whenever in doubt, especially when payment is required, members of the public are strongly encouraged to verify the authenticity of information using our official channels:

 Facebook page: Zimbabweconsulate Boeing Road Bedfordview
 Twitter: Zimbabweconsulatejhb
 WhatApp: +27 82 82 494 35
 Email: admin@zimbabweconsulate.co.za

 

Melody Chaurura is Zimbabwe Consul – General in Johannesburg. This article is published in collaboration with the Digital Sunday Express online newspaper. See News Differently

 

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