A money-making immigration scheme?
We have just been advised by our children’s school that all non-Zambian children in Zambia above the age of 7 must hold a Study Permit. As the law-abiding resident I am, I immediately went to the Immigration Department’s website to take a closer look at the relevant form. Here, the applicant, that is my 7-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy, will have to answer questions such as “Will you be living at the educational institution?” and “If the answer is “No”, where will you be living?”… “err, with my mum and dad?”. Further down, my children will answer “How will your tuition, accommodation and boarding expenses be met? (provide documentary evidence)”… “err, by my mum and dad?” Then we get to the serious part: “Have you ever applied for a permit under the Immigration and Deportation Act, 2010 or the Immigration and Deportation Act, Cap. 123?”, “Have you ever been restricted from entering any country or deported or repatriated from any country?” and “Have you been convicted of an offence under any law within or outside Zambia?” Finally, my children have to sign a declaration: “I hereby declare that the information furnished by me in this application is true, correct and complete to the best of my knowledge. I understand that any incorrect, misleading or untrue information or the withholding of any relevant information may affect the issuance of a study permit or shall result in the revocation of the permit”. Note that the form has no provision for being filled in – or signed – by a guardian, but I guess my children can simply print their names, that is, if they manage to spell their way through the form. Clearly, the Study Permit was never meant to apply to children as young as 7 years, but to older students from abroad studying in Zambia on more independent terms. I am confused, because does this mean the legal age for a child in Zambia is 7 years?
Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly