- Parliament told that some of the desperate passport seekers have had to sleep out on the pavements awaiting their documents, and police had arrested them for breaking the current curfew rules.
ZIMBABWEAN nationals living and working in the diaspora have been struggling to renew their passports and sleeping on pavements at the Passport Office even after paying the US$318 for a 24-hour passport.
The revelations were made in Parliament yesterday by MDC-T legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, who demanded that Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe be dragged before Parliament to explain to the nation why the Passport Office was failing to issue the documents even after collecting the fees in foreign currency.
Government last week increased passport fees and said those applying for the travel document will pay in United States dollars to mobilise enough resources to clear the 256 000 backlog.
“We have noted in the last few weeks that the Passport Office is unable to deal with issues around the issuance of passports,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga told Parliament Speaker Jacob Mudenda.
“What is more concerning is the fact that as I speak to you right now, there are people particularly, coming from the diaspora, South Africa in specific terms who have permits and are supposed to be going back to work.
“Government has indicated that those would be given priority and they are being charged US$318 per passport but they still cannot get those passports.
“Some would go and do the applications in Bulawayo but they are being asked to come to Harare and they are being moved from pillar to post.”
She said some of the desperate passport seekers have had to sleep out on the pavements awaiting their documents, and police had arrested them for breaking the current curfew rules.
“We had a situation in the last two days where many of them were arrested for breaking the curfew because many of them have to sleep at the Passport Office. I will therefore, request that we have the Minister of Home Affairs coming to the House as a matter of urgency to issue a ministerial statement and indicate to us what they are doing around these issues of passports because it is not sustainable.
“We cannot have people being treated in the manner that people are being treated at the passport office,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.
Modena noted that the matter raised by Misihairabwi-Mushonga was urgent but said a ministerial statement might take another two weeks to obtain from Kazembe. He advised the legislator to use this Wednesday’s question and answer session to raise her issue with Kazembe.
Cabinet last week reviewed ordinary passport fees to US$60, and $200 for a three-day passport issuance, pegged at the average US$:ZW$ exchange rate. An emergency 24-hour passport remains pegged at a cost of US$318. E-passport fees are pegged at US$80.
Government also assured the public that passports issuance services will run uninterrupted until the backlog is cleared. – Zimbabwe Voice ■