Crisis is ongoing at the registry offices across the country, with diaspora passports applicants, who are being prioritised for now being told at centres such as Bulawayo to wait until June 7 to try their luck while locals are yet to be entertained.
Having been closed for the greater part of last year as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, the Registrar-General’s Offices opened Monday where only 200 people were considered per station while many other who had spent hours in the snake-winding queues waiting to be served were turned away and advised to return on June 7 when another batch of applicants would be considered.
CITE Tuesday visited Bulawayo registry offices, which are now manned by police officers who were advising applicants who want to submit applications on behalf of their loved ones in the diaspora to try on June 7 and book their dates for submission.
The booking of dates to be attended to has since been also extended to those applying for national identity cards and birth certificates in other areas such as Plumtree, where applicants who are not booked are turned away after having travelled long distances from both Bulilima and Mangwe Districts costing R400. All diaspora applicants are supposed to fork-out US$318 or South African equivalent in order to have their documents processed.
“This reflects badly not only on the government’s inefficiency but also on its lackadaisical approach to public service provision in general,” bemoaned Sipho Nyoni, a Bulawayo resident.
“At best it exemplifies the government’s unwillingness to go the extra mile to provide the most basic of necessities to the common man.”
Nyoni said Zimbabweans working outside the country were being seriously affected by the development as they can no longer do their business in the countries in which they are domiciled.
“Without the most basic of documents like a passport they (Zimbabweans) will be restricted in terms of movement all because of a basic document that shouldn’t really be a problem to get in any functional system.”
Effie Ncube, spokesperson for the National Association of Consumer Rights (NACORA) said it was clear that the government was failing to provide the important service of passports.
“That is contributing to a very serious inconvenience not only to the diasporans but to Zimbabweans who want to travel abroad for many reasons including medical attention, jobs and other things,” said Ncube.
“It’s high time the government opened its offices for all people who want passports and to provide those passports because people are paying for them. It is just laziness, poor service provision, inefficiency and ineffectiveness by the state and it is killing people in a very big way.”
Bongani Mazwi Mkwananzi, spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa called upon the government to move with speed in issuing passports to ensure that holders of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) are not inconvenienced when they expire at the end of this year.
“We have found that we have a government that seems not to care and very unaware of the issues affecting the people,” said Mkwananzi. This is a serious crisis. Imagine, only 200 people have been served and we 165 000 people on the ZEP and the majority of that will find themselves having passports that have expired this year. This needs to be addressed urgently. I think we are at a point where we have to confront each other about this because we don’t understand why the government is sitting on its laurels and not solving such a simple matter.”