Economic crisis pressures passport office

The harsh economic conditions forcing Zimbabweans to migrate to other countries in search of greener pastures are responsible for the long queues at the passport office, Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede has said.

Mudede told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services on Monday, that people should not rush to blame his office for failure to deliver before appreciating reasons behind the high demand for travel documents.

"Zimbabwe is the only country with such a high demand for passports since people were leaving the country for economic reasons," Mudede said, emphasising that people should be concerned about the country's economic crisis.

He said everyone should ask himself why people were leaving the country in such huge numbers.

Despite logistical challenges faced, Mudede said his office produced 2, 000 passports per day.

The RG said the demand for passports soured partly following Botswana's rejection of the Zimbabwe Emergency Travel Documents.

According to Mudede, the situation was worsened by some South Africa employers transporting their Zimbabwean workers back home to acquire official travel documents after crossing the Limpopo illegally.

The RG's department with 206 sub-offices in 10 provinces and 63 districts of the country continued struggling to deliver.

Mudede admitted that had the Parliamentary Committee not pushed for the retention allowance, his department would have ceased to operate long back since government had no money.

Things being normal, Mudede said, an emergency passport could be processed in 30 minutes while the ordinary one would be issued in four weeks or less.

An identification document would be out in 5 minutes.

The Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Melusi Matshiya, told the committee that the long queues at the RG's offices would only be history when construction of the Centre of Registry building is completed.

"More offices would be opened to speed up the processing of documents," Matshiya said.

The centre has been under construction for the past decade and according to Matshiya, $1 million would be needed to complete the project.

To help clear the passport applications backlog, the RG's office was working into evenings seven days of the week.

Fact box

1. An estimated 2-5 million Zimbabweans migrated to South Africa, Botswana, UK and other countries for both economic and political reasons.

2. Since 2000 even woman, children and the elderly not able to work have sought humanitarian assistance outside the country.

3. Most Zimbabweans who migrated to South Africa reside in Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West.

Post published in: News
  1. George Marange

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