Zimbos lose job, study and health opportunities as passports remain scarce

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By Anna Chibamu

Zimbabweans wishing to travel abroad for employment, study, business or health related reasons may have to wait a little longer as government keeps on making many unfulfilled promises on the issuance of new copies of the now scarce travelling document.

Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo Thursday told the national broadcaster that the passport situation will normalise in four weeks’ time.

“In less than four weeks, the situation will normalise. The issue of passports has already been dealt with long back,” Moyo said.

A visit to the passport office in Harare by Thursday saw a few people at the Registrar General’s office applying for passports but only the ordinary passport applications for RTGS$53 were being made.

Kurenje Mashonganyika, a father who has been desperately trying to secure a passport for his daughter set to study abroad said he was sceptical about ever getting the document in time for the young woman to leave.

“The problem comes when one needs to travel abroad,” he said.

“In my case, I have a daughter who graduated and needs to further her studies in South Africa but now this delay in passport issuance will affect her.

“The officials have told me they are processing only 100 passports per day.”

The young woman is not the only one finding herself in that situation.

Many more Zimbabweans have lost studying and job opportunities abroad while some with more complicated health conditions cannot travel either for specialist treatment outside because they have failed to secure passports.

Another applicant, Tapiwa Mapeza said applying for a passport is now smoother although he was equally not very confident he will ever get the document on time to travel.

“The application process is going on smoothly. Only 30 minutes, one would have been served; no queues at all but we do not know if this is as a result of the shortages or not.

“We do not know when we are going to have the passports. We were told two weeks ago that production would increase.

“The situation is very critical considering that some people have lost lives, jobs and schooling opportunities. Right now there is no hope at all. The officials are not even sure of how soon we can get these passports.”

Tafadzwa Nyandoro, who specialises in passport photo production just outside the main passport offices in Harare, said the continued scarcity of the valuable document has affected his business significantly as his customer base has shrunk since the problem began.

Outside his own business interests, Nyandoro said some people were now being forced to part with more than US$200 each to secure passports through corrupt means.