Zimbabwe: Suspension of passports

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The Zimbabwean Government has suspended processing of passports until after the election because of a lack of funds. However,it is suspected that the money has been diverted to import maize for vote buying by Zanu PF.

from our correspondent in Harare

Staff at various passport offices countrywide say that the office, which
stopped the processing of new ordinary passports last year, has now extended the “temporary” suspension.

Also,the Registrar-General’s office has failed to catch up with a serious
backlog of people awaiting new passports, despite the Registrar-General, Tobaiwa Mudede, promising speedy processing of the documents last year.

Temporary suspension since 2006

When announcing the “temporary” suspension of new applications, Mudede said his office would first deal with outstanding applications.

At the Bulawayo, Gwanda office, however, only passports applied for in January 2006 are ready for collection.

Normally, a Zimbabwean passport should take six months from the receipt of the application.


Some workers at the passport collection counter have used this as an opportunity to make money by charging foreign currency for delivering documents to those waiting for them.

“I was charged R300 for my document to come through, by a member of staff who claimed to be bringing it from Harare, but it later turned out that the document was already here and the member just wanted my money, as they are reluctant to release the passports for free,” said Chris Dube.

Demand for passports and ETDs has been growing as more Zimbabweans leave their country to seek better conditions elsewhere.

Some have even abandoned the length and bureaucratic process and cross the border into South Africa and Botswana illegally.

Others simply overstay their permitted time rather than apply for documents.

Per day close to 3000 border jumpers are deported from South Africa and Botswana but they with a day or so they find their way back.

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