In a shocking development, the Registrar General’s Office has created a waiting list for emergency passport applicants thus defeating the whole purpose of ‘emergency’ request.
Emergency passports applicants include those seeking urgent medical attention, students, urgent business meetings or any other business that an individual deems emergency.
The development at the passport office is owing to shortage of printing material including paper and ink.
In February, Registrar General Clemence Masango hinted on the imminent shortage and the timelines of his prediction were spot on.
“For the urgent passports, the clients are able to pay, but the resources are very limited and if we continue to produce them at the rate at which we are doing, then within two months we will run out of paper and so we have to scale down,we only have two months left before we run out of material,” Masango told Parliament then.
He cited that the Reserve Bank Of Zimbabwe’s foreign currency allocation to them was not sufficient to buy enough material.
This reporter visited the Passport Office on Wednesday and long winding queues could be observed.
One official at the passport office who spoke on condition of anonymity said the situation at the passport office was now critical and required immediate intervention if progress was to be made.
“I don’t want to comment since it’s a situation above my pay grade but situation on the ground is we do not have paper and ink among other things used for printing.
“If you want go outside and see people who are seriously sick and want to go overseas for surgery but cannot get the emergency passports because we do not have the material to print,” he said.
Upon arrival at Makombe building (passport office), there were two RG officials outside the gate seated under a tree writing a long list of people who wanted to apply for emergency passports.
One person who registered for the waiting list was told to come back on April 26 while another elderly woman was referred to May 6 in the presence of this reporter.
Some emergency passport applicants who were interviewed by this publication said they were not expecting to get their passports in the next seven days since the waiting list is too long and there was serious corruption at the passport office.
“Getting your name on the waiting list of applicants is not a problem but the criteria being used to verify the people who are worth for emergency passport makes everything impossible.
“We are told they take 70 applicants per day but it seems as if only 20 are taken in and the officials have their own 50 people who will make it the list to 70 after paying kickbacks.”
“We are just here to apply for the passports but we are not sure if we will get them since there are some people who applied two weeks ago but are yet to get their emergency passports. Imagine you come here because your passport has expired when you pay your money you can’t get what you applied for because the government has no ink.”
Zim Morning post has learnt that the one day passport which was pegged at a cost of RTGS$ 318.00 has since been scrapped off and the passports that are currently being processed are the three day ones which cost RTGS$ 250 and the six weeks which cost RTGS$54 .
Masango could neither confirm nor deny the challenges facing his office but promised to get back to us after a meeting, a promise he failed to keep by the time of going to publication.
— Zim Morning Post