TTDs nightmare in Bulawayo

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The Bulawayo passport office has become congested with hundreds of people, mostly cross-border traders, battling to get passports after South African immigration authorities rejected Zimbabwe’s temporary travel document (TTD) which they have described as insecure.

NewsDay visited the Bulawayo passport office this week and spoke to mostly cross-border traders who complained that the new development would virtually kill their only source of livelihood.

“Ever since we were blocked from entering South Africa because of this TTD confusion, I have lost a lot of business and l am extremely frustrated because it does not seem like the authorities are doing anything about it,” said Nokuthula Lunga.

Mercy Chikomo, another cross-border trader said besides losing business, she had used so much money to acquire the TTD and that she would soon be pumping out more for a passport.

“I am now trying to get a passport after I had already paid for the TTD that did not materialise. Now I have to fork out more money,” said Mercy.

A temporary travel document costs $38, while a passport which takes two-weeks to process costs $170.

Hundreds of Zimbabweans holding the travel document were being turned away by South-African immigration officials at Beitbridge Border Post.

South Africa’s home affairs department started turning away travellers that were in possession of the TTDs last month, insisting that as a matter of protocol, they needed to see a specimen of the new document first.

Only those with emergency travelling documents (ETDs) valid for 21 days were being allowed entry into South Africa. But the ETD has since been phased out.

Passengers travelling to South Africa by air using the same TTDs were however not affected. Botswana and Zambia had accepted the new travel document.

Two weeks ago, Home Affairs co-Minister Kembo Mohadi urged stranded Zimbabweans using the new TTD to return home as South African immigration officials remained adamant about not accepting the document.

Government introduced the TTDs on April 14, which are valid for six months, after fake ETDs were discovered at border posts.