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Zimbabwe’s passport Auschwitz


Beneficiaries of Zanu PF benevolence tend to dismiss such opinions as cruel concoctions by overzealous anti-establishment weirdos. Yet for millions of Zimbabweans encountering disconcerting treatment at Makombe Building — our national passport Office — Germany’s World War II konzentrationslager (concentration camps) Auschwitz is a sensible comparison. Camp commandant Rudolf Höss testified how two million Jews and Poles perished of cyanide-laced gas, starvation, forced labour, infectious disease, individual executions and medical experiments.
You will not find the above, not even refrigerated Güterwagen rail wagons, wooden bunk beds, gas chambers and human skulls at Registrar-General TobaiwaMudede’s “passport camp”, but the pervasive emotional despair, tears, ire, psychological torture, human stench and congestion are Auschwitz-like.

Mudede is probably one of thousands of top civil servants still hanging on to jobs despite being recipients of President Robert Mugabe’s “empowerment goodies”. If farms grabbed from 5 000 white citizens were that “empowering”, why would even judges, permanent secretaries and army generals still be employed? To maintain the umbilical cord of Zanu PF patronage! Mudede is a self-confessed Mugabe crony not just unpopular with progressive citizens for allegedly “fouling” the national voters’ roll, but also habitually blamed by millions of citizens who continue to receive an Auschwitz treatment at Makombe Building.

The Registrar-General is a vital cog in Zanu PF’s electoral deceit matrix. His culpability is that of paying attention to matters political, which has tainted his department’s image and turned passport and voter registration offices into edifices of dismay. Our national Constitution gives us a right to vote and travel freely, but with such constricted access to documentation, these rights are under threat.

There are no Auschwitz kapos (prison camp functionaries) for keeping order at Makombe Building or the sonderkommandos (Nazi death camp prisoners) to prepare “new applicants” for the daily dose of torture, but it’s the long dimly lit corridors and crowded “standing cells” choking with smell of human sweat that depress even the toughest of characters. Children scream, adults jostle for positions as passport officers, like Hess’s guards, stare coldly at prospective applicants, unmoved. As you are shuffled from one “camp office” to another — documents in hand – you meet fellow “victims” cursing and swearing anxiously. If you enquire from someone whether or not you are in the proper queue, they give you a psycho look, eventually nodding their head like a zombie.

No Zyklon B gas or crematorium will ever be found at Makombe Building, but if you are lucky to get to the counter before you choke, the passport officer covers his phone momentarily and admonishes you for pestering him during teatime! Like a man wading through a flooded river, you raise your documents above your head towards the payments office via a multiple-lane stream of human flotsam. As you gasp for stale, foul air to breathe, you just hope that your metal ID card does not slip and fall onto the dusty, dark floor. It will require substantial extractive expertise to retrieve the card from the mass of moving smelly feet!

Six months down the line you hazard a “search and recover mission” for your passport. Once your name is called from the “issued passports book of life”, you rugby-tackle a woman with a small child strapped precariously on her back, inadvertently dousing your designer jacket with ice cream as you stretch your hand for mercy! The “allied passport forces” have touched down and you are now free to travel! Several metres from the main gate teeming with Chipangano-like vendors, you take one sarcastic “Lot’s wife glance” at Mudede’s “passport Auschwitz”, show him an imaginary middle finger and saunter into the early afternoon crowd.

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