MIDLANDS Provincial Affairs minister, Larry Mavima on Tuesday came face-to-face with the struggles faced by ordinary citizens who spend days at the Registrar-General’s offices in a bid to acquire travel documents.
BY BRENNA MATENDERE
Mavima made an impromptu visit to the RG’s offices in Gweru after noticing the crowds that spend the day at the building, while others sleep in the open at the complex.
The RG’s offices are housed in the same building as the minister’s office.
“I was very disappointed with what I saw. Some villagers from far areas like Mberengwa, Gokwe and Lower Gweru actually told me that they sleep outside the offices for days without getting their travel documents,” Mavima said after the visit.
“They complained that the pace at which the queues move is slow and sometimes time lapses with no one being served.”
He urged officials at the offices to change their attitude.
“In this new dispensation, we do not allow such things to happen because we want our people to be served timeously when they seek services at public institutions. It is, therefore, my call that things must change at the Registrar’s Offices,” he said.
People who spoke to Southern Eye said they are forced to sleep outside the building because they cannot afford to travel back and forth from their villages.
“It’s very expensive for me to travel from Mataga in Mberengwa as I try to process my passport. If I fail to get the service, I am forced to sleep outside here and bear the brunt of the bad weather and other risks,” Nomore Gatuza said.
Others said efforts to get emergency travel documents failed as the passports usually come out late.
“I have my young brother who wanted to travel for a funeral in South Africa and applied for an emergency passport. He was only issued with the document after his in-law had already been buried. It’s very frustrating,” another villager who was queuing for his own travel document, said.
Abiot Maronge, the Midlands provincial administrator was not available for comment.
However, officials at the offices who spoke on condition of anonymity said the process at the passport offices was now being done online and so sometimes there are technical glitches which slowed things down.
Registrar-General Clemence Masango recently told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs that his department had a backlog of 170 000 passports, which had accumulated since May, and requires foreign currency to import consumables and ink for the documents.
He said 700 applications are processed daily, but forex shortages meant applicants now have to wait for six months to get the travel document.