Passports crisis haunts Diasporans

BY XOLISANI NCUBE

Thousands of Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora are stranded with some risking deportation or losing their jobs due to difficulties in renewing their passports with President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday ordering responsible authorities to find a quick solution to fix the crisis.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa told a Press briefing last night that Cabinet was worried about the prolonged crisis which has affected citizens living in the country and those in the diaspora who were failing to obtain passports and other identity documents.

Mutsvangwa said due to the urgency of the crisis, Cabinet has directed that production of at least 3 000 passports a day commences within the next three to
four weeks amid indications that some in the diaspora were now at risk of losing their jobs.

“On the basis of this, therefore, we wish to advise the nation that work towards the return to normalcy in the production of the Zimbabwean passport is now at
an advanced stage. All the necessary capital equipment is now in place, while payment has already been made for the associated consumables,” Mutsvangwa said.

The country has been battling to provide the travel documents due to a misunderstanding between government and an Israeli company, Nikuv, which has a contract
to print passports on behalf of the Registrar-General’s Office.

The company stopped production to force the government to settle its huge debt.

Mnangagwa then announced that Fidelity Printers, a government-owned entity, would take over the printing of passports. Due to the crisis, desperate Zimbabweans
were being forced to fork out as much as US$400 in bribes to get the passports.

According to information at hand, only 30 passports were being processed a day while those wishing to get emergency travel documents have to wait for more than
10 months.

Zimbabweans living in the diaspora whose passports have expired were reportedly failing to get visas and work permits renewed by their host countries and many of them risked deportation as well as losing their jobs.

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