Lupane passport office under probe

By NQOBANI NDLOVU

GOVERNMENT has ordered a probe into issuance of passports at the Lupane registry office in Matabeleland North province following reports of underhand dealings and alleged victimisation of whistleblowers.

Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe told Southern Eye on Thursday that he ordered the probe after receiving complaints from some junior officers, who claimed harassment by their superiors for daring to expose the vice.

The junior officers claimed passport applicants were being made to bribe their way to get the travel document.

“You can neither confirm nor deny (the allegations) until you investigate, but yes, I have received a couple of letters. I don’t throw away the letters because information is power, I always make a follow-up. It is a matter under investigation,” Kazembe said.

“We have a couple of letters that I have sent to the (Home Affairs) permanent secretary to investigate. Dealing with corruption is a collective responsibility of everyone and, as such, we would want the informers to also come forward with more information. We will conceal their identities, even an anonymous call will help as we need that information,” Kazembe added.

Some of the junior staffers said they were recently suspended or transferred from Lupane by the provincial registrar Willard Sayenda, to ostensibly conceal the alleged illicit dealings.

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But Sayenda refused to comment over the matter, saying it was confidential.

In one of the letters addressed to the Registrar-General Clemence Masango, the disgruntled workers said the alleged scam involved everyone, “including the head”.

“We would pay a tollgate fee to our boss (Sayenda) and we would do our passport applications (sic) as many as we want without even restrictions of the daily limited application which you had put,” the letter read.

“Lupane had few applicants and we had to heavily rely on Bulawayo clients who could not come to Lupane. We would take their fingerprints from Bulawayo, which is not procedural, but just an act of unlawful practice.”

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