Passport seekers besiege Byo, Gwanda offices

Some of the people interviewed by Southern Eye said they needed the document to travel to South Africa where life was difficult without a passport.

HUNDREDS of people are visiting the Bulawayo and Gwanda Civil Registry Offices to apply for passports saying they wish to leave the country after losing hope in Zimbabwe’s political and economic situation.

Some of the people interviewed by Southern Eye said they needed the document to travel to South Africa where life was difficult without a passport.Prospective passport holder Bernard Ndlovu told Southern Eye that he had lost hope of finding employment in Zimbabwe.

“I am failing to get employment here and this has forced me to decide to follow my relatives who are based in South Africa. I do not mind getting any job as long as I will get a living out of it. I was told my passport would be available within a week,” he said.

Human rights group Ibhetshu LikaZulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo attributed the scramble for passports to government’s poor economic policies.“Government officials know that they have run down the economy and soon, it will collapse. Their children are all over the world. The roads are bad and there is no sign to promote investment (sic),” Fuzwayo said.

“The 2024 National Budget announced by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube is anti-people. Everyone, whether they have money or not, want to go because their future is, seemingly, hanging in the balance.”

Gwanda Residents Association chairperson Collet Moyo said it was shocking that most Zimbabweans preferred to sacrifice the little money they have acquiring passports.“We thought that people wanted to beat the deadline regarding the increase in passport fees announced by the government that took effect on January 1, but that is not the case,” Moyo said.

“People are still coming in big numbers to apply for the passports from everywhere in the region. We have seen people from Bulawayo and other areas outside Gwanda.“People would rather spend on passports than on food. This is an indicator to like-minded people that things are not right in the country. People were expecting changed fortunes after voting because in every election, hope is revived that change is going to happen. I think the issue of recalls again is another matter of concern.”

Bulawayo provincial registrar Jane Peters said her office would cope with the surge in passport applications.“I am not aware that there are long queues, they cannot be described as an influx. The queues are manageable. I cannot tell the figures of the number of applications we are processing per day, but we are managing them,” Peters said.

The Civil Registry Department has since extended working hours at all e-passport offices across Zimbabwe in response to the long queues.

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