The Zimbabwean government is set to introduce an online passport application system as a way of curbing corruption at the Registrar General’ office.
The plan was revealed by the Minister of Home Affairs, Kazembe Kazembe, during the official opening of Zimbabwe’s first district passport office at Chitungwiza municipality’s headquarters. He said:
We are in the process of coming up with an integrated information communication technology (ICT) solution which will not just bring these physical structures to your doorsteps, but bring the actual service to homes through online services.
Ideally, the passport application process in its entirety should be done within the confines of our homes.
You see these people clapping – they are crying. People are being swindled at passport offices. Corruption must come to an end. When people come to our offices, please let’s serve them with the dignity they deserve. Two or three should be arrested to set an example.
Passports seekers who spoke to NewsDay decried the corruption at passport offices and expressed hope that the newly-opened office would operate transparently.
One passport seeker, Phyllis Vambe said it’s painful for one to sleep in a queue at the offices and when the authorities come in the morning “you will be surprised that you will be number 130.”
Vambe claimed that some passport seekers are asked to pay bribes of US$20 to join or skip the queue.
These sentiments were echoed by a South Africa-based Chitungwiza resident, Loveness Mugadza, who said in addition to the official fee US$318, officials outside the premises demand US$20 and whilst inside, passport seekers are asked to pay another US$100 to be served.
Last year, an official at the passport office told reporters that they can help passport seekers get the travelling document as quickly as possible as long as they had the money.
Zimbabwe has a huge passport backlog due to an acute shortage of machinery and consumables.