By Auther Chimbgwa
Late former President Robert Mugabe’s son, Bellarmine Chatunga has accused the Emmerson Mnangagwa led government of robbery after the latter decreed the current generation of passports are set to expire in just two years with locals expected to switch to the new e-passport in between.
“So Zimbabwe gvt after about 5 months of stealing USD318 from thousands of citizens who were applying for a passport everyday only for the gvt to say those passports will be invalid in 2 years time. Are we witnessing the biggest money heist to ever happen?” said the most outspoken of the Mugabe siblings via Twitter Tuesday.
So Zimbabwe gvt after about 5 months of stealing USD318 from thousands of citizens who were applying for a passport everyday only for the gvt to say those passports will be invalid in 2 years time. Are we witnessing the biggest money heist to ever happen ?
— CHATUNGA (@bellagushaz) December 14, 2021HORIZONTAL
While the launch of the e-passport is a positive step towards technological advancement in the country, a lot of Zimbabweans who recently obtained the precious travel document also felt discontented they have to dump the document in just two years and migrate to the new innovation.
This follows a government pronouncement the traditional passport expires in December 2023.
Speaking in separate interviews with Zimstar News Tuesday, most people were not happy they will have to go through the process of applying for the document again.
“I took my passport last year and hoped that it would expire in 2030. It is disheartening to note that it is now going to expire in 2023,” said Joshua Timbai, a Harare resident.
An Electronic passport, launched in Harare Tuesday by Mnangagwa, is an enhanced version of the traditional passport. The main difference is the inclusion of a chip or Integrated Circuit (IC).
Another resident who spoke on conditions of anonymity accused the government of attempts to fleece citizens of their hard-earned money.
“I got my passport this year, and to envisage that it would have expired in two years’ time is daylight robbery. I anticipated my passport to expire in 2031,” he said.
Former adviser to the Prime Minister and prolific blogger Alex Magaisa was among those felt robbed by the government decision.
“But I’m aggrieved because I recently paid a bit for a new passport. Now I must pay for another!” said via his Twitter handle Tuesday.
But I’m aggrieved because I recently paid a bit for a new passport. Now I must pay for another!
— Alex T Magaisa 🇿🇼 (@Wamagaisa) December 14, 2021
Some locals begged government to allow the traditional passport taken in recent years to continue in use until its expiry date saying this will save them money.
The normal e-passport is expected to cost US$100 while the emergency one will cost US$200, according to information from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The application of a Zimbabwean passport comes with a lot of nightmares as one has to endure long queues and an endless wait for the precious document to come out.
The process is often littered with payment of bribery among corrupt officials and those desperate to secure the document faster.
Government has been toiling to clear a passport application backlog that went up to hundreds of thousands in the past couple of years as the country struggled to secure the necessary consumables to print the scarce document.