There was an influx of people at the Registrar General’s Offices in Bulawayo, Monday, who responded to media reports claiming that applications submitted before February 2019 had been processed came out and the travelling documents were ready for collection.
The government moved to dispel a social media post and story run in the state media that the citizens who had applied for passports in 2019 period up to February 2020 can go collect their passports at regional offices from March 15.
Zimbabwe is battling to clear a backlog of about 200,000 passports due to shortage of foreign currency to import required consumables.
Due to the huge turnout, police officers were deployed to maintain peace and order.
There was a long winding queue, which in the morning had reached the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) western region offices.
People were constantly going to the security officials manning the entrance, inquiring if their passports, which they applied for after February 2019 were out, only to be turned back.
“I will get the correct information when I am allowed inside, otherwise the officials may also be the ones playing games with us,” said one applicant who was in the queue.
Other applicants said they were waiting for tokens from registry officials to enter the premises in order to be served.
When reached for a comment, Bulawayo Provincial Registrar Jane Peters, via her secretary, said she was not in a position to respond to questions.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage issued a statement in response to the fake Facebook page and the false communication on passport collection.
“The Civil Registry Department is working round the clock to clear the passport backlog and any communication regarding the collection of passports by applicants will be communicated via official communication channels and through the short message service platform.”
The Home Affairs ministry said all collections would be done in compliance with the relevant Covid-19 regulations and also advised applicants that the Civil Registry Department did not charge any extra amount or solicit for any favours outside the stipulated statutory fees.
“Any persons or agents canvassing for any processing fees via online platforms are doing so for their own criminal and corrupt gains. We urge our citizens to rely on official sources of credible information and exercise caution before sharing unverified communication on social media platforms, which not only mislead but potentially prejudice citizens of their hard-earned cash,” said the Civil Registry Department.