After repeated denials and lacklustre responses, the government through its state media has finally come to admit that there is pervasive rot at passport offices. No member of the public is surprised and shocked by this. We and everyone else have always known. It’s not even new.
This has been going on a long time
To prove my point, when I wanted my passport back in 2013 I made several fruitless attempts to apply at the local Harare office. This was an election year and as always there were scores of people looking for a passport as possible insurance.
After several failed attempts I talked to a friend who suggested going to Bindura so I did. Even at Bindura there were still long lines, not as long as Harare lines but still long. It was very clear from talking to people that the majority of the people in those lines had made the journey from Harare.
I ended up paying a bribe to a contact who allowed me to skip all these persky lines and ended up right at the front where my passport application was promptly processed in a matter of minutes. This was back in 2013 when we were using USD and passport applications took three weeks.
Demand outpacing supply is to blame for all this
The reason why passports are so valuable is because the government has consistently failed to provide a passport to everyone who needs one on time. Instead following populist policies such as not adjusting the price of passports so as to give the impression that there was no inflation in Zimbabwe have created this mess.
The government must constantly adjust prices in line with inflation and clear the backlog. That should take care of inflation.
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