Nonsikelelo Moyo, Business Reporter
THE Department of Immigration has deployed 16 officers to three ports of entry in Matabeleland North to replace those who were suspended three months ago on fraud allegations.
However, the deployment has courted the ire of the officers who have accused the department of ambushing them hence lowering morale at ports of entry resulting in long queues as they delay clearing travellers.
The 16 were temporarily moved to Victoria Falls Border Post, Victoria Falls International Airport and Kazungula Border Post in May for a period of two weeks after the suspension of the 19 accused whose cases are still pending.
However, they remained at the stations until last week when it was communicated to them through a memo that they were now permanently stationed in Victoria Falls.
According to a memo dated August 7 and which Business Chronicle is in possession of, the redeployment was with effect from August 1.
“Following the visa scam that was unearthed in the north-western region in April 2017, 19 immigration officers were immediately suspended leading to the institution of disciplinary charges against them.
“The department deployed 19 immigration officers in two groups top fill the gaps created by those on suspension. During deployment it was indicated that the officers might be posted to Victoria Falls on a permanent basis. Officers are now permanently deployed in Victoria Falls as from August 1,” read part of the memo.
The officers were drawn from various ports of entry countrywide.
Only 16 are being permanently deployed while the other three were recalled to Harare where they were previously stationed, further angering those who remained behind.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the officers said it was not true that they were alerted that the transfers could be permanent.
“It was specifically indicated that this was relief for 15 days but later extended to three months but without official communication. We are not happy with the criteria used as those closely related to station heads were taken back to Harare,” said a disgruntled officer.
Another officer said it was not fair to transfer people four times in two years as that affects their social lives.
“We wonder what will happen to us as some have been moved four times in two years. This is the highest level of inconsideration because some were barely five months at their previous stations since they were moved there last year in October.
“It means families have to move again with children transferring to new schools and these factors will affect the social development and educational performance of the children,” he said.
The officers said they cannot voice their concerns fearing victimisation, adding that they would also suffer with their families because there was no relocation allowance.
“Initially, we stayed in lodges for two weeks as we were given allowances but after June we have been paying for our accommodation.
“No-one has received any money for July and it’s as if we are now running two families.
“As we speak, some officers are leading destitute lives being accommodated by well-wishers while some share rooms because they can’t afford paying double rentals.”
The officers have implored the Government to institute an inquiry into the Immigration Department alleging victimisation by senior management.
Contacted for comment, Immigration Department principal director Mr Clemence Masango expressed ignorance on the matter but stressed that there was nothing unusual about the transfers.
“I am not encouraged to talk about this because we have dealt with it and there is nothing new,” he said before hanging up the phone.
Last year the department redeployed 157 officers countrywide in compliance with the Government’s directive to transfer all those who have stayed at their stations for more than five years.
The deployments also saw the Zimbabwe Republic Police redeploying 500 officers from Beitbridge to various stations across the country.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) moved 200 and 46 officers countrywide respectively.
The Judicial Services Commission initiated the move, saying this was mainly necessitated by rampant corruption at ports of entry especially at Beitbridge Border post, where congestion and delays fuel corruption. — @nonsy_m.