Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
BEITBRIDGE residents have called on Government to decentralise the issuance of passports to district level to ease the challenges that people are encountering when applying for the travel documents.
Residents who contributed during the recent public inquiries by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence, Security and Home Affairs held in Beitbridge last week, expressed concern that they have to travel long distances to get IDs and passports.
“It is our plea that Government decentralise the Registrar’s General’s Office to district level, especially where the application, capturing of data and issuance of passports is concerned,” said Mr Jabulani Makhado.
“This office will then submit the applications to the provincial or the national office where production of the passports will be done. We are now living in the internet age where computers are networked.
“Why should someone sell their livestock to travel for long distances just to access a basic document? This can be done at the district offices or alternatively satellite or mobile offices can be opened whereby people are advised as and when the application processes will be open.”
Mr Makhado said it was also important for the Registrar General’s office to consider deploying people conversant with local languages to avoid the recurrence of primary data capturing mistakes.
“We are worried with the number of spelling errors on some names of people and places, when we have people in these respective areas who may do that task efficiently,” he said. “Future corrections on such errors are costly.”
Beitbridge Deputy Mayor Councillor Munyaradzi Chitsunge said Government should open a passport referral centre in Beitbridge to cater for local people and the transient population, considering its geographical location as the country’s and SADC’s busiest port of entry.
“It’s sad that people have to travel for over 400 kilometres to access passports,” he said. “Our wish is to have this process being done at district level.”
A representative of the Legal Resources Foundation Mrs Regina Ndlovu said there was a need for Government to relax requirements for women, mostly divorcees or widows, who were facing challenges in renewing their passports especially in instance where they change their surnames.
A senior citizen, Mrs Flora Gumbo, said the issuance of birth certificates should be reviewed to accommodate children born out of wedlock and those in difficult circumstances.
“Registering birth for children born out of wedlock or orphans has become a headache for guardians especially elderly people. Their plight should be addressed,” she said.
Mr Enos Mabidi from Shabwe area said it was important for Government to expedite the opening of another border post at Tshituripasi area some 120km east of the current border to relieve pressure on Beitbridge and minimise incidents of irregular migration (border jumping).
“We are also aware of the shortages in material to print passports in the country. It is my humble submission that the Government should extend the validity of some passports, especially those which are rarely used to avoid unnecessary waste of resources,” he said.