Staff at the Registrar–General,s office say they are now struggling to cope with the large numbers of people applying for passports.The South African government ultimatum coincided with Zimbabwe,s own decision to slash passport fees from USD140 to USD50.
After the announcement by Home Affairs Department in South Africa, thousands of Zimbabweans who had been working and living in that country illegally returned home to apply for travel documents.
A Radio Vop reporter who visited the passport office found hundreds of people sleeping outside the premises waiting to be the first in the queue when the offices opened for business.
Some people in the queues said they were asked to pay small bribes to be given application forms.
“ When I went to collect the forms I was told to come back after one month but if you pay a bribe, you get the forms in few minutes, said Hellen Moyo one of the people who slept in the queue.
Moyo said after spending five days visiting the offices, she was told to collect her forms on Novemeber 3.Some of the residents told Radio Vop that they now resorted to travelling to Gwanda where they said the staff there were more efficient than those in Bulawayo.
Although Radio Vop was not able to get official comment from the Registrar-General,s office, some staff members admitted the chaos at the passport office has been created by the influx of Zimbabweans who work in South Africa affectionately known in Matabeleland as Injiva.
Meanwhile Home Affairs Department in South Africa says it has so far processed 24000 applications for permits from the Zimbabwean immigrants.Out of that number 6000 permits have been issued while 247 applications were rejected because it was discovered that they were accompanied by fraudulent letters of employment.
After December 31, Zimbabweans in South Africa who will be found without permits will be deported.