Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Mnangagwa lawyer sues RG’s office…. ‘I’m not paying US$40 bribe to collect my passports’

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro

Prominent lawyer Tinomudaishe Chinyoka on Wednesday launched a court application at the High Court in Harare, Nehanda Radio can report.

Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

In his Draft Order, Chinyoka prayed that an order be granted him allowing the release of his minor child, Tinodiwanaishe Chinyoka’s passport, which he believes was processed and is ready for collection, and is only being withheld until he succumbs to paying a bribe first.

Chinyoka’s court application cites three respondents; the Registrar-General (AG), Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), respectively.

In his founding affidavit, Chinyoka claims on December 31, 2019 he was asked to part with US$40 as bribe money for the release of his son and wife’s passports.

The money had to be handed over to one Mike Chikumbu who works at the Passport Office by some touts who had approached him for that purpose. The touts mediate between those needing passports and RG workers at the passports complex.

Chinyoka claims to have been duly advised by a former colleague at the University of Zimbabwe to play ball if he was serious about getting his wife and minor child’s passports.

Before testing how the bribe system works, Chinyoka says “I contacted a senior government official who I knew had been complaining about corruption at the 1st Respondent’s offices and told him what I had in mind.

“I only mention this in case my averments below are later disputed, as I shared them with him at the time,” he says in his founding affidavit.

Passports go through the numbering and perforation stage at the National Passport Production Centre in Harare
Passports go through the numbering and perforation stage at the National Passport Production Centre in Harare

This incident, according to the applicant’s founding affidavit, constitutes the basis of the High Court application.

But Chinyoka’s case started on August 21, 2019 when the family submitted applications for for three Zimbabwean passports.

The applications each had a letter proving that the applicants were deserving cases of urgent passports.

The applicant puts it as fact that there is chaos all-over the passports offices, which he claims is deliberate and purposeful.

“What I was able to observe is that the disorder is used as an instrument to induce people to pay money to go to the front.

“Time and time again, I was approached by people that said if I paid some money or bought an
official lunch, I would be at the top of the line.

“These people were not employed by the 1st Respondent,” Chinyoka avers in his affidavit.

It took the Chinyoka family a full day to merely submit applications for ordinary passports and they had to await notifications by authorities from the RG to report to the passports offices to pay top-ups in order to get their three-day urgent passports.

But one AP and Buri (not their real names) had earlier been advised to pay bribes and be treated like royalty, get their passports done in no time and avoiding the pushing and shoving normally associated with scenes at the RG’s.

Chinyoka says he refused the advice to pay similar bribes, not only from AP and Buri but also several others.

AP and Buri had paid US$300 each, referred to Marondera and Chinhoyi, respectively, from where their passports came out within a day.

Back to the top-up stage: Even this was not child’s play, according to Chinyoka

About months later – and for passport applications submitted on the same day as AP and Buri – Chinyoka claims he received phone calls from the RG’s office on different periods of about a month apart to report for top-ups for his daughter’s and son’s passports.

At the time of his court application, Chinyoka claims to have received a text message on 7 December 2019 to come and collect his son’s passport, yet each time he has gone to get it he is told that it is not ready. He says this is part of a ploy to induce him to pay a bribe.

But for each visit to pay top-up fees, Chinyoka submits that a similar situation obtained at the passports offices.

“Again, I had to go through a number of queues to get final signatures on the forms prior to making payments, then queued to pay.

“The same situation I had witnessed the first time, when people routinely cut to the front and got served without queuing, when certain individuals offered to facilitate the same for me, was still happening,” Chinyoka alleges.

In his closing remarks, Chinyoka proffers invaluable advice in order for the curbing of rampant corrupt tendencies that currently characterises the passports offices, not only in Harare but countrywide.

“Public offices and officials must not have administrative systems that are so chaotic that navigating them requires the expending of large amounts of time or money to bribe officials.

“For this reason, the 1st Respondent ought to put in place an orderly and clear application process, one that does not require the corralling of people around empty spaces and treating such people like animals without regard to their personal comfort and dignity.”

Chinyoka also argues for: “The creation of a functional and orderly application procedures… for purposes of openness and transparency.” Nehanda Radio