By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |
There was a bizarre accident at Makome Passport Offices on Thursday after Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe appeared incognito, disguised as a civilian and some guy sold him a place in the queue for US$ 30 “but he is now in the police holding cells.”
Kazembe went to the passport office to assess the situation in preparation for a response to the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services on policy decisions being taken to reduce the backlog on the provision of primary identity documents and travel documents.
He went undercover as a civilian resulting in a certain man identified as Avito Newton (40) offering his space for US$30 for Kazembe to jump the queue. The identified man did not know he was dealing with the minister and he was eventually arrested and charged for corruption by the incognito police who accompanied Kazembe.
Law expert and political analyst Alex Magaisa castigated the move by the minister arguing cases like that of gold smuggler Henrietta Rushwaya was not taken seriously while arresting “a chap for selling a place in a queue generated by the government’s incompetence!”
“Henrietta Rushwaya who was caught red-handed smuggling 6kgs of gold at the airport is almost forgotten & her case is going nowhere but the Home Affairs Minister is announcing the arrest of a chap for selling a place in a queue generated by the government’s incompetence!” Magaisa said.
Police confirmed the arrest of Newton.
“The ZRP confirms that the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage effected an arrest of Avito Newton (40) at Makombe Building, Hre for criminals activities on 29/04/21 at about 0645 hrs.
“The Minister overhead the suspect touting for persons who wanted to be assisted in obtaining passport application forms at a cost of US$ 30 before inviting the suspect to his motor vehicle, acting as if he wanted to be assisted.
“The suspect was handed over US$50 which he took and started to negotiate with the Honourable Minister on passport acquisition and was subsequently arrested,” read the police statement.
Meanwhile, Kazembe said the 225 747 passport backlog has been accumulating due to lack of foreign currency.
“Honourable Members, coming to Passports production, my Ministry is currently experiencing a backlog in the processing of passports. Currently we have a backlog of 225 747, dating back to March 2019. The backlog has been accumulating due to shortage of consumables which require foreign currency.
“To address the situation, my Ministry has put in place the following measures:- Introduction of Double Shift Working Programme with effect from 26 April 2021. The programme consists of the day and night shift.The night shift operates from 2000hrs to 0400hrs whilst the day shift operates from 0800hrs to 1600hrs. The strategy is aimed at clearing the passport backlog,he explained.
“With the introduction of the double shift working programme, My Ministry will be in a position to produce between 4 000 and 4 500 passports a day. The expected daily output for the day shift will be between 2 000 and 2 500 whilst the expected output for the night shift will be 2 000,added Kazembe.
“Treasury made a commitment to avail funds for the procurement of additional equipment to complement the existing machinery. Procurement of additional equipment and consumables will increase the production capacity from 4 500 to 9 000 thereby reducing the turn-around time for the clearance of the backlog. These measures will see the Ministry being able to meet the current demand for passports while ensuring that the backlog does not occur,he noted,” he said.
Commenting on the issue, award-winning investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono said Mnangagwa’s administration had failed to fund a better way of processing passports hence the minister should not celebrate the arrest of a “tout”.
“Sadly many are missing the tragedy in this analogy, Varashiki are celebrating the arresting of the tout.
“The real story is that the minister’s regime has failed to fund the smooth processing of passports on time.
“If you don’t fence your field, you can’t celebrate catching a baboon eating your maize!” Chin’ono said.
He added: “If his regime provided money for passports to be issued on time, there won’t be touts offering to help him jump the queue.
“This regime has mastered the art of distraction, and sadly some of our citizens fall for it!
“The minister had no business pretending to be someone else, he knows the amount of money needed to get passports out on time, he knows that his regime hasn’t released that money.
“Therefore common sense should tell him that there will be queues, and that there will also be touts who wake up at 2AM to hold places, then sell them!”
Chin’ono added the issue was being caused by the looting of public funds and the plunder of the nation’s resources.
“The minister shouldn’t celebrate on seeing the symptoms of his regime’s tragic failures, he should address the root cause!
“To you the citizens, go and register to vote to end this circus and tragedy of failing to get a passport or ID when you need one!” Nehanda Radio