Just received a text message saying my passport is out. I suppose to those who obtain passports easily, this is nothing to write about, but with my experience getting a Zimbabwean passport in the past, I say this is a major victory.
There is now no need to go to the passport office every few weeks to check. They have improved their system, by sending out text messages to inform you that your passport is out. I guess this also builds to the efficiency, no need to deal with hundreds of people inquiring about their passports every day.
When they told me that my passport was going to be out in six weeks, I just sighed and nodded. Being the cautious person I am, I had applied for a passport almost a year early, so that there would be no need for emergency expensive applications. It was a week later than promised, but I’m not counting the weeks. What is a week between friends. Looking from where we’ve come from this is a great great improvement.
I will say that the process has improved greatly. It is worlds apart from 2008 when you needed to ‘beg to apply’ to get a passport. For those who never experienced this, in 2008, hundreds if not thousands of people woke early with application letters in hand, to apply for passports. The letters were collected and then screened! Those with compelling reasons why they needed passports were then given forms. People went for weeks, changing stories everyday, till they got one that hit! At least that is no longer the case. Everyone is entitled to having a passport and there is no need to know what they want to do with it.
Well done to the Department of Registrations! Please keep up the good work and continue improving your system.
Passport Submitted on the 8th of May 2014
Passport out on 27 June 2014, almost seven weeks after submission.
I am sure the emergency passports are also efficient. Mine was a regular $50 application.
In typical Zimbabwean fashion, we have to eat an elephant one bite at time. In this case, the dual citizenship battle is being won, one case at a time. It seems that there is no place for precedents, since a number of cases have now been won. One such case is the Mutumwa Mawere case which he won just before the 2013 election. It seems like a waste of resources to deny citizens their rights and have to pursue legal routes just to be told to enforce the constitutional rights of people. When the law is enacted, those down the line, the officers who deal with cases on a daily basis usually left in the dark about new developments. They then continue to deny people their rights out of ignorance. Some, for some skewed reason decide to continue doing what they did before, just to make complicate the process.
I had an experience like this with a traffic policeman. It was the week of the expiry of the road disks and as I left home I realised I hadn’t changed the disk. We all decided that it was going to be ok since there was a grace period. As suspected, the roads were full of policemen looking for the disks. I nicely explained that there was a grace period and the law allowed us to drive during the grace period. The officers reaction was in his exact words, ” Waakuda kuzivisa nhai! Manje ndikachuonesa moto nenyaya yako yekuda kuzivisa iyo!” Some things sound better in Shona. What the policeman said was, “You want to act like you know a lot, now I am going to penalise you for that!” I have since learnt my lesson to be rather patient with the law enforcers and government officers, because the truth or he legal position really irks them. So back to the issue at hand, this will be challenge of obtaining documentation as a dual citizen, dealing with the bureaucrats.
Recently, the Constitutional Court has endorsed a Zimbabwean citizen’s unrestricted entitlement to dual citizenship rights and ordered the Registrar General, Minister of Home Affairs, Attorney General and the Principal Director of Immigration to comply with the law.
In endorsing the dual citizenship law which came into force following the adoption of the new constitution’s provisions, the full bench of the Constitutional Court has upheld an application by Farai Daniel Madzimbamuto seeking to compel the Principal Director of Immigration to endorse his South African passport with unrestricted and indefinite residence permit.
Madzimbamuto, who was represented by Jane Wood had approached the highest court in the land aggrieved that as a Zimbabwean citizen by birth, he was regarded as an alien in terms of the immigration regulations and compelled to apply for a residence permit as all holders of foreign passports.
The appellant is a holder of a South African passport by virtue of one of his parents being a South African descendent and his Zimbabwean passport had expired while he was in the United Kingdom where he was referred to Harare for a renewal.
He returned but failed to secure a new passport owing to the chaotic situation at the passport office and he returned to the UK where he was issued with a South African passport.
In 2012, he returned to Zimbabwe permanently and upon presenting his South African passport to immigration officials he was advised to apply for a residence permit and was issued with a 2-year permit.
When the new constitution was promulgated he approached immigration requesting for the endorsement of a permanent residence status on his South African passport after advising them that he was now a holder of a Zimbabwean passport.
The officials did not respond compelling him to approach the court.
In its ruling, the court said Madzimbamuto was entitled to dual citizenship which is inherent in his birth right as a citizen and he must also enjoy the right to freedom of movement.
The court added that to deny him the right to freely enter Zimbabwe and leave the country on the grounds that he has presented a foreign passport would be to deprive him the fundamental rights guaranteed by the supreme law of the land.