*The Zimbabwean e-passport – An ordinary citizen’s experience* by Linda K Sibs
As with anything that involves the Governement Of Zimbabwe one must prepare themselves to be at their gate or door at the crack of dawn. They must find you waiting. 😂
I was at the New Civil Registry building by 7am.
I joined a small queue at the New Civil Registry Building and I was advised that if I’m applying for a new passport I must join the queue at the Old Passport Building gate. I took a brisk walk to the Old building.
*Tip: best you get dropped off – parking is tricky and not safe.
Along the way you’ll be accosted by men asking:
“have you photocopied your documents?”
“do you have a number?”
“have you booked?”
“do you want to pay to be pushed up the queue?”
“where are you parked? – do you need parking?”.
All of which I was saying NO to.
*Tip: Ignore them all and just wait for the registry employees to come and assist you.
I walked all the way down to the Queen Elizabeth gate and I could actually see Samora Machel Ave 😂from where I was and I thought to myself, “Goodness me will I make it without my dad?” This is my first passport process without my dad as my first two passports he was there walking and guiding me through and this was all in Bulawayo. Nothing says full grown adult like handling your own passport application right?
After today give me my adulting stars!
Anyways I patiently waited in the queue. Whilst in this queue please be weary of the various gentlemen who will still come and ask if you would like assistance in jumping the queue.
I know it’s tempting but HOLD your position.
Shortly before 8am employees from the registry’s office will come out and ask those applying for ID’s to follow them. Then shortly after another employee will come out and ask those applying for e-passports to follow them.
They’ll be so much confusion and misinformation from the queue but like I said earlier HOLD your position and listen to no one but registry employees.
The initial queue you join has everyone lined. From the old passport applicants who are handing in their forms or other things. Most people in the queue didn’t know about the e-passport. Some in error assumed it was an emergency passport.
Like I said just HOLD your position.
The e-passport registry employee will then walk with you in a single file from the QE side all the way to the New Registry.
Once you get there they’ll sit you in a waiting area and call you one by one to a desk to check your papers;
1. Original birth certificate and copy.
2. Original ID and copy.
3. Old passport.
You’ll be handed a check list by the registry employee and a number. I was #92.
After, you rejoin the queue and await to be called in to go and make payment at CBZ. CBZ has an entire banking mall there on the first floor.
Unfortunately after making my payment the e-passport system went down and now the long wait begun. I was waiting from 9:47am till 11:16am when the system came back up.
I was called back into the building from the waiting area and then went in to fill out my passport application form.
I chuckled at the official status options available on the form – single, married, divorced, widowed all reiterating my point that “in a relationship” is just a social media status. 🙃
After filling in the form, I entered the first verification booth. Lady checked my documents again and signed. Instructed me to go into another room for photos (which they now take there) and finger prints. Lady in there also asked for my documents both originals and copies.
After she was done with that she instructed me to go for final verification.
In the final verification booth they’ll ask you to reconfirm your details – all your names, ID, date of birth. Then process is complete with the instruction of come back in 7 working days to collect. Told not to forget my bank deposit slips. (They are two – US$100 goes to the GoZ and US$20 goes to an account that has “Passport fee” as account name.)
I was out of the Civil Registry Building at 12 noon.
This process took me 5 hours including the downtime when system was down. The group that came after me took just a little over an hour as they came in when system was back up.
From my experience the process was mildly painful.
However I’m happy I’ll be collecting my new e-passport in 7 working days shortly after my old one expires on 31/01/2022.
Overall advice: HOLD your position that your are there for an e-passport no matter what anyone else in the queue or the gentlemen who mill around the passport office tell you.
Seek help and instruction from registry employees ONLY!
Overall pain: Painless to mildly painful.
(Pain tolerances differ some don’t want to wait in any queue whatsoever but nomination court taught me well. 😉)
All the best citizens as you apply for your new e-passport!
PS Please I forgot to add something very important – DOUBLE MASK! It’s Covid central there I tell you, there’s no social distancing at all.😭😭😭
About the author
Linda K. Sibs is a Dynamic Changemaker.