Cross-border traders push for special passports
By DUMISANI NYONI
=THE Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) has called upon the government to issue special travel documents to its members, especially those whose passports would have expired.
BVTA director Michael Ndiweni told this publication that it was unfair for cross-border traders to wait for a year to get a passport yet they were conducting businesses to eke out a living.
Cross border trading sustains the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of households in the country due to a high unemployment rate triggered by company closures.
“We are pushing for an informal cross-border trader’s special passport, considering that these people (cross-border traders) do business outside the country. They cannot wait for a year for the passport to be out,” Ndiweni said.
“We are calling on the government to strongly consider a special travel document to people in this sector, particularly women,” he said.
“It is common knowledge that cross-border traders have to sell and buy commodities in foreign lands to send children to school, to access medication, to meet their daily needs. We are looking forward to engaging the government in due course, particularly the Ministry of Home Affairs,” Ndiweni said.
Getting an ordinary passport has become a mammoth task due to corruption involving officials at the Registrar-General’s department.
Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe recently acknowledged that officers at passport offices were demanding as much as US$20 to issue people with such documentation.