THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC yesterday alleged that government was refusing to renew its leader’s passport in a deliberate attempt to bar him from travelling in the region and beyond to appraise leaders on political developments in the country.
Tsvangirai, who is prime minister-designate in an all-inclusive government made up of his party, Zanu PF and the smaller formation of the MDC led by Professor Arthur Mutambara, is still without a passport three months after it expired and he applied for a new one.
The Registrar-General (RG)’s office in Harare was reportedly reluctant to issue Tsvangirai with a new passport or an emergency travel document for him to visit regional and international leaders to update them on the impasse between him and President Robert Mugabe on the formation of a new cabinet.
Sources in the MDC said the RG’s office was claiming that it had run out of materials to produce passports, but senior officials in the same office said hundreds of Zimbabweans were issued with the travelling documents after Tsvangirai’s application.
George Sibotshiwe, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, yesterday said the refusal to give the MDC president a passport was a deliberate move by the state to bar him from travelling.
“There is a deliberate plot in government to prevent Tsvangirai from accessing regional and international leaders at this very crucial moment for Zimbabwe,” Sibotshiwe said. “It is critical for him to consult with leaders in the region and internationally and denying him a passport as a Zimbabwean is an infringement of his human rights.”
Sibotshiwe said the delay in issuing the passport was affecting the party’s regional and international diplomatic activities.
“The president has to engage colleagues in the region and internationally, especially now, to find ways of how he can help to make Zimbabwe move forward and to appraise them on the progress of the negotiations,” he said.
Tsvangirai applied for a new passport in May after the pages in his old one had been exhausted.
In Zimbabwe, it normally takes two working days for an emergency passport to be issued, but Tsvangirai was told on several occasions that there were no passport materials.
President Mugabe reportedly took an entourage of 54 people to the UN General Assembly in New York last week.
By Loughty Dube