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Home Affairs runs out of travel documents

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By Hlengiwe Ndlovu - SWAZI OBSERVER-22-Jan-2010

ANOTHER travel document shortage has hit the country as the Ministry of Home Affairs has reportedly run out of copies for these all-important documents.

It has emerged that since December 2009, locals who had applied for travel documents could not get them and were told to wait longer because of the shortage.

Chief Immigrations Officer Phineas Dlamini disclosed that because of the travel document shortage, Swazi students studying in South Africa were being given international passports.

This move was considered after it transpired that the students could not get study permits and could not be admitted in universities and colleges because they did not have passports. Dlamini alluded to that there was a long queue of people seeking for travel documents yesterday but they could not be helped because another batch is only expected next month.

A Senator who preferred to anonymously comment on this matter as he has also been affected by the shortage said he had been told that new stock for the passports would only arrive on the 31st of March.

“This is a real crisis. Imagine the number of Swazis who remain grounded in Swaziland because of this problem,” he said. The Senator alleged that the Ministry of Home Affairs has been issuing emergency passports in desperate situations, which are of little help because they are only limited to travel in neighbouring South Africa and not other countries.

Sought for comment, Minister of Home Affairs Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze dared to say any Swazi student who has not been received a passport should come out in the open and say this. The Minister said as far as he is concerned, students were placed on the priority list in the issuance of passports and wondered which students were now claiming to be left behind. He said if anything, the Ministry had increased personnel in order to service Swazi students requiring passports and further wondered where talk about them being stranded is coming from.

The Minister was wary to comment on the travel document shortage and said he was yet to be briefed about this.

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