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Petty corruption causes massive misery for the poor

People in Zimbabwe who can’t afford small bribes often lose out on birth certificates and passports.

An investigative report by the Standard said, “The forms of corruption reported [in the Registrar General’s Office] ranged from individuals selling queue positions, selling access to a registration officer, and selling even the right to be acknowledged and served within the RG’s Office.”

People from nine of Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces who were surveyed said they had to pay at least US$3 to bribe officials if they did not have proof of residency, a requirement to obtain a passport.

Chiefs in rural areas, the report said, demanded payments before writing a letter confirming that the person was indeed a villager in that area. The letters are needed to obtain birth certificates.

‘Some respondents,’ according to the report, ‘said they had to pay US$50 or more to get passports, a princely sum, considering they would have incurred transport and accommodation expenses.’

Most single mothers, the Standard said, couldn’t afford the bribes demanded for birth certificates for their children.

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