Traditional chiefs are demanding diplomatic passports from the Government for what they call ease of travel across borders.

Chief Clemence Nembiri of Mt Darwin in Mashonaland Central province made the demand during a Civil Registry Department workshop on Wednesday.

The workshop with the national council of Chiefs on the implementation of active notification for community births and deaths was held at a local hotel.

Contributing during a question-and-answer session, Chief Nembiri said it was imperative that Government gives traditional leaders the special travel document since they were also leaders.

“There is a need for chiefs to be given diplomatic passports. At the moment you find that these documents are even given to people whose leadership position is never guaranteed but is at the mercy of either the appointing authority or the people who vote. Such people may be in power for just a few years yet they are quickly given diplomatic passports but a chief, whose title is neither by appointment nor through the ballot does not have that privilege. We are harassed at the borders despite the fact that we lead the masses too,” said Chief Nembiri.

In response, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Major General (Rtd) Dr Gerald Gwinji said issuing diplomatic passports was the purview of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international relations.

“As a Ministry, we do not determine who gets a diplomatic passport and who does not. That is done by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations. Ours is only to process upon communication from Foreign Affairs that so and so must be a recipient of a diplomatic passport, however, I will engage and pass on the request and we will copy the president of the Chiefs Council as proof of that engagement,” said Maj Gen (Rtd) Gwinji.

- Herald