Source: Demand for Chinese visas surges | The Financial Gazette October 27, 2016
DEMAND for visas to China has surged, leading to hundreds of people intending to travel to the Far East country queuing up at the Chinese embassy from as early as 12 midnight.
Visa applicants allege that the Chinese embassy in Harare is only serving up to 30 people per day to cut back on the number of Zimbabweans flocking to China.
In the past, the embassy would attend to between 50 and 60 visas applications per day.
A Financial Gazette crew was greeted by gloomy faces of frustrated individuals, some of them having frequented the embassy for nearly a week, trying to obtain visas.
Priscilla Marume is one of those people who have been visiting the embassy for a whole week without getting any assistance from the embassy staff.
Some students who had travelled from as far as Victoria Falls claimed they had spent two nights at the embassy hoping to be assisted, but to no avail.
They described their situation as desperate because they were missing out on lectures which have since begun at their respective Chinese universities.
Business visa applicants said they were also not happy with the treatment they were receiving because they were being forced to apply for the visas under the tourism category.
They said such misrepresantation was inconveniencing them because their applications could be turned down for failing to pass the credibility test.
Another Chinese visa applicant, Stanslaus Murenje, said the Chinese embassy was changing its systems and procedures every day and was not communicating with its clients beforehand.
“After submitting a visa application you don’t even know when it is going to be accepted. Today, only a few vocal people got their documents. This is frustrating because I have to cancel my flight again and a percentage of the airfare will be deducted,” said Murenje.
An embassy official who spoke on conditions of anonymity said they have been processing 30 visas and sometimes lesser visas a day for the past month.
“The frustrating thing about this new arrangement is that collections are only done at 07:00 hours and such conditions clearly signify that the Chinese might increasingly be getting fed up with Zimbabwean visitors,” he said.
China’s deputy ambassador to Zimbabwe, Baogang Zhao, dismissed the claims, describing them as unfounded.
“We are all time friends with Zimbabwe and the problems we are experiencing are genuine. The staff members working on the documents are very few and this has slowed down processing. As a result, a number of visa applicants are now speculating,” said Zhao.
Zhao said that the situation had also been worsened by some applicants who are submitting wrong documents as well as the increase in the number of Zimbabwean students enrolled at universities in China.