Blessings Chidakwa Herald Correspondent
Government is moving to clear the passport backlog by producing 100 000 copies by December following the delivery of paper and other consumables, while a facility is being put in place for people in the Diaspora to apply for the travelling document from their bases.
The move is expected to considerably reduce the backlog of over 300 000 passports.
Under a cross-border outreach programme, birth certificates and national identity documents will be issued to Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora.
Addressing a Press conference at Mukwati Building in Harare yesterday, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema said they had taken delivery of “three state-of-the-art high capacity passport printers”, which have since been installed.
This has given capacity to make headway in clearing the passports backlog, while at the same time attending to new applications.
“Further steps have been taken to take delivery of passport paper and consumables, as well as material for the production of synthetic identification cards to make sure that all those requiring our services get them in line with our client service charter,” said Minister Mathema.
“While the impact of the measures taken so far is considerable in that about 100 000 people who applied for passports will take delivery of such documents by the end of December 2019, with the arrival of the additional material on order at the end of November 2019 or early December 2019, we expect to double the number of people getting passports within two months of taking delivery.”
Minister Mathema said in line with the decentralisation programme aimed at ensuring that identity documents were available closer to the people, the Murehwa District Registry was almost complete.
He said significant progress had been made in the completion of the Wedza District Registry.
“For plans for the year 2020, the ministry’s infrastructure programme should see the completion of these two registries and work proceeding in earnest to construct the Goromonzi, Kadoma and Insiza registries,” said Minister Mathema.
He said completion of the registries would enable the ministry to bring computerised services “nearer to the people”.
Minister Mathema said the process was expected to continue until it reached the sub-district level to make it possible for citizens to apply and collect documents at their “nearest administrative district”.
In a related matter, the ministries of Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, have agreed that an outreach programme by the Central Registry department should be undertaken to provide vital registration documents, including birth certificates and national identity documents, to selected countries where Zimbabweans are working.
Minister Mathema said the purpose of the outreach programme would be to issue birth certificates and national documents, as well as receive passport applications for processing back home.
“After agreement with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development it will be possible for people in the Diaspora to pay the fees for these documents, the equivalent of the approved fees in currencies of their host countries,” he said.
Minister Mathema said on a more permanent basis, the ministries of Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs have agreed to regularise the movement of the Diplomatic bag to allow people in the Diaspora to apply and pay for passports at the embassies near them.
Diplomatic bag refers to a container in which official mail is sent to or from an embassy, which is not subject to customs inspection.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry will then submit the applications through their head office to the external section of the passport office under the Central Registry department.
“The passport office will then expeditiously process the applications within a period of approximately 10 working days and send them back to the Diaspora through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade,” he said.