By Farirai Machivenyika
The office of the Registrar-General has passport backlog of 340 000, but is only printing 750 documents per day due to shortages of foreign currency to buy requisite printing materials.
This was said by the Registrar-General Mr Clemence Masango during a joint tour of the printing facilities at KGVI by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees of Defence, Home Affairs and Security and that of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
“This plant has got capacity to do 8 000 booklets per day and on the printing side we can do 3 000 per day,” he said.
“As of today, by virtue of available consumables, we are doing 750 and we are expecting to receive more consumables in the near future and up our production. As it stands we have a backlog of about 340 000.”
Mr Masango said clearing the backlog would be determined by the availability of consumables.
Most of the raw materials required to produce a passport are imported.
Mr Masango added that the printing plant was being under-utilised at the moment due to shortages of raw materials. “Our national demand for passports is less than 8 000 per day because on a day we receive plus or minus 1 000 new applications, therefore, we have excess to print passports,” he said.
The RG added that because of that excess capacity, there was no need to establish other printing plants in the country. Mr Masango also ruled out exempting people with access to foreign currency to use that to pay for their passports, saying it was against the laws of the land.
“We are governed by national policy and laws of the land and at the moment the services we offer are governed by policies announced by the Ministry of Finance (which do not allow charging in foreign currency). We also don’t want to create a situation where those that can afford end up being the only ones with access to passports,” Mr Masango said. The Herald