By Blessings Chidakwa
The government has announced an ambitious plan to churn out 100 000 passports by December this year following the delivery of passport paper and consumables.
The development is expected to considerably cut the passports backlog of more than 300 000.
Plans are also underway to start rolling out a cross-border outreach programme that will see the issuance of birth certificates and national identity documents to Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora.
Addressing a press conference at Mukwati Building in Harare yesterday, the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, 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 them 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.
“While the impact of the measures taken so far are 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.
He said in line with their decentralisation programme aimed at ensuring that identity documents were available closer to the people, the Murehwa District Registry is almost complete.
Minister Mathema said significant progress has also been made in the completion of Wedza District Registry.
“Plans for the year 2020 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,” he said.
Minister Mathema said completion of the registries was important as that enables the ministry to bring computerised services “nearer to the people”.
He said the process is expected to continue until it reaches 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, together with 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 embarked upon in the near future 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 Ministry of Foreign Affairs 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. The Chronicle