By Tendai Mugabe
Government is working out strategies to clear the passport backlog and increase daily production from the current 2 500 to 8 000, Home Affairs and Cultural Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe has said.
Minister Kazembe has warned corrupt officials at the Passport Office allegedly taking bribes to process travel documents, urging those with evidence of such corruption to come forward so that the law could take its course.
Minister Kazembe was speaking after a familiarisation tour of the passport production plant at the Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks in Harare yesterday.
“As a ministry, we remain committed to ensuring that every citizen who needs a passport gets one without hurdles,” he said.
“In this respect, Government has committed resources for the purchasing of consumables so that we clear the backlog in the first half of the year. If we are to meet our targets, we need to up our production from the current 2 500 to 8 000 a day. For this vision and thrust to be a success, you have to work extra hard in meeting the targets.
“In my interactions with various members of the public and media, since I took over this portfolio, I have been inundated with calls alleging corrupt tendencies in the Passport Office. Let me reiterate once again that corruption in all its forms will not be tolerated and anyone caught outside the law will be dismissed forthwith. It is incumbent upon all of us that we deal with the few bad apples among us who are tarnishing the good name of the department.”
Minister Kazembe described his visit to the passport production plant as an eye opener.
He said the fee to obtain a passport remains $53 although discussions were underway to review this and allow locals with free funds to pay in foreign currency.
“The challenges that we have been told are real,” said Minister Kazembe.
“However, we must also try to strike a balance because at the end of the day access to those documents is a constitutional right so those discussions are still going on and it’s a process to improve that. As of now those costs have not been increased.”
Minister Kazembe was accompanied by his deputy Mike Madiro, Registrar-General Mr Clement Masango and Deputy Registrar General Mr Henry Machiri. The Herald