By Vusumuzi Dube
The Government has committed itself to clearing the passport backlog by December this year after the purchasing of consumables required in passport production.
Government imports passport covers and consumables, with about eight security features. In April, the Civil Registry Department had about 200 000 applications prompting Government to introduce night shifts to clear the backlog that had resulted in people having to sleep at registry offices.
Speaking on the sidelines of a strategic workshop by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage that was held in Kariba last week, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr Aaron Nhepera confirmed that they had since purchased the consumables required, with delivery expected at the beginning of November.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage is holding a strategic workshop, one of the topical issues that is being discussed is the issue of passports backlog.
The passport backlog situation has however, significantly improved having been reduced from the previous figure of 400 000 to the current figure of 184 000.
Payment of consumables which has been the major cause for the backlog has finally been made, we are anticipating to start receiving the consumables beginning November which will enable us to clear the backlog by December 2021,” said Mr Nhepera.
The Permanent Secretary said while they work on clearing the backlog, they will only be issuing emergency passports with the hope that in December the situation will return to normalcy.
Mr Nhepera said their goal was to ensure that they enable every citizen to easily access passports. So desperate have been people to get travelling documents that many throng passport offices dotted in each province, with the Harare and Bulawayo offices the worst crowded. The Sunday News