Passport backlog to be cleared this year, Minister Kazembe

By ZBC Reporter
GOVERNMENT is working on modalities to clear the passport backlog which has gone beyond 350 thousand.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage minister, Kazembe Kazembe who was in Chinhoyi where he toured provincial registry offices says government is working flat to clear the passport backlog which has been attributed to the shortage of foreign currency for procuring consumables.
On whether there are plans to decentralise passport issuing offices to district level, minister Kazembe said the most effective way is going digital and allow applicants to apply online.
“We have a backlog of 355 thousand passports, they need to be processed and that backlog has to be cleared before year-end. The major challenge is the lack of consumables. Decentralisation is an ongoing process. The solution is computerisation. There is no decentralisation that beats applications via online,” he said.
He stressed that the registry offices should all be solar powered as there have been delays in the processing of identity documents due to power cuts.
Several applicants who had an interface with the minister during his tour expressed concern over the slow pace with which they were being served.
Minister Kazembe’s tour of Mashonaland West provincial registry offices is the third leg of his national tour. Earlier this week he visited Gweru registry.
The government last year pegged passport fees for diasporans at US$318 to allow those living in the diaspora to speedily access the document as the local cost of getting a passport, ZWL$58, is not enough to meet production costs. However, there has been an outcry from the general public alleging that corrupt registry staff are now charging everyone who need to acquire a passport in US dollars. Government has promised to look into the allegations of corruption.