Forex crunch hits passports production; backlog reaches 117,000

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By Staff Reporter

MUTARE: Zimbabwe’s biting forex crunch is also affecting the production of passports with the backlog currently at 117,000 applications, officials have revealed.

The country has battled a serious forex crunch for years with the problem lately affecting fuel imports resulting in locals spending hours in queues at filling stations, including overnight.

Processing of passport applications has not been spared either, Registrar General Clemence Masango told the media recently.

“Foreign currency is a challenge and we are not an exception,” said Masango, adding that the department imports the special material used in the production of passports.

He however, said a “special arrangement” had been agreed with the Treasury to ensure the department receives funding for the procurement of the required material.

Meanwhile, the backlog in passport applications now stands at 117,0000, Masango told journalists during a tour of the department’s offices in the eastern border city.

The department receives about 1,500 passport applications per day.

“We have one production plant in Harare which has the capacity to meet demand by producing 6,000 passports a day but at the moment we are producing 2,500 mainly due to limited availability of consumables like passport paper, ink and ribbons.

“We are working round the clock to clear the backlog and we expect to clear the backlog by April 2019,” he said.

Computerisation and decentralisation of services would also help reduce the frustrating queues long complained about by service users around the country.

“Computerisation and decentralisation of the registry will help to deal with long queues and delays being experienced in the processing of the applications for passports,” said Masango.

He promised that the department would have cleared the passports backlog by the end of December this year.

Masango was appointed registrar general in September this year, taking over from Tobaiwa Mudede who was retired after being in post since independence in 1980.