Government sits on 200,000 passport applications

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By Leopold Munhende

GOVERNMENT is sitting on some 208,000 passport applications with the Registrar’s  General’s office targeting production of 8,000 units per day to deal with the backlog, Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema has said.

Mathema was addressing journalists in Harare in a bid to dispel growing speculation that the country’s passport office had stopped production of the documents due to technical and financial problems.

There were also media reports that government was considering hiking application fees.

“We have had challenges but we have rectified the situation, there are no increases on fees of passports whatsoever, the situation remains the same as the Registrar General has said.

“The aim is to produce as many as 8,000 per day so as to deal with the backlog that has accumulated over the years,” said Mathema who could not share the exact number of passports being printed at Makombe Building on a day to day basis.

“The backlog is 208,000 passports, the machine we have can produce around 8,000 per day and we have to get rid of that backlog…our people want to travel, we are moving towards removing the queues you have been seeing.”

Last week the Registrar General’s office reportedly suspended operations, due to a system failure which affected passport processing and production. The suspension was not any way linked to their capacity according to Registrar General Clement Masango.

“It is not government practise to communicate official matters through social media, there are no plans to revise passport fees upwards as alleged by social media,” Masango is quoted as having said.

Passports fees were alleged to have been hiked from RTGS$53 to $253 by government, while an emergency passport would now attract a fee of $800 from $253.

Mathema shared government plans to decentralise issuance official documents indicating his Ministry would establish satellite offices in Bindura and Chitungwiza.