By Anna Chibamu
CABINET on Tuesday approved the engagement of a private partner on the production of e-passports and other national identity documentation.
In a statement, cabinet said it had resolved to partner a private company for a National Biometric Database for the Production of e-Passports, National Identity Cards and Birth Certificates.
The implementation of such a national biometric database, according to government, would increase production of passports and help clear a backlog that has been haunting the Registrar General’s office for years while creating room for corruption among officials and desperate seekers of the scarce document.
“Cabinet considered and approved the proposed engagement of a private partner in the implementation of a National Biometric Database for the Production of e-Passports, National Identity Cards and Birth Certificates.
“The partnership will increase the passport production capacity to 4 million units per year, resulting not only in the clearance of the current backlog, but also meeting the daily demand and enabling the country’s Embassies to issue passports to Zimbabwean citizens abroad,” read part of the statement.
Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe recently witnessed the corrupt activities at the Makombe passport office after he was asked to pay a US$30 bribe to jump the queue.
Kazembe told the media that owing to a lack of forex for consumables and document validation equipment, only 2 000 passports can be processed per day.
He said steps were being taken to correct the situation.
Recently, the Registrar-General’s Office introduced night shifts for passport printing in a bid to clear a backlog of 225 747.