By Robert Tapfumaneyi
HOME Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe has conceded government was still failing to issue national identity cards despite the Central Registry offices now being operational.
“Coming to the issue of National Identity Documents, my ministry is faced with a challenge in the issuance of polythene-synthetic identity documents,” Kazembe told parliament’s committee on Defence and Home Affairs Thursday.
“This has resulted from shortage of consumables and non-payment of licences and dongles which require foreign currency.
“Some registry offices have since stopped issuance of polythene-synthetic IDs and have resorted to issuance of Green Copy Waiting Pass.
“To address the situation, my ministry is planning to conduct a national mobile registration exercise once all logistics are in place.
“My ministry, through the Civil Registry Department, is limiting the number of applicants for polythene-synthetic IDs and priority is being given to high school students and urgent cases.”
Kazembe added, “Treasury has, however, committed to facilitating payment for consumables, licences and dongles in order to address the situation as soon as possible.”
The minister also told the MPs the department is currently experiencing a backlog in processing passports.
“Currently, we have a backlog of 225 747, dating back to March 2019; the backlog has been accumulating due to shortage of consumables which require foreign currency.
“To address the situation, my ministry has put in place a double Shift Working Programme with effect from 26 April 2021.
“The programme consists of the day and night shift, the night shift operates from 2000hrs to 0400hrs whilst the day shift operates from 0800hrs to 1600hrs.
“The two shifts will be working five (5) days a week excluding weekends.
“The strategy is aimed at clearing the passport backlog. With the introduction of the double shift working programme, my ministry will be in a position to produce between 4 000 and 4 500 passports a day.”
The expected daily output for the day shift will be between 2 000 and 2 500 whilst the expected output for the night shift will be 2 000.
Kazembe said Treasury made a commitment to avail funds for the procurement of additional equipment to complement the existing machinery.
“Procurement of additional equipment and consumables will increase the production capacity from 4 500 to 9 000 thereby reducing the turn-around time for the clearance of the backlog,” he said.
“These measures will see the ministry being able to meet the current demand for passports while ensuring that the backlog does not occur.”