By Thandiwe Garusa
A backlog of 340 000 passports will be cleared in the next three weeks while passport fees will remain the same, Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema said Friday.
The announcement comes weeks after Zimbabwe reduced passport production to 60 a day, triggering rampant corruption as citizens desperate to leave the country used every avenue to get the travel documents.
Mathema said the Registrar General’s department will begin to produce 3 000 passports a day in a bid to clear the backlog.
“I promised the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) and the country that we would soon be producing 3000 passports per day towards our targeted figure of 8000 a day which is equal to our production capacity,” said Mathema.
According to Mathema, government has paid US$3 million to the suppliers of passport consumables which have reduced its debt to US$4 million. He added that the Registrar General’s office has also received consumables for identity documents.
Mathema said the Registrar General’s office will also begin production of e-passports which he said are more secure and biometric passports which include an electronic chip that will hold the same information that is printed on the passport’s data page.
He dismissed reports of an impending steep increase in passport fees.
“People are getting false social media rumours that we will increase passport fees and I am saying they are lies,” Mathema said.
Home Affairs secretary Melusi Matshiya, who spoke at the same occasion, said government will facilitate the establishment of mobile units across the country in order to reduce queues.
“As the Ministry, we are cognisant of long winding queues and that along the queues there is corruption. We are trying to avoid that human interface because we know most are prone to temptation,” Machaya said.
Mathema weighed in: “We want everyone to have access to passports and even the most remote areas to get access to passports and people should concentrate more on economic issues rather than queuing at registrar offices.”