By Idah Mhetu
ZIMBABWEANS based abroad could soon be able to secure passports and other identity documents without the hassle of coming home to apply for them.
Addressing the media in Harare Monday, Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema said government will soon roll out outreach programmes to issue the important documents to Zimbabweans living in the diaspora.
“…My ministry has agreed that an outreach programme by the Central Registry Department should be embarked upon in the near future to provide vital registration documents such as birth certificates, national identity documents to selected countries with our nationals living in the diaspora.
“The purpose of the outreach will be to issue birth certificates and national identity documents as well as receiving applications for passports for processing back in Harare.,” said the minister.
Mathema said the decision was made by the Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs and International Trade ministries as well as the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
For years, Zimbabweans in the diaspora were also struggling to renew their passports.
Mathema said Zimbabweans in the diaspora will be expected to pay application fees for the documents in foreign currency.
“After agreement with the Ministry of Finance, it will be possible for people in the diaspora to pay the fees for these documents, the equivalent approved fees in the currencies of their host countries,” he said.
Mathema also said after applying for the documents, the passport office will process the documents within 10 working days, and they will be sent back to the diaspora.
“The passport office will expeditiously process the applications within a period of approximately 10 working days and send them back to the diaspora through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
The country is experiencing an acute shortage of passport paper, something that has seen applications pile up everyday with no meaningful production taking place.
But Minister Mathema said the Central Registry would, end of December this year, have processed some 100 000 new passports.
Commenting on government plans to issue passports outside the country, Home Affairs secretary, Melusi Matshiya said the applications will be made through the country’s embassies in the respective host countries.
“The advantage of applying for passports in the diaspora is that one will not need to buy a ticket back to Zimbabwe to apply for a passport or national identity document,” said Matshiya.
This could come as great relief to some Zimbabweans who were at the mercy of some corrupt officials within the Registrar General’s office who would make the applications pay hundreds of US dollars bribe money in order to obtain the much sought after document.