The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday News Reporter
THE Registrar General’s office has managed to produce over 200 000 passports during the lockdown period, despite the scaling back of operations due to Covid-19 concerns.
In a media briefing after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Kazembe Kazembe said the number of passport backlog clearances was now approaching 300 000.
The news came as Government gave permission to the Central Registry to resume operations under WHO guidelines and among other things, clear the backlog in issuing birth certificates, national registration and passports. For the issuance of passports Minister Kazembe said priority would be given to those with genuine emergencies.
“We have actually requested for partial reopening, so we will be proving some services. In that regard I can safely say we have enough to deal with specific cases. Let me explain what services we will be providing.
“When it comes to passports we are not open for the general public. It’s simply for those that are are in critical need of passports for now. I’m talking about those who maybe who want to seek medical services out of the country or those who have proof that they have been offered an opportunity outside the country or an opportunity to study outside the country. Those are the critical cases we are looking at so those we don’t expect them to be too many for now,” he said.
Minister Kazembe said despite operational constraints due to Covid-19, the clearance of the passport backlog had been going well.
“We have a sufficient of consumables but at the present moment we don’t have enough consumables to be able to cater to everybody. Having said that, we have been working even under Covid-19 to try and clear the backlog with the minimal resources that we had and I am glad to say we have cleared more than 200 000 (passports) and I think we are now going towards 300 000 in terms of clearance of the backlog,” he said.