The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
THE government has committed itself to clearing the passport backlog by December this year after the purchasing of consumables required in passport production.
Government imports passport covers and consumables, with about eight security features. In April, the Civil Registry Department had about 200 000 applications prompting Government to introduce night shifts to clear the backlog that had resulted in people having to sleep at registry offices.
Speaking on the sidelines of a strategic workshop by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, permanent secretary in the Ministry, Mr Aaron Nhepera confirmed that they had since purchased the consumables required, with delivery expected at the beginning of November.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage is holding a strategic workshop, one of the topical issues that is being discussed is the issue of passports backlog. The passport backlog situation has however significantly improved having been reduced from the previous figure of 400 000 to the current figure of 184 000. Payment of consumables which has been the major cause for the backlog has finally been made, we are anticipating to start receiving the consumables beginning November which will enable us to clear the backlog by December 2021,” said Mr Nhepera.
The permanent secretary said while they work on clearing the backlog, they will only be issuing emergency passports with the hope that in December the situation will return to normalcy.
“In the meantime, GP, the company that government contracted to produce both ordinary and e-passports is still working on the logistics to enable it to start production in December. It is our hope that the time frame will be met.
“Once production starts the issue of passport backlog will become a thing of the past, in the meantime issuance of passports is restricted only to emergency cases, we are hoping that with us starting to receive the consumables we will be gravitating towards normalcy,” he said.