Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister, Cain Mathema, has said that the passport situation will improve within four to five weeks. He said that money has been disbursed for the procurement of modern machines to print passports.
Mathema speaks amidst reports that the Registrar General’s office has a backlog of about 50 000 passports which are yet to be processed. Mathema revealed that there is an increasing backlog of passport applications dating back to July 2018.
Briefing the media yesterday in Hwange, Mathema said that the government had suspended the issuance of passports due to the unavailability of foreign currency to procure the needed consumables, including the passport paper.
He added that the registry department owes large sums of money to suppliers of consumables and has ageing machinery. Mathema said:
But what we can promise is that within the next four to five weeks we’ll be able to produce not less than 3 000 passports a day. We have the money, the President had to intervene. Our ultimate target is to produce at least 8 000 a day because of the machinery we are using and the one that is yet to come.
Thus Treasury has already paid US$591 000 to procure three state-of-the-art high capacity printers. Such a development would raise production from the current 3 000 passports a day to 8 000, which matches or equals the current daily production capacity, which translates to clearing the backlog at a rate of approximately 160 000 a month when commissioned.
He also said that the decentralisation of the Registry department is already underway.
More: The Chronicle