The passport crisis at the Registrar General’s (RGs) office seems to be deteriorating unabated as a recent survey suggests that only 250 people are getting assistance on a daily basis. This is against a national demand of 3 000.
The Sunday Mail conducted an interview with Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister, Cain Mathema, who revealed that the country is facing challenges in securing raw material to process the travel documents. Mathema added that US$600 000 has since been availed by Treasury towards the purchase of passport printers. He said:
The public should not panic (over the passport issue).
There is shortage of the special imported paper, ink and other raw materials used for passport printing.
We are working on it. Yes, we have been facing some challenges, but I would want to assure passport applicants that we will overcome this challenge.
The Sunday Mail also observed that passport seekers are sleeping in queues at the RG’s office in Harare so as to apply for the travel documents. Unfortunately, the office is reportedly assisting only 12 people daily on average.
The backlog at the RG’s office goes back to 2018. The office is reported to be prioritising passports that are for emergency purposes, for people seeking medical attention outside the country and for those on diplomatic or national duty.
This publication reported a few days ago that some officers are demanding huge kickbacks from passport seekers. Officials are reported to be charging US$4 000 bribes for emergency passports and US$200 for ordinary passports.
More: The Sunday Mail