By A Correspondent- Zimbabwe has engaged a private company in a bid to solve the passport crisis that has lingered for years now causing headaches to citizens intending to travel.
The government intends to create a national biometric database for citizens and to produce e-passports to enable citizens in the Diaspora to access travel documents from the Zimbabwean embassies where they live.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced Wednesday after the weekly Cabinet meeting that Government was addressing access to documentation challenges.
The partnership with the private company is premised on increasing passport production to four million units in a year. Senator Mutsvangwa said:_Cabinet considered and approved the proposed engagement of a private partner in the implementation of a National Biometric Database for the production of e-passports, national identity cards and birth certificates.__The partnership will increase the passport production capacity to 4 million units per year, resulting not only in the clearance of the current backlog, but also meeting the daily demand and enabling the country’s embassies to issue passports to Zimbabwean citizens abroad._
Zimbabwe is battling to clear a passport backlog of 225 747 with some passports applied for as long ago as March 2019.
The backlog prompted the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage to introduce double shifts (day and night) that will work five days a week.
The office of the Registrar General is also facing challenges in the production of plastic national identity cards, due to a shortage of consumables.
Priority for IDs is being given to high school pupils who need the IDs to sit for public examinations and people with selected emergencies while the rest of applicants are getting “green copy” waiting passes.
The Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Ministry has in the past reiterated that it would soon employ information communication technologies to improve services and reduce human interaction.