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e-passport centres to increase to 14

by Staff reporter
22 Aug 2022 at 07:08hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has said e-passport bio-enrolment centres in the country will be increased to 14 next month while plans are underway to launch similar services in Zambia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Australia and in the Middle East.

Already, work has started in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town as part of efforts by Government to assist citizens in the neighbouring country to acquire the documents.

Currently e-passports are issued in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Hwange, Lupane and Beitbridge and Murehwa. The ultimate goal is to have a facility in each of the country's 59 districts.

The President launched the new secure electronic passport at Chiwashira Building in Harare in December last year. Zimbabwe is one of the few countries in Africa producing e-passports.

The electronic passport is in line with the global shift towards biometric data-based identity and travel documents.

An e-passport contains an electronic chip, which holds the same information that is printed on the passport's data page, which include the holder's name, date of birth and other biographic information.

The document also contains a biometric identifier. All of these features are designed to protect citizens from identity theft. E-passports also allow for faster passage through transit at your home border post.

Writing in his weekly column in the Chronicle's sister papers, the Sunday News and Sunday Mail, President Mnangagwa said pursuant to the Constitution and pledge by his administration, Government has taken several steps to decentralising services and bringing core services closer to citizens and communities.

He said Government is rolling out various measures to help fulfil the critical Constitutional obligations.

"Our eyes are now trained on availability of passports and other travel documents, both to citizens here at home and to those living in the diaspora.

Through an inventive panoply of measures, we have now taken, I am confident all the rights and benefits related to citizen documentation as promised by Chapter 3 of our Constitution will be efficiently met and delivered to our citizens," he said.

"The measures we have taken include introducing e-passports which are cheaper, faster and which incorporate international features and standards as recommended by the United Nations."

President Mnangagwa said the decentralisation of the service to all district centres in the country, is a process which he started when he recently launched the e-passport bio-enrolment centre in Murehwa.

"As I write, seven other centres which include Beitbridge, Hwange, Bulawayo, Lupane, Gweru among others, are already issuing e-passport.

By the end of September this year, we expect the number of such service centres to rise to 14, with the momentum being maintained until all the districts are covered," he said.

"We are extending such services to Zimbabwe's key embassies and consulates in countries where large communities of Zimbabweans living abroad are found.

Already, work has started in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town, so the large community of Zimbabwean emigres living there will be served."

He said the country has made significant progress in fulfilling the Constitutional requirement to make civic documents like birth certificates, IDs and passports easily accessible to the public.

"Plans are underway to launch similar outreach services in Lusaka, Zambia, in London, United Kingdom, in Washington and New York in USA, in Australia and in the Middle East.

Such facilities will respond to needs ardently expressed by Zimbabweans living abroad whom I had the pleasure to meet and interact with during my various fixtures abroad," said President Mnangagwa.

Prior to the latest development, the President said such services remained largely "centralised in favour of metropolitan provinces, cities and towns at the expense of historically marginalised rural provinces, districts, wards and villages".

President Mnangagwa said he is personally aware of the challenges in accessing passports after he made unscheduled visits to the offices of the Registrar-General.

The subsequent interventions made by Government have resulted in e-passport services being spread to centres such as Beitbridge, Hwange, Bulawayo, Lupane and Gweru, among others.

"We resolved the matter through a series of decisions which, among other measures, simplified requirements for issuance of documents; measures which brought the service closer to communities through mobile registration and issuance units, and through decentralisation and making the registration process free," said President Mnangagwa.

To date, millions of people in rural areas have been able to acquire birth certificates and national identity cards due to an ongoing blitz implemented by the Registrar-General's Office.

He said families in communities affected by post-independence disturbances, commonly known as Gukurahundi, had endured and lived through, pain which continued to manifest through their failure to access these key national documents.

Source - The Herald