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More than 600,000 e-passports issued to date

by Staff reporter
23 Jul 2023 at 08:05hrs | Views
THE Civil Registry Department (CRD) has issued more than 600 000 electronic passports since last year, clearing the 200 000-backlog accumulated from 2019 with women having acquired more of the travelling document than their male counterparts.

The developments where 674 200 e-passports have been issued so far have been made possible through a sustained momentum in the achievement of decentralisation and computerisation of sub-offices for easy accessibility by citizens as well as dealing with all bureaucratic bottlenecks that existed before.

The department is also working around the clock to continue smoothening the process of acquiring identity and travel documents as well as shutting out corrupt tendencies and improving efficiency. The country witnessed a ballooning passport backlog during the Covid-19 period but the issuance of electronic passports that began in January last year at the instigation of the Second Republic witnessed a positive movement that feeds into the country's thrust of modernising and digitalising the economy.

The launch of the e-passport and the state-of-the-art passport enrolment centre, is in line with the Government's vision to strategically invest in key areas of the economy largely viewed as a way of keeping pace with the dynamic technological environment.

"The department has issued a total of 674 200 e-passports from the period 18 January 2022 to 13 July 2023. In terms of gender, we received 353 094 applications from females and 321 106 from males," said Registrar General Mr Henry Machiri.

Responding to questions from Sunday News, Mr Machiri said the department was implementing various measures to improve service delivery and bring it closer to the communities. He said the department was doing this through further decentralising services as well as computerising sub-offices.

"The department has so far decentralised the e-passport services to seven provincial offices namely Harare, Bulawayo, Midlands, Matebeleland North, Matebeleland South, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland East. In addition to provincial offices, the services have also been decentralised to six districts that is Murewa, Chitungwiza, Hwange, Beitbridge, Zvishavane and Mazowe," said Mr Machiri.

He said plans were currently underway to decentralise the e-passport to Chipinge and Mwenezi districts this year adding that they were going to computerise 20 sub-offices by year end.

"In an effort to improve service delivery, the department has plans to computerise sub offices starting with 20 by end of year.

This initiative will capacitate sub-offices to issue computerised documents and will go a long way in decongesting district offices and bringing the service closer to the communities," said Mr Machiri.

A snap survey carried out by Sunday News in Bulawayo revealed that there were significant improvements in the issuance of passports. At the Provincial Registry, passport applicants expressed gratitude on the improved service delivery.

"I came to collect my passport, I got a message after five days of submitting my application. I got here at 9 am and it did not take me an hour, I had collected it," said Miss Prudence Siwela.

The CRD is also implementing the active notification for community births and deaths by traditional leaders with an engagement workshop having been held last week by the Council of Chiefs and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

"The department is working towards capacitation of traditional leaders to give notice of births and deaths that would have occurred in their communities. This is coming from the realisation that members of the public especially in rural communities have been incurring costs to transport witnesses to registry offices.

"Capacitation of traditional leaders will result in them issuing births and deaths confirmation records which will serve the same purpose as confirmation records issued at health facilities and will be used for registration purposes. Once active notification is implemented, there will be no need for parents and relatives to bring witnesses to registration offices in case of community births and deaths since the information would have been recorded by the village head," said Mr Machiri.

At Umguza District registry housed at Tredgold Building, an applicant Mr Mehleli Dube, however, said the department needed to work at improving efficiency in the issuance of national identity documents.

"The process went well, but I think there is need for improvements so that we are not booked and given a later date. I came last week and was given a date which is today. If only they can improve efficiency so that you are able to walk in and walk out with your document in a single day," said Mr Dube.

Source - The Sunday News