Bulawayo starts issuing new passport, Harare registry to open on Saturdays

BULAWAYO – Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe on Wednesday ordered the Harare passport office to open on Saturdays as he launched the new passport centre in Bulawayo.

Kazembe said opening the Harare registry on Saturday would help clear long queues which are a common feature.

He said part of the efforts to decongest the Harare passport office included decentralising the issuance of passports as Bulawayo became the second centre to receive the machines for printing the redesigned passport booklets.

“The roll out of the e-passport project… will be cascaded to other provincial and district centres,” Kazembe said, speaking in Bulawayo.

“The process of setting up the infrastructure for the issuance of e-passports has now been taken to Hwange and Lupane, in Matabeleland North province. This shall be followed by a similar exercise to the remaining seven provincial offices, which should be up and running by June 30.”

The government announced that the old passport booklets would be phased out at the end of 2023 after it signed a deal with corruption-linked Lithuanian company Garsu Pasaulis to produce the new passports, which the government says have enhanced security features.

“Zimbabwe is a member of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which requires that member states take necessary measures to ensure the integrity, authenticity and security of travel and identity documents. The introduction of the new generation e-passport is therefore, fully compliant with ICAO standards and has enhanced security features to abate fraudulent activities,” Kazembe said.

“These key features include: an electronic cover with a chip; personal data of the holder; each page of the passport chronicles a story about Zimbabwe’s rich cultural heritage and major tourist attractions; and a security thread fully embedded in the inner booklet pages.”

Pride of space … Passport application fees are paid at a CBZ branch located at the passport office in Bulawayo

Kazembe said the rollout of passport services to all provinces and districts would ensure that “the long queues that have been witnessed at passport
offices will soon be a thing of the past.”

“My ministry is also working on plans to establish an online passport application system for the convenience of the general public,” Kazembe added.

Meanwhile, the minister revealed that a mobile national identity card issuing programme will run from April to September.

“We cannot talk about e-passports without mentioning the initial source documents used in the processing of passports which are birth certificates and national identity documents,” Kazembe said.

“According to the constitution of Zimbabwe, every person has a right to legal identity. My ministry, through the Civil Registry department therefore, has a constitutional obligation to ensure that every eligible person is bestowed with legal identity.

“In that vein, I take great pleasure to inform the nation that the Civil Registry department will be embarking on a nationwide mobile registration exercise from April 1, 2022, to September 30, 2022. The exercise will mainly focus on the issuance of births and death certificates and national identity documents.

“In addition to mobile teams, all static registration offices will remain operational during this period. I therefore, urge all members of the public to take advantage of this opportunity to be fully registered.”

Garsu Pasaulis managing director Chukri Assal attended the launch of the refurbished passport centre.

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