By NQOBANI NDLOVU
GOVERNMENT has awarded a tender to an unnamed private company to print citizens’ identification (ID) cards and passports under a build operate and transfer (BOT) agreement in a bid to ease the current backlog, NewsDay Weekender has learnt.
The Registry Department is battling to clear a passport backlog of over 200 000 units, owing to, among others, lack of foreign currency to import printing materials.
At present, the department is printing an average of 2 000 passports per day against its capacity of nearly 8 000 documents.
Recently, the government announced new fees with an ordinary passport now pegged at US$60, a three-day passport US$200 and US$318 for an emergency 24-hour passport or the Zimbabwean dollar equivalent at the prevailing exchange rate.
Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe on Wednesday told Parliament that apart from decentralising the issuance of passports, government had also engaged a private company to produce the documents.
“Government recently approved the engagement of a private company on a BOT arrangement which is going to, not only issue passports, but also issue birth certificates and ID’s. Indeed, they are going to deploy an integrated solution… So, in our view, this is the solution to our problems,” he said.
Kazembe was responding to Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (Zanu PF)’s question on government plans to ensure Zimbabweans have access to identity documents and passports.
“I want to say this initiative by the government is going to end all these troubles because this company has done this in more than 25 countries and they have offered to do this to Zimbabwe. The government of Zimbabwe is not paying anything for it; they will recover their money from the revenue that they will collect from the passport,” he said.
In April, Kazembe caused the arrest of a passport tout who solicited a US$30 bribe to assist him jump a queue at the Harare Passport Office, exposing deep-seated corruption at the Registrar-General’s Office.
“Over and above the issuance of birth certificates straight from the birth places, it would also mean that people will be able to apply for passports from the comfort of their homes because this is a sophisticated system which is used the world over where applications are done real-time and online and people are only invited to the Passport Office for their biometric characteristics to be captured,” Kazembe added.
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