Cabinet approves e-passport design Minister Monica Mutsvangwa

Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
CABINET has approved the design of an e-passport whose security features meet international standards at a time when the country has a backlog of 184 000 passports which Government hopes to have cleared by year end.

Addressing journalists during a post Cabinet media briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage has started renovating registry offices countrywide, starting with Bulawayo and Harare.

Government contracted Garsu Pasaulis, a Lithuanian Company to work on the e-passport Production Project under a build, own, operate and transfer agreement in a bid to address challenges that exist in production of national documents.

Most citizens are having difficulties in accessing national documents and this has seen some people sleeping in queues.

Minister Mutsvangwa said notable progress has been made in the digital migration of the Registrar General’s Office.

“Significant progress has been registered as follows: Approval of the final design of the Zimbabwean e-passport which will be fully compliant with the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

“Commencement of renovations at the Harare Passport Enrolment Centre, at the Civil Registry Building on the 18th of October 2021 while the Bulawayo Passport Enrolment Centre will commence on the 27th of October                        2021. After the completion of these two sites, focus will then be shifted to other remaining cities, satellite centres and designated Embassies.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said the interventions are expected to lead to the reduction in passport fees by December, 2021.

She said the registry has managed to reduce the passport backlog by almost 200 000 and expects to have cleared it by year end.

“The nation will recall that during its 9th meeting, Cabinet approved a strategy by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage to clear the country’s passport backlog that had accumulated to over 400 000 by August 2020. It is pleasing to note that the backlog has since been reduced to the current 184 000.

“It is anticipated that the backlog would have been cleared by the end of December 2021,” she said.

Turning to the education sector, Minister Mutsvangwa said non-compliance to Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in schools has been blamed for new Covid-19 infections being recorded in learning institutions.

“Movement of boarders during the term time as well as general non-compliance with the SOP for the prevention and management of Covid-19 and other influenza-like illnesses in the Primary and Secondary Education sector has contributed to outbreaks in schools,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

“It has been observed that some private schools are not fully observing provisions of the Education Act as evidenced by the continued practice of allowing parents to withdraw boarders from school for exeat weekend or for half term school breaks during the pandemic, and that enforcement of the Public Health Act on such unsanctioned movement of learners during the pandemic will be evoked and strengthened.” – @nqotshili

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