Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
THE Registrar General’s (RG’s) Office has said it is issuing emergency passports only due to foreign currency challenges that are still crippling its operations.
The registry offices reopened last week after it had scaled down operations following a spike in Covid-19 infections which culminated in President Mnangagwa imposing a Level Four national lockdown.
President Mnangagwa last week relaxed lockdown regulations to Level Two.
This prompted scores of people seeking national documents to throng the registry offices.
As a result, long winding queues have become the order of the day as citizens decry failure to obtain passports and national IDs.
In an interview, acting Registrar General Mr Henry Machiri said while his department is now fully operational, it was providing limited services due to shortage of resources.
He said the RG’s Office was not facing any problems when it comes to issuing birth certificates.
“When it comes to passports and IDs, it’s unfortunate that there is a different scenario which my minister and permanent secretary have alluded to before. It’s an issue of resources. The materials are not enough. So, we have to limit it so that we look at the urgency. We are serving the most urgent and when we get more resources, we will open up for more citizens to come and get documentation,” said Mr Machiri.
At the moment the registry is only issuing the US$318 emergency passport.
He said they were hoping to get allocations from Treasury.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe recently said due to foreign currency challenges the registry cannot attend to all the registration demands.
Documentation seekers who were queuing at the passport office last Friday lamented challenges they were facing in submitting their applications.
Mr Oliver Khupe from Cowdray suburb said the registry had not made the criteria on who gets served first.
“I came here at 4:55AM just to submit a passport application for my wife. She works in South Africa and has to renew her work permit and without a new passport she won’t. We feel bad because yesterday we were here,” said Mr Khupe.
“From 4:55AM there isn’t any hope of being attended to. We can only feel better if they communicate with us. If we are not informed and just dumped like this, it ends up leading to people blaming the Government whereas the problem might be caused by individuals. There is a need for better communication between us and them.”
Another resident, Mr Eugene Ndlovu from Barham Green said he was also queuing to submit forms for his South African based relative.
Mr Ndlovu said the RG’s Office was prioritising those who submitted applications last year.
“I came here at 4AM but they are selecting individuals whose forms date back to January 2020. My application is for July 2021 so I think that is why I haven’t been selected today. I’m here to submit a form for someone whose passport is about to expire hence they need to regularise their stay in the neighbouring country,” said Mr Ndlovu.
Some of residents said the registry should state the category of people who are being served so that those who are not eligible do not waste time visiting the offices.
Minister Kazembe Kazembe recently told Chronicle that digital transformation of the Civil Registry Department would be completed by the end of December and will contribute to improved access to national documents.
Government partnered with a private partner to transform the registry into a modern department and would create a national biometric database for citizens and production of e-passports.
The deal is expected to enable diaspora-based citizens to acquire national documents including passports from where they are based.The country is working to clear a passport backlog of 225 747 [email protected]