BY METHEMBE SIBANDA
HUNDREDS of passport seekers across the country have been left stranded at the Registrar-General’s (RG) office following an alleged breakdown of machines used to produce the newly-introduced e-passports.
When NewsDay visited RG’s offices in Harare yesterday, hundreds of people were milling around outside.
A source at the RG’s Office said while government disputed that processing of passports had been halted, they had stopped producing the e-passports last week.
“There is no paper and the contractors contracted to produce the e-passports have not been paid,” the source said.
Registrar-General Henry Machiri yesterday issued a statement confirming that they were experiencing challenges.
“The Civil Registry Department wishes to inform its valued clients and stakeholders that the department is currently experiencing challenges in the issuance of vital civil registration and travel documents due to a technical fault,” Machiri said.
This is despite government trying to downplay the problem saying it was caused by a technical fault at the CBZ Bank.
“We have noted a news article circulating on social media, suggesting that the processing of the Zimbabwean e-passports has been put on hold indefinitely. This is incorrect. We would like to categorically state that the new e-passport is being processed,” Information and Publicity ministry secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana tweeted.
“There was a glitch in the processes in that the CBZ banking system was offline due to a technical fault, which has since been rectified. We, therefore, confirm that this temporary disruption to the passport enrolment has been dealt with.”
When NewsDay visited the passport offices yesterday, an officer, however, told the jittery crowd that the e-passport system was down.
“We do not know when we will resume the process. Keep watching for information on television,” the official at the RG’s Office said.
A passport seeker, Vivian Moyo, said she had been going to RG’s Offices since last week, but was told that the machines were down.
“I need the passport urgently to travel to the United Kingdom,” another passport seeker told NewsDay.
Since January this year, a total of 140 000 e-passports have reportedly been issued.