Ruth Butaumocho, LUSAKA, Zambia
The Government has intensified efforts to reduce the passport backlog after Treasury came up with a payment plan to suppliers of consumables who are owed an undisclosed amount of money.
In an interview at the sidelines of the ongoing Fifth Conference of African Ministers responsible for civil registration and statistics here, the Registrar General, Clemence Masango who is accompanying the the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Cde Cain Mathema said it would no longer be a question of when, but how soon the backlog would be cleared since all systems were in place.
“The passport situation still remains a matter of concern. The backlog is still on. We are now at 370 000 applications that need to be attended to.
“On a daily basis we receive an average of 1 200 new applications for passports and we are only able to process 800 applications daily. Which means that on our daily requirements, we are unable to process the other 400, a figure that builds on the backlog.
“However Government has since made a payment plan to our supplies, who had withheld services so that they can resume suppliers as soon as possible, “ he said.
Cde Musango said because of the precarious position that the Registrar General’s office was currently in, it was only giving priority to the Diasporan community and those who wanted to travel on health related issues.
“We don’t want our people in the Diaspora to get stranded, hence that decision.”
Cde Masango appealed to the nation to be patient, adding that the passport backlog would be cleared in four months . Masango is among senior government officials from across Africa attending the Fifth Conference of African Ministers Responsible for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics, which ends tomorrow.
The conference was organized by African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA. The conference aims to provide strategic and policy guidance on pathways towards holistic, innovative and integrated civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) and digital identity management systems to help close the identity gap in Africa where more than 500 million people have no legal identity documents such as national identitily cards.