Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Reporter
THE Government has taken advantage of the Covid-19 necessitated national lockdown to reduce the passport backlog by 50 percent, a Cabinet Minister has revealed.
Addressing journalists after a briefing with officials from the Immigration office in Bulawayo, Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural heritage, Cde Kazembe Kazembe revealed that while they were still working on modalities to resume issuance of documentations they had since managed to print 200 000 passports since the commencement of the lockdown in March.
“This Covid-19 pandemic caught us off guard even treasury was affected but when we started operations our officials took advantage of this to work on clearing the passport backlog. We have since managed to print over 200 000 copies which is 50 percent of what was lagging behind.
“Further, people should be made aware that printing passports is not just a process which is done overnight, I hear some people saying that we must get the material locally but that is not possible because passport printing is something that is controlled internationally hence we have to import most of the printing material but our officials are working round the clock to further reduce the backlog,” said Cde Kazembe.
The Minister further revealed that they were working on integrating systems within all the points of entry and immigration officials so as to bolster security.
He said the integrated system will see immigration officials, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Interpol and even the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority being able to access information on unified system.
“Right now we have a situation where these various bodies all want to install their own Closed Circuit Television cameras, for example, in the new system we want all these arms of the state to work as one, such that when a wanted traveler produces their passport at one desk it immediately is detected by all the other authorities.
“This system will go a long way in improving security and efficiency within our points of entry and goes towards the issue of ensuring that we are able to provide e-service, which is now the global trend,” said the Minister.