Sunday Mail Correspondent
THE Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage has dismissed as fake news, reports circulating on social media advising people who applied for passports from February 2019 that their travel documents were ready for collection at the Registrar General’s Office.
In a statement yesterday, the Ministry said passport applicants will be advised through official communication channels when their documents have been processed.
“The attention of the Civil Registry Department and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage has been drawn to the fake news “advising” persons who applied for passports between 2019 and February 2020 to collect their documents at the Makombe offices, from Monday 15 March 2021.
“The message originated from a fake Facebook page under the name Makombe Passport Office Official and was signed off by a Joshua Taderera purporting to be a “passport official”.
“We dissociate ourselves from the fake Facebook page, its communication about passports collection and any of its individuals claiming to be acting on behalf of the Civil Registry Department.
“This is not true and any information from the Facebook post is not authentic.”
The Civil Registry Department is working to clear the passport backlog and collection of passports will be done in compliance with Covid-19 regulations.
“The Civil Registry Department is working round the clock to clear the passport backlog and any communication regarding the collection of passports by applicants will be communicated through official communication channels and through the Short Message Service (SMS) platform.
“We urge citizens to rely on official sources of credible information and exercise caution before sharing unverified communication on social media platforms, which not only mislead but potentially prejudice citizens of their hard-earned cash,” said the Ministry.
The Registrar General’s office is battling a huge passport backlog running into hundreds of thousands of overdue travel documents.
Last year, the RG’s office reduced the passport backlog by 20 percent, taking advantage of a lull in new applications due to Covid-19 restrictions that limited travel to the offices.
Before the lockdown, production of passports had been seriously affected by increasing applications and foreign currency shortages.
The office managed to produce 83 379 passports during the first two months of the lockdown period.
The department has also not been taking new applications.