CHITUNGWIZA now has its own Passport Office after Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe yesterday officially opened the Chitungwiza Central Registry.
Notwithstanding thr backlogs at the main Passport Offce in Harare, the developments come as a relief to residents of Chitungwiza and surrounding rural areas who had to travel to Harare or Marondera for passport services.
According to Government spokesperson Nick Ndabaningi Mangwana, the issuance of passports had been restricted to the 10 provincial towns for many years.
“With devolution and other reforms initiated by President Mnangagwa’s administration, services have now been brought closer to the people. Folks from Seke rural, Mahusekwa benefit,” said Mangwana.
But the joy might be shortlived for the Chitungwiza folks and there is a bigger fish to fry: insufficient financial resources has been a tired song at the Central Registry.
Kazembe recently said a comprehensive strategy had put in place to deal with the issue of outstanding passports.
He said although funds that had initially been raised for this purpose had been channeled towards fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, Treasury was working on making more funds available.
“The Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube is now seized with the matter to avail the funds and we will be able to clear the passport backlog,” he said last month.
“I am happy that we managed to do 200 000 passports during the lockdown period so our backlog has actually come down significantly, but we also take note that no one was applying. I hope the Ministry of Finance will soon avail the funds for us to buy some consumables and machinery as well.”
Kazembe said he was confident that Government would deal with bottlenecks that have been limiting production of travel documents.
For the past few years, the passport backlog has been growing and before the lockdown, production had been seriously affected by increasing applications and foreign currency shortages.
In Manicaland alone, applications for passports had gone up to 50 000 by the time the Registrar’s office stopped taking new ones. – Zimbabwe Voice ■