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ePassport Backlog Haunts Government

Registrer engages Garsu Pasaulis to bring in the expertise

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The Registrar-General’s (RG) Office has issued over 350,000 e-passports to date, clearing the national backlog that stood at 200,000 in January, with plans to decentralise the service to four additional district offices and 15 Zimbabwe embassies now at an advanced stage.

Last year, the Government engaged security printing company Garsu Pasaulis to set up modern national biometric infrastructure for the production of a new Zimbabwean e-passport, national identity cards, resident permits and visas under a build, own, operate, transfer model (BOOT), leading to the establishment of the country’s first e-passport centre in Harare.

Since then, e-passport enrolment services have been introduced at eight other centres — Bulawayo, Gweru, Hwange, Lupane, Beitbridge, Chitungwiza, Murehwa, and Chinhoyi — giving renewed impetus to the accelerated issuance of modern travelling documents.

The accelerated issuance of the travel documents means, for the first time in years, Zimbabwe has no passport backlog, fulfilling one of the Second Republic’s signature promises made ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections.

The authorities are now planning to establish additional e-passport centres in Chinhoyi, Marondera, Zvishavane and Mutare.

Similarly, Garsu Pasaulis is presently setting up additional passport centres at the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria and its two consulates in Cape Town and Johannesburg, cities where the authorities have identified as having a high concentration of Zimbabwean citizens.

There are also plans to expand the network of e-passport enrolment centres to Zimbabwean embassies in the United Kingdom, Australia, United Arab Emirates and the United States early next year, to serve the vast Zimbabwean diaspora communities in the countries.

In an interview, Registrar-General Mr Henry Machiri said:

“Since we started the e-passport programme on January 18, I can confirm that we have issued over 350,000 passports. We successfully cleared the passport backlog in September this year.

We asked all those who had applied for passports to go and collect their documents. We are happy with the progress we have made so far, and we are looking forward to expanding the e-passport enrolment programme to all the districts countrywide.

We have plans to expand to Chinhoyi, Marondera, Mutare, going down to all the districts. Besides expanding offices in the country, Government will also be establishing passport enrolment centres at selected embassies across the world.”

This publication has gathered that Garsu Pasaulis now has the capacity to produce more than 5,000 e-passports daily.

An official report detailing the e-passport programme states:

“We are delighted to report that, since the inception of the e-passports project, Garsu Pasaulis has managed to cumulatively produce a total of 352 156 ordinary and express e-passports as at December 3, 2022.

In addition to the above, the company has also produced several diplomatic and service passports on behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe. The company invested in high-end, state-of-the-art passport personalisation machines which are capable of printing over 500 passports per hour.

“Depending on the number of applications received, the company has a production capacity which can enable the printing of more than 5 000 passports per day.”

Decentralisation

It has been established that two passport enrolment centres have been completed in Chinhoyi and Marondera, with renovation and equipping of the requisite information communication technology systems now complete.

“On the other hand, work is now at an advanced stage at the Zvishavane e-passport enrolment centre and the contractor is currently ceased with the renovations which are almost complete,” reads the report.

In addition, the Mutare civil registry building is being reconstructed to facilitate the installation of e-passport systems.

According to the report, the Zimbabwean consulate in Cape Town is undergoing extensive renovations in preparation for the setting up of an e-passport enrolment centre.

“Once the setting up of the e-passport enrolment centre in Cape Town is complete, plans are afoot to commence the renovations at the Zimbabwean embassies in Johannesburg and Pretoria early next year.

“The rollout plan for the embassies will also see Zimbabwean embassies in the United Kingdom, Australia, UAE and the United States of America being equipped to process the e-passport.”

Last week, Garsu Pasaulis won the Digital Infrastructure, Innovation and Technology Award at the Chartered Institute of Project Managers Zimbabwe (CIPMZ) project management achievement awards in recognition of the company’s deployment of innovation and technology to solve one of the country’s longest-running challenge.

Bryan

Person for people. Reader of writings. Writer of readings.

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