Government has introduced day and night shifts in order to produce at least 9 000 passports per day to clear a backlog that has reached the 226 000 mark.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe revealed this while responding to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services.
He was speaking on government policy decisions being taken to reduce the backlog on the provision of primary identity documents and travel documents.
Kazembe, however, said shortages of consumables were affecting efforts to clear the backlogs and issuing of documents.
“Currently, we have a backlog of 225 747 (passports), dating back to March 2019. The backlog has been accumulating due to shortage of consumables which require foreign currency,” he said.
He said to overcome the backlog, government had on April 26 introduced a double shift working programme.
“The programme consists of the day and night shift. The night shift operates from 2000hrs to 0400hrs whilst the day shift operates from 0800hrs to 1600hrs.
“The two shifts will be working five (5) days a week excluding weekends. The strategy is aimed at clearing the passport backlog.”
He said the double shift programme would see the ministry producing between 4 000 and 4 500 passports a day.
“The expected daily output for the day shift will be between 2 000 and 2 500 whilst the expected output for the night shift will be 2 000,” he said.
The minister said treasury had committed to avail funds for the procurement of additional equipment to complement the existing machinery.
“Procurement of additional equipment and consumables will increase the production capacity from 4 500 to 9 000 thereby reducing the turn-around time for the clearance of the backlog.
“These measures will see the Ministry being able to meet the current demand for passports while ensuring that the backlog does not occur,” he said.
Kazembe also told parliamentarians that registry offices across Zimbabwe were operational and issuing of Births and Deaths Certificates.
He said clients were being served in batches in an effort to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines while containing the pandemic.
No challenges are being encountered on Marriages, Brands and Citizenship Provision services, he said.
Kazembe, however, revealed that some registry offices have since stopped issuance of polythene-synthetic IDs resorting to issuance of Green Copy Waiting Pass.
“This has resulted from shortage of consumables and non-payment of licences and dongles which require foreign currency. To address the situation, my Ministry is planning to conduct a national mobile registration exercise once all logistics are in place,” he said.
He said government had been forced to limit the number of applicants for polythene-synthetic IDs with priority being given to high school students and urgent cases.
“Treasury has however, committed to facilitate payment for consumables, licences and dongles in order to address the situation as soon as possible,” Kazembe said.
Government recently reviewed passport fees in a bid to improve the production of the travel document.