Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
The Registrar-General’s Office has resumed issuing emergency passports and rubbished reports that it had run out of paper to print passports owing to foreign currency shortages.
The office suspended the issuing of emergency passports last week to clear a backlog of over 2 000 passports.
Members of the public who were seeking the emergency travelling documents were forced to apply for the “normal” passport, which costs $53.
An emergency passport, which takes 24 hours to be processed costs $318, while the one for three days costs $253.
In an interview, Registrar-General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede said his office started accepting applications for emergency 24-hour passports yesterday.
“We had a slight problem. Like I said before the problem involved our backlog which was now going beyond four months. I won’t go into details on why, but from yesterday (Monday) we started accepting passports with a waiting time of three days and those applications are online today (Tuesday),” he said.
“Tomorrow (yesterday) starting in the morning we will be accepting those applications for 24 hours. We are quite happy that it did not take us a very long time, but we continue to battle with our backlog. Leave that one to us.”
He said his office was serious in discharging its duties and wanted the public to be happy. Mr Mudede said everything was normalising and urgent passports will be processed within the requested time.
“When we say within 24 hours what we mean is that, within that period if you are leaving on a plane and you come to us crying for an urgent passport we can produce it in 30 minutes which is within the 24 hours,” he said.
He denied the reports that his office had run out of passport paper saying, “Who told them that. I never said that. People postulate. People say a lot of things and this comes again back to the question of the metal identity card.”
Mr Mudede denied saying the metal ID was going to be outlawed saying he only encouraged people to take advantage of the mobile registration to replace their metal ID cards.
“When I was saying replacement, I meant those with a very old metal ID which is no longer easy to read because it has overstayed its time. You give us that one we replace it. You give us the piece of paper that waiting pass, which is green in colour with a picture that has been destroyed or has been defaced and cannot be seen properly it cannot be read so we can replace it,” he said.
“People talk about the plastic ID. We don’t talk about plastic. We talk about the synthetic one which is pretty strong. I don’t know why people went on rampage on the issue of the metal ID saying Mudede has abolished this, I never did.”
Mr Mudede advised people with metal IDs to have them replaced saying his office was ready to deal with a large number of people in the country seeking to do so.