Felex Share Senior Reporter—
Delays in the issuance of ordinary passports are being caused by foreign currency shortages, the Registrar-General’s department said yesterday. Registrar-General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede said passport production required “foreign consumables” which are bought using forex. This follows a public outcry over delays in issuance of ordinary passports. A normal passport which costs $53 should be processed within a month, but is taking up to six months. “The current challenge in the delay of ordinary passports issuance is attributed to the unavailability of foreign currency,” Mr Mudede said.
“This has resulted in the delays in getting the needed consumables from the foreign suppliers, since these consumables cannot be sourced locally. If foreign currency is availed in time and we are able to get consumables particularly the secured-passport paper, the department will be in a position to address the delays.”
He added: “Regarding the issuance of passports, the department operates a typical industrial production process involving the use of foreign consumables. “Where all the consumables are availed, the department is able to produce passports within reasonable shorter times.” Mr Mudede said passports in other categories were coming out within the prescribed period.
These include those released within 24 hours, three working days, diplomatic and service passports. Mr Mudede said if resources were availed, his department would not hesitate to work outside normal hours to clear the backlog. “The department will also approach the Civil Service Commission (CSC) for authority to work outside normal working hours to clear the current backlog,” he said.
“The department of the Registrar General remains committed to continue improving on service delivery.” Home Affairs Minister Dr Obert Mpofu on Monday challenged RG’s Office to adhere to stipulated times in releasing travel documents. He said incompetence would not be tolerated.
“There are categories of passports which are supposed to be made known to the public and those categories have a time limit in which a passport has to be issued,” Dr Mpofu said.
“The RG’s Office should therefore ensure that the passports are issued within the agreed period because people pay for these services. We have met officials from the RG’s Office and told them that there should be no unnecessary bureaucracy on issues that affect the public. “We do not condone that, the new administration does not condone any ineptitude on the part of public servants.”