Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The Registrar-General’s Office is set to open passport offices in Chitungwiza and Murehwa districts to deal with the large number of people flocking to Harare to apply for travel documents, legislators heard on Monday.
The office said it had reduced the number of passports that it was producing owing to the shortage of foreign currency required to procure consumables such as ink.
This was said by Registrar-General Mr Clement Masango while giving oral evidence before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs chaired by Umzingwane MP Cde Levi Mayihlome (Zanu-PF).
He said the decision to open passport offices in Chitungwiza and Murehwa was strategic to ease congestion in the capital.
“We have reached an agreement with the local authority,” he said. “Why Chitungwiza? In terms of population size it comes after Bulawayo. That is why the central office in Harare is literally clogged.
“We also intend to set up an office in Murehwa. We have identified Murehwa as a quick win. It can address issues of accessibility from people in Mutoko and other areas.”
Mr Masango said the provincial capital of Mashonaland East province was Marondera which posed a nightmare for people in places like Mutoko and Mudzi districts in terms of accessibilty.
He said they were also planning to open an office at Murambinda Growth Point since the one at Buhera, was no longer adequate for the purpose.
“Many Government offices and service centres are at Murambinda, so for us to remain at Buhera district office means we are no longer responding to the needs of the people,” said Mr Masango.
Mr Masango said they were now processing applications submitted in July last year.
He said if his office was to operate at full throttle and process all the required passports per day, they would run out of consumables owing to resource constraints.
“We queue for foreign currency just like anybody else,” he said. We are being supported, but not to the extent that we would have wanted.”
The parliamentary committee expressed concern over the large number of people without national documents such as birth certificates.
Mr Masango said it was the duty and responsibility of everyone, including legislators, to raise awareness on the need to have such documents.
He said most people were aware of the need to have the documents, but were not treating the issue with the urgency it deserved.
Mr Masango said it was equally sad that most people in rural areas were not acquiring death certificates for their relatives.