BY RUMBIDZAYI NGWENYA

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, pictured, says the new e-passport launched yesterday by the government will eradicate backlogs at the Registrar General’s Office and stem organised crime. 

The new e-passport comes with key features which include an electronic cover with a chip, a security thread fully embedded in the inner booklet pages, as well as unique pages, each chronicling a story about Zimbabwe’s rich cultural heritage and major tourist attractions. 

The project is being spearheaded by the Home Affairs ministry in partnership with Lithuanian printing company — Garsu Pasaulis UAB. 

Production of the new documents would begin next year with the government now equipped with a capacity to print 20 000 to 30 000 e-passports daily.

At the same time, the old passport will remain valid until December 31, 2023 with current holders expected to revert to the e-passport by then. 

The new e-passport would cost US$100 for an ordinary application while an express application will cost US$200. 

“The production of e-passports heralds our entry as a nation, into the modern era of smart technology in travel and identification documents,” Mnangagwa said. 

“The programme is further in conformity with the dictates of regional and international conventions, protocols and treaties that our country is party to, particularly those relating to issuance of civil and travel documents.  

“The International Civil Aviation Organisation Convention requires that member states take measures to ensure the integrity, authenticity and security of travel and identity documents. 

“As such, the partnership with Garsų Pasaulis UAB will ensure that we meet the required standards in the production of passports. It also assists in our migration to digital, machine-readable e-passports to eradicate the incidence of document counterfeiting.” 

Mnangagwa also said the biggest impact of the new e-passport will be the key security features and service delivery. 

“Once implementation of the biometric system goes full throttle, we will begin to witness increased production of not just e-passports, but also national identity cards, birth certificates, entry visas as well as residence permits,” he said.  

“The era of long queues and corrupt tendencies in the issuance of vital civil registration documents, is indeed coming to an end.  

“The new passport enrolment centre format will be replicated across all passport offices countrywide and at our diplomatic missions abroad. Passport application processes will therefore be more convenient and easily accessible.” 

Mnangagwa added that an online passport application system was also set to be introduced, to allow applications and payment for the documents from the comfort of one’s home. 

“The physical appearances at registry offices will only be required for biometrics. These achievements, by my government, will undoubtedly contribute to enhanced public service delivery as well as the overall developmental trajectory of the country,” he said. 

A massive national mobile registration exercise will be rolled out commencing the second quarter of 2022 to issue primary documents.  

This exercise has been timed to coincide with voter registration in readiness for the 2023 harmonised general elections, Mnangagwa added. – Daily News