Biometric passport issuance underway in Zimbabwe, digital IDs from April
The issuance of new generation biometric passports has started in some provinces of Zimbabwe and there are plans to extend the production infrastructure to all ten provinces of the country by June this year, Zim Live reports.
The outlet cites the country’s Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe, who has also announced that a mobile campaign to enroll citizens for digital ID cards and birth certificates has been scheduled to begin from next month.
Kazembe has instructed that the issuance office in the capital Harare be henceforth open on Saturdays in order to meet demands of the growing number of applicants, and a new center has been opened in Bulawayo as part of efforts to reduce congestion, notes Zim Live.
“The process of setting up the infrastructure for the issuance of e-passports has now been taken to Hwange and Lupane, in Matabeleland North province. This shall be followed by a similar exercise to the remaining seven provincial offices, which should be up and running by June 30,” the Home Affairs boss is quoted as saying.
The infrastructure Kazembe refers to include equipment and software for biometrics enrollment, in line with ICAO standards.
Speaking about the special campaign for ID cards and birth certificates, Kazembe said the goal is to enable many citizens secure these documents which are the primary documents needed for the establishment of a passport. The special campaign will run from April to September this year.
“I take great pleasure to inform the nation that the Civil Registry department will be embarking on a nationwide mobile registration exercise from April 1, 2022, to September 30, 2022. The exercise will mainly focus on the issuance of births and death certificates and national identity documents,” Zim Live quotes Kazembe as saying.
The rush for the new passports is apparently triggered by the government decision to phase out the old format passports from next year.
Meanwhile, as the issuance gets underway, authorities say the online booking system has been set up and applications and payments can be processed entirely online, writes Sunday Mail.
This has been facilitated by the opening of an Express Passport Office Center in Harare which can issue the travel document within 48 hours from the time of application, the report notes.
Sunday Mail quotes Terence Mutemararo, manager of the Express Center, as saying the main objective of putting in place such a system is to “bring convenience to those who need emergency passports.”
“The major purpose of the online booking is to decongest this place and make sure that people come at their accorded time slots. It is capable of serving 20 people every 20 minutes given the number of booths we have and the number of people serving inside,” adds Mutemararo.
The new generation biometric passport system for Zimbabwe was announced in August last year, but was greeted with controversy over choice of the contractor. The Sunday Mail also names Lithuania’s Garsu Pasaulis as a technology supplier for the travel ID document.