Passport offices to be opened in SA

ZIMBABWEANS living in South Africa will soon be able to apply and collect passports and national identity cards in Johannesburg and Cape Town before year-end, as the Government continues to facilitate easy access to civic documents.

Works are underway at the Embassy’s offices in the two cities to provide the service.

The Government is establishing state-of-the-art e-passport enrolment centres across borders to bring convenience to diaspora-based citizens who wish to access national documents.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Registrar-General Mr Henry Machiri said South Africa is the starting point, as e-passport enrolment centres will also be established in several other countries as well.

“e-passport enrolment centres are being established across borders and citizens will benefit by applying whilst in countries that will have these facilities.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage is implementing the e-passport system in South Africa,” he said.

“Renovations to consulate offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town will be completed soon. We are targeting to open the two centres before the end of the year.”

Consul-General at Zimbabwe’s Embassy in Johannesburg Mr Eria Phiri said work to refurbish passport offices in the city were now at an advanced stage.

Upgrades at the Johannesburg offices are expected to be complete by end of this month.

“Renovation and repurposing of the building is now complete and work is going on well. For the consulate office, everything is now ready and we are waiting for the deployment of the information and communication technology infrastructure at the end of this month. The offices will greatly improve the ability of Zimbabweans in South Africa to access their civic documents,” he said.

Meanwhile, RG Machiri said Zimbabweans will soon be able to apply for civic documents online once deployment of the enhanced Zimbabwe Population Registry System (ZPRS) by Government is complete.

Presently, applicants have to come in person to apply for the documents, but ZPRS will link Government offices in real-time, cutting bureaucracy and revolutionising the department’s work. The digital migration will start this month and feed into digital transformation of the Civil Registry Department.

“The digital migration is likely to start end of October 2023. Servers have been installed and configured. Software development for system applications is in progress,” added Mr Machiri.

Online application for national documents, including passports, is being applied in stages and is expected to start early next year.

“The online passport application process is not yet functional. The system is being implemented in phases. We expect to complete implementation of all phases in 12 months.”

At least 14 e-passport offices have been set up countrywide, with more than 100 000 travelling documents having been issued since the introduction of e-passports in January 2022.

“Fourteen e-passport centres have been commissioned so far; out of these, seven are provincial offices and seven are district offices, both with enrolment centres. Three provinces are outstanding and these are Manicaland (Mutare), Mashonaland Central (Bindura) and Masvingo. Work is in progress for the construction of the Mutare building, whilst the other two will be done later,” said RG Machiri.

E-passport applications are now being processed at the Harare passport registry and at provincial and district registry offices in Bulawayo, Gwanda, Gweru, Lupane, Marondera, Beitbridge, Chitungwiza, Hwange, Mazowe, Murewa, Zvishavane, Chinhoyi and Guruve.

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