Bulawayo Bureau — The Registrar-General's Office has digitalised, a development that will see passport forms being downloaded online among other services, a Cabinet Minister has said. Home Affairs co-minister Kembo Mohadi said this will speed up the processing of passports and temporary travel documents.
He said the development will improve efficiency and reduce time spent queuing for the forms.
The forms would still be available at the offices for those without access to Internet.
"There is now efficiency at the Passport Office because we have managed to get more printers.
"Our staff is doing overtime and passports are being processed every hour to clear the backlog," said Minister Mohadi.
"People will soon be able to download the form and only go to the Passport Office to get a serial number and pay for the document and submit the form.
"The Registrar General's Office has digitalised and soon everything will be very efficient."
An ordinary passport costs US$50 and takes a month while an emergency passport, which takes three days, costs US$250.
Minister Mohadi said although the new system might sound ambitious because most people do not have access to computers, the development would be handy especially for urban passport seekers.
"This is a positive development for urban passport seekers and those with computers who can access the document online.
"Very soon there will be no need to queue at the Registrar General's offices.
"As long as the headquarters is connected, that means all offices countrywide would have the facility," said Minister Mohadi.
Our bureau visited the Bulawayo provincial offices yesterday morning where there were scores of passport seekers.
Those who spoke to our bureau expressed confidence that they would be served as the queue was moving fast.
"I came in the morning to apply for a passport and it is better these days because we do not have to wake up very early or sleep outside the premises as people used to do.
"These days it seems everyone who comes in the morning is attended to," said Mr Mika Mhlanga of Sizinda.
Bulawayo provincial registrar Mrs Jane Peters confirmed that the new system was on the cards.
"We have not yet started although it is coming. I guess we are going to do that soon.
"However, one thing for sure is that we are attending to everybody. Those who were sleeping in the queue outside the premises were doing so by choice because no one was serving them at night," said Mrs Peters.