The office of the Registry General says it is struggling to clear a backlog of passport applications stretching from as far as May this year due to the unavailability of foreign currency to import raw materials used in the production of the travelling documents.
Speaking to journalists in Bulawayo yesterday, Registrar General Clemence Masango said his office normally produces 3000 passports daily but owing to the forex shortages, they have not been able to meet their target resulting in a huge backlog of more than 165 000 passports.
"We are doing our very best to produce passports and we have a backlog from May which means we have to produce 166 500 passports. This figure excludes the number of new applications we receive daily which are an average of 2 100," said Masango.
"We have a capacity to produce about 3 000 passports daily but given the current challenges we are failing to keep up. All passport materials, threads, ink and stationery is sourced from outside the country and like any Government department, we have to rely on forex allocations which are highly competitive."
This has left thousands of people stranded while the affluent ones are being forced to fork out $230 for an emergency application which usually takes a day or two.
Masango also claimed that the country only issues emergency traveling documents to specific countries as others within the SADC region no-longer accept them.
"Emergency travel documents are only issued to those who intend to go to countries like Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique.
"Countries like Botswana and South Africa no longer accept them hence we are no longer issuing them to anyone intending to go there," he said.