Zimbabwe Finalises Online Border Management System

16 March 2023

Travelling Zimbabweans will soon spend no more than a few seconds at immigration desks at all border posts as Government finalises the online border management system.

Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said smart gates are being installed at all entry points by the immigration department. Using the e-passport travellers will scan their passports at the smart gate without talking to anyone.

The e-passport has an electronic cover with a chip containing the holder's information and data.

Speaking during the launch of the e-passport and bio-enrolment centre in Mazowe yesterday, Minister Kazembe said the Government has adopted digital innovation for the benefit of Zimbabweans.

Besides the cutting edge technology in passports, his ministry was ensuring that all Zimbabweans could easily claim and use the documents they were entitled to have.

The civil registrar offices issued over three million documents to Zimbabwe during the mobile civil registration exercise surpassing a target of two million.

"The cascading of e-passports to the district is a result of increasing demand for travel documents. Citizens continue to transverse international borders in pursuit of new opportunities," he said.

"Over the years passport issuance was restricted to 10 provincial officers and this resulted in congestion. In response, the Government took a deliberate stance to improve service delivery through decentralisation of e-passports."

Mazowe becomes the 6th district to have an e-passport centre while six provinces have been covered so far.

Minister Kazembe said Zimbabwe is a member of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) requires member states to take stern measures in ensuring the authenticity, integrity, and security of travel and identity documents.

"The new generation e-passport is fully compliant with ICAO standards and has enhanced features to eliminate fraudulent activities," he said.

"Each page of the passport chronicles a story about Zimbabwe's major tourist attraction and rich cultural heritage."

Minister Kazembe said the opening of an e-passport centre in Mazowe is in line with President Mnangagwa's mantra that services must be accessible to everyone. Prior, people in the province travelled from as far as Kanyemba to Harare to obtain a passport.Mazowe district has the largest population among the other seven districts in its province and it is surrounded by farms.

"The Second Republic is leaving no one and no place behind. Another centre will be established in Bindura once the construction of the registrar general's offices is done," he said.

"We have plans to build modern civil registration offices. Currently, we have new offices here in Mazowe and Guruve. Mazowe is central hence the decision to start here.

"Everyone has a right to legal identity and the civil registration is working flat out to ensure that people obtain documents to enable them to register as voters."

People in Mazowe were excited to be the first district in the province to have an e-passport centre.

With a varied population that included immigrants from neighbouring countries coming to work on mines and farms, and their Zimbabwean-born descendants who can be legal citizens by birth, Mrs Mostafa Kina Kondo said the majority have identity documents indicating "Alien."

"This was the dilemma of many of our people whose parents and grandparents migrated from other countries. We thank President Mnangagwa who has lessened the requirements for such people to obtain identity documents," she said.

"It was a nightmare for people here to obtain a passport and worse for those in the periphery areas like Kanyemba and Mukumbura. One would plan the journey and sometime go back several times.

"We thank the Government for delivering its promises to the people. This means that the majority of our people will obtain passports and cross the borders in search of indigenisation."

Mrs Esnath Kanyange managed to renew her passport and said the process was efficient.

"It is a walking distance from home to get to the passport office. This was unheard of because before getting a passport was an antagonising task," she said.

Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Dr Monica Mavhunga represented by the Director of Economic Affairs and Investment Mr Levi Katambarare said the province had long awaited the opening of the e-passport centre.

She said the decentralisation of civil registration is in line with the Government's devolution agenda which seeks to empower communities.

"Cascading of such critical departments to the people is key in attaining an upper middle-class economy by 2030. I urge civil registry officials to continue working hard to give our citizens quality and effective service," she said.

Registrar General Mr Henry Machiri said civil registration provides the most reliable source of data and is central to the country's developmental process.

He said the decentralisation drive is a way of bringing services to the people and improving accessibility.

"We aim to leave no one and no place behind in line with the President's mantra. We are promoting ease of doing business as we move towards the realisation of Vision 2030," he said.

"I urge people to travel with valid traveling documents and desist from border jumping."

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