By Rudo Saungweme
The production process of passports is set to commence in a few weeks’ time following the release of funds by Treasury for the part payment of the US$7 million debt owed to suppliers of consumables needed, the Government has said.
Speaking during the tour of the national passport production centre at the KGVI Central Registry in Harare today, the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Ambassador Cain Mathema stated that Treasury had so far paid US$3 million to the registry’s debtors.
“Following the signing of a payment plan on the 17th June 2019 with suppliers of the consumables to deal with the US$7 million which the department owed, Treasury has made the following payments, on 20 June 2019 we paid US$1 million, on the 26 of June we paid another US $1 million and on 24 July this year we paid another US $1 million,” said the Minister.
Minister Mathema stated that this has reduced the indebtedness to US$4 million adding that the suppliers of such material were business people which needed to be paid.
“Understandably these suppliers of what we need, obviously, are business people and they want to be paid. This development has since unlocked the suppliers` for both identity documents and passport production consumables,” he said.
Honourable Mathema has revealed that the Ministry of Home Affairs has so far received consignments of 50 000 identity consumables and 50 000 passport consumables and one passport printer.
He said that the officials from the Registrar General`s office were also making efforts to ensure that the passport consumables were purchased directly from the suppliers so as to avoid going through third parties.
“The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry and officials from the Registrar General’s Department have just returned from a meeting with one of the key suppliers of passport consumables so that the Department can buy direct from the supplier as opposed to going through a third party,” said Minister Mathema.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had been facing challenges in the production of passports which had been worsened by the ongoing shortage of foreign currency.
Minister Mathema has stated that at the moment his ministry had stocks of less than 2 000 passport consumables and had for some time now been issuing an average of 60 passports per day only to unavoidable urgent cases and to avert a total shut down.