Parliament yesterday approved the vote, or budget of $452 720 000 for the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Defending the vote, the minister, Cde Dumiso Dabengwa told the House that the Registrar-General’s Office had decided to make certain changes to passports to curb forgeries.
“We have decided to change the nature of passports by bringing about a compact laminated page where you have a photograph in order to guard against forgeries.”
There was a huge backlog in the issue of passports, particularly in Bulawayo and Harare, because many of the citizens in the two cities had become entrepreneurs, travelling to neighbouring countries for shopping or business.
The Registrar-General’s Office was now carrying out thorough checks on all those renewing their passports in order to ensure that only bona fide citizens were issued with passports.
The office had mobile registration units all over the country, but there were inadequate funds for the exercise.
By the end of this month, the office would be in the red by up to $2 million because of the subsistence allowances it had to pay to officers working on the mobile registration units.
Members of Parliament expressed concern at the poor police accommodation, and Cde Dabengwa said, funds had to be made available urgently to provide accommodation for the police force in order to make them comfortable and curtail any temptations that might come their way.
Police salaries had been upgraded so that they could be in line with the army. Asked why police officers who were on trial or were being investigated, were allowed to remain on duty, Cde Dabengwa said this had been because some cases had taken too long to come before the courts.
He, however, assured the House that all anomalies which existed in the force would be dealt with. Officers who were on trial would be suspended or sent home.
The Acting Commissioner of Police would remain on leave until his appeal was heard. Asked who was in command at the Police Headquarters, Cde Dabengwa said: “The structure that remains at Police Headquarters is holding the fort.”
On the issue of transport for the police, he said the total requirement would be about $120 million.
On visa requirements, Cde Dabengwa said these were imposed for security, economic and political reasons.
Parliament yesterday adjourned until Tuesday next week.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
- A passport is a document issued by an authorised official that facilitates the passage of the holder from their country to other countries in accordance with visa requirements. Passport also help their holders to request protection from their country’s embassies while abroad.
- The Registrar department has done a lot to enhance the security of the passports it issues and to align them in line with modern trends through the introduction of e-passports in December 2021.
- E-passports reduce the threat of identity fraud because of increased security features such as embedded biometric information such as fingerprints, iris and face of the holder.
- Since the introduction of e-passports, the Registrar General’s office has managed to clear its passport backlog.