For a lot of people, the e-passport has been a godsend relief. You pay US$120 compared to the US$315 for the old one-day passport. The passport comes with a chip and other modern security features that make it future proof but most importantly it comes out in a week. The downside is that you can only currently apply for the passport when you are in Harare. Those from other towns, cities and districts have to make the arduous journey to the capital if they want to apply. Recently the government announced that those in Bulawayo would soon be able to apply for the e-passport in their city. Well, I have more good news, soon you will be able to apply for the e-passport online.

We are already in Bulawayo and we should start next week and from there, we are going to Gwanda and then Lupane, Marondera, Manicaland, Mashonaland Central and the rest of the country.

The development of the online system is now 80% complete and GP said by the end of April, but I want to say in May, we should have this system up and running and people can apply online.

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Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe

Two big improvements

These are two big improvements but it seems the introduction of physical offices to handle e-passports applications will certainly take a while. And even if they establish e-passport offices in every office there will be the little matter of those in the diaspora. Currently, they either have to settle for the old passport or make the journey back home which is not easy with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging in various countries. This is where the online application process comes in.

That’s not all, when the new e-passport was introduced several “online startups” sprung up. There were several very official-looking sites that were set up by unknown people that claimed to be official partners with the Registrar-General’s office set up for the purpose of processing online e-passport applications. Turns out they were all fake and the intentions of those who set them up were not known. This means that the gap has to be plugged by an official site otherwise there will always be a gap that scammers can exploit.

So when will the new site be ready? The Minister says in May but you should always take government deadlines with a pinch of salt, especially where our beloved Zimbabwean government is concerned. Just be excited but bear in mind that the new site will be availed when it’s ready and not based on what sounds like a made-up timetable although that utterance could give us a indication of how well the process is coming behind the scenes.