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Zimbabwe: Passport Office Goes Digital
Source: The Herald
Source Date: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Focus: Citizen Engagement, Internet Governance
Country: Zimbabwe
Created: Oct 12, 2012

THE Registrar-General's Office will now send SMS messages to passport applicants to collect their documents, while the applicants will now also be able to download application forms on the Internet. Registrar-General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede yesterday said the digitalisation would bring convenience to the public. The applicants download the application forms online and take them to the passport office after filling them in. They would pay a US$33 fee for the form on submission. The development is expected to improve efficiency and reduce time spent queueing for the forms. "The department has introduced its new website: http://www.rg.gov.zw. The website provides the public with all relevant information regarding the department's offices and services," said Mr Mudede. "As part of the website, we have introduced a new computerised passport application form. "This will enable anyone with Internet access to fill in the passport application form within the website from the ease of their home or office, print it and apply for a new passport using this printed form." Mr Mudede said the new website was free from abuse because it had security features. "Since security of such a procedure is paramount, the passport application form can only be printed after it has been completely filled in," he said. "The form cannot be downloaded empty. The passport application form cannot be saved on the local computer. "The website also enables one to find any relevant information about the activities and services provided by the department as well as addresses of all their offices around Zimbabwe." Mr Mudede said with such measures in place, it would be impossible for one to download the forms and sell them on the streets. Those without access to the Internet would still get the forms at the RG's Office. An ordinary passport costs US$50 and takes a month to be processed, while an emergency passport, which takes three days, costs US$250. "While an applicant is filling out the passport application form, they will be requested to fill in a mobile phone number which will be used to get an SMS update the moment the passport is ready and waiting for collection. "The department has invested in a top-of-the-line SMS solution and has developed unique applications which will enable the RG to give better service to the Zimbabwean citizen." The SMS service, Mr Mudede said, would enter its pilot stage in the next few days. Of late, Zimbabwe has witnessed a reduction in the number of people seeking passports and temporary travelling documents at the RG's offices countrywide compared to previous years when hundreds of passport applicants would spend nights in queues to get the forms. The RG's Office resorted to a system whereby passport seekers would make appointments for them to be attended to in a bid to cope with the increased demand.
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