The Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede announced the suspension on Monday but did not explain what exactly caused the fire that has now grounded the ID processes in Zimbabwe.
“We wish to inform members of the public that the department is currently unable to process computerised documents until further notice. These include acceptance of new passport application forms, processing of temporary travelling documents, processing of computerised identity cards and processing of computerised birth certificates,” Mudede told a news conference in Harare.
In his address he attempted to attack Radio VOP which first reported about the fire outbreak on its 24 hour news website saying it had exaggerated the extent of the damage. But on the fateful day a huge black thick smoke could be seen rising in the air while major Harare City Council fire tending equipment had to be mobilised to try to put out the fire which had forced his office to suspend business.
This was at a time when many Zimbabweans both in and out of the country were desperate to get IDs to allow them to stay in South Africa legally.
South Africa offered Zimbabwe a passport making machine which would have seen the country processing 4000 passports in one hour but the offer was turned down on alleged “security” grounds.
Mudede refused to answer questions on why the country refused the offer.
“I don’t want to comment on that but if it was left to me to respond then I will do that at the right time,” he said.
Sources at the RG office told Radio VOP that the fire was caused by an electrical fault which was caused by a power outage on the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) grid.