WINDHOEK – The Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration Frans Kapofi said the ministry is currently in consultations with Southern African Development Community (Sadc) member states to go an extra mile in allowing Namibians to use Emergency Travel Certificates (ETCs) - and where the ETC is not accepted to allow holders of Namibian passports to enter their territories for a validity period of at least up to seven days of their expiries.
Kapofi, who made the remarks last Thursday on the shortage of Namibian ordinary passport booklets, said the nation will be informed once the arrangement has been agreed to with Sadc member states.
“It is important to note that this is only a temporary measure to last at least until 30 November 2019 when passports restocking and processing of the anticipated backlog are fully dealt with,” he said.
Equally, he noted the average period of validity of the travel document whether issued to Namibians, refugees or stateless persons varies from six months, two years or in limited cases, up to five years.
He mentioned that plans are at an advanced stage to extend the validity period of the passports, from five to 10 years.
He also assured that before the end of this calendar year, Namibia will introduce a travel document specifically for refugees to be issued in strict conformity with the United Nations Convention of 28 July 1951.
Similarly, in future, he said an emergency passport or travel document for Namibians only and one for stateless persons only will be introduced in order to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion.
Kapofi explained the supply of passports will be received before the end of the next quarter (second quarter of 2019-2020 financial year).
“We therefore ask those who wish to plan for their travels to bear with us and put this into consideration. At the same time, the ministry wishes to sincerely apologise to everyone who may be negatively affected or inconvenienced by this situation. This unfortunate situation came about as a result of circumstances beyond our control,” he stated.
He said the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration would once again like to reconfirm the shortage of virgin (blank) ordinary e-passport booklets, (which are national passport booklets).
The booklets were ordered from an overseas supplier last year. However, he said, un the process of finalising the sales contract and meeting the procurement process requirements, there have been delays which resulted in stock at hand to run low. Consequently, Kapofi said, the need for Namibia to ration its small available stock to cater for the most critical travels has arisen.
This means that in most cases Namibia will only be issuing a travel document (also commonly referred to as brown passport as it is brown in colour).
He said they are aware that a few countries mainly in the European Union under the Schengen visa arrangements have expressed some concerns over the travel document mainly due to paragraph 4 of the explanatory text on page 24 of the travel document, where it states the following “the document is valid for the period mentioned on page 23”.
He said should the bearer take up residence in a country other than the Republic of Namibia, he or she must, if he or she wishes to travel again, apply to the competent authorities of the country for a new document”.
This clause, he says, does not affect Namibian citizens.
However, he said it may affect refugees and stateless persons if they do not seek permission for residence in other countries other than Namibia where they may take up legal residence status.
He therefore requested all countries to honour the travel document, as its holders are bona fide citizens or residents of Namibia.
2019-07-02 09:11:00 22 days ago