Zimbabwe hikes passport fees as thousands seek travel documents
Pretoria – The government of Zimbabwe has significantly increased passport fees by over 200 percent in a bid to mobilise resources to clear a backlog of around 400 000 applications, the private-owned NewsDay reported.
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced that the fee increases were effective immediately, the paper said.
The new prices will see the fee for a passport processed through the normal route rise to ZW$150 from ZW$53, while that for an emergency passport will jump to ZW$600 from ZW$253.
NewsDay said the increase in passport fees came against the backdrop of thousands of Zimbabweans queuing daily for the travel documents amid renewed appetite to move out of the country in the face of its prevailing economic crisis.
The passport office in Harare is currently receiving about 2 000 applications for passports daily countrywide, but has only been able to produce about 400 per day.
The chairman of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, Nqabutho Mabhena said the Harare government could lessen the burden on itself and its citizens by allowing the use of the South African rand for payments.
The government has abolished the use of foreign currency including the rand for local transactions, having adopted the measure in 2009 after hyper inflation rendered the local dollar worthless. The Zimbabwe dollar has come under renewed pressure since the reversal, rapidly losing value particularly on the black market.
"We have always said we need to resolve the currency question because if a Zimbabwean (living) in Zimbabwe, not in the diaspora, is now asked or allowed to pay in forex [for a passport], the whole question which then arises is -- why did we abandon the multi-currency regime?" Mabhena told African News Agency.
"Close to 90 percent of the Zimbabweans that are in the informal sector (at home) do their business in South Africa, they cross (the border) every day to Musina, so the rand would be available."
"This is why we have been saying let us use the rand as a currency of reference. We do not need to join the rand union because they are other requirements that we might not meet. If people are allowed to pay for their passports, we believe people would be able to get their passports in time," Mabhena added.
African News Agency (ANA)