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Passport relief for Zim diasporans


Harare (New Ziana) – Zimbabweans in the diaspora can now apply for urgent passports by paying in US dollars, a move Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe said would ensure timeous production of the travel documents.

Since mid-last year, a massive backlog of over 300 000 passports has piled up, mainly because of failure by the Registrar General’s department to secure adequate foreign currency to import production material.

To partially remedy the situation, government has allowed the Registrar General’s department to charge people in the diaspora US$318 for an urgent passport.

Kazembe said continued production at current prices was no longer viable, and that charging people in the diaspora in foreign currency would capacitate the Registrar General’s department.

“The Ministry is also aware of what citizens are going through, especially those living abroad whose passports have expired. Citizens in the diaspora need valid passports in order to regularise their stay in host countries,” he said.

“As a way of assisting the department to attend to requirements for passports by citizens in the diaspora, government has therefore authorised the department to charge US$318 for passports in respect of those in the diaspora. The applications will be prioritised on urgent basis.”

Kazembe said modalities to also allow payment in other foreign currencies other than the USD were being worked out.

The government is also considering an upward review of passport fees for those not based in the diaspora to levels that would enable the Registrar General’s department to raise foreign currency required to procure production materials.

It currently costs ZWL$53 for an ordinary passport, which under normal circumstances takes at least three months to process, ZWL$253 for one that comes out after three days and ZWL$380 for one which comes out in 24 hours.

Kazembe said the passport backlog now stood at 359 288, dating back to August 2018.

“The situation has been exacerbated by the low passport fees being charged by the department. The department is charging all its clients in local currency yet consumables for production of passports are imported and require foreign currency,” he said.

Last month, the Registrar General Clement Masango indicated that passport production stood at 2 000 per day, way below the installed capacity of 4 600 per day.

With high demand for travel documents, officials at the central registry have been accused of corruption by demanding bribes of up to US$200 to urgently process passports for those in need.

The Registrar General’s department receives around 1 500 new passport applications per day.
New Ziana

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