By Leopold Munhende
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa Friday moved to legalise his government’s recent decision to accept United States dollars as payment for passport application by Zimbabweans willing to part with the much sought-after currency to get the service.
Government Friday gazetted Statutory Instrument 61 of 2020 which paves way for US dollar payments.
“It is hereby notified that His Excellency the President, in terms of section 2 of the Exchange Control Act [Chapter 22:05], has made the following regulations;
“Payment for emergency passports, that is the payment out of free funds of any fee for the issuance of a passport within 24 hours of the fulfilment of the requirements for such issuance by the person in whose name the passport is to be issued,” reads the SI.
The move comes barely two weeks after Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya declared Zimbabwe was on the right path to de-dollarisation.
But Zimbabwean authorities have come under fire for apparent double standards following their unpopular scrapping of the multi-currency system which anchored domestic transactions in favour of the much-resented local currency.
There has been discord within the de-dollarisation process with government licensing select fuel dealers and fast food outlets to sell in foreign currency, with the rest left to trade in local currency.
Labour unions representing mostly government workers have led the demand for authorities to steer the country back to the multi-currency system while opposition legislator and former Finance Minister Tendai Biti has also harangued current minister Mthuli Ncube in parliament for his stubborn maintenance of a near dead currency.
Ncube scrapped the multi-currency system that had been in place since 2009 and having been credited for stabilising a volatile economy that saw the country’s inflation rate scale unpredecented thee-digit figures in terms of millions.
He has been blamed for worsening poverty levels and decimating the value of wages since taking the unilateral action.