By Idah Mhetu
HOME Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe Wednesday stood firm the cost of acquiring a Zimbabwean passport for citizens based in the country shall remain pegged in local currency, adding that any foreign currency payments for the much sought after document was illegal.
He was addressing the media and staff at the National Passport Production Centre after touring the facility.
The minister said it was illegal for Central Registry to accept foreign currency payments from locals seeking emergency passports since cabinet has not yet approved such a move.
Kazembe insisted only those based in the diaspora were expected to pay in foreign currency.
“It is illegal for locals to pay US$318 for and emergency passport; those who are allowed to pay US$318 for the emergency passport are only the Diasporans, those who are working in the diaspora and earning in foreign currency,” said Kazembe.
“It will take time for the government to increase passport fees, because it is a process the ministry might approve but also cabinet has to approve it.”
Kazembe said government understood the cost of producing the travel document was much more than what locals were paying but the policy freeze was in fulfilling the country’s obligations to granting citizens their constitutional rights to access identity documents.
“We have not increased passport costs at the moment and yes there are discussions around that, I am sure you will appreciate that what you are paying for the passports right now is more than want you are paying for tomatoes and honestly, this process is too costly for someone to pay ZW$53. It is not sustainable but however, we must also strike a balance…”
Kazembe also said the Registry now prints 2000-2500 passports per day as they wish to increase the number but having challenges with the issue of accessing consumables.
The Zimbabwean passport backlog remains hovering in hundreds of thousands.