By Leopold Munhende | Chief Correspondent
HUNDREDS of those who slept at Harare’s Passport office and an equal number who trekked to the busy premises at the break of dawn in December will be glad they did after government announced application fees had been hiked as was anticipated.
Ordinary applications will now cost US$170 while emergency ones will be charged US$270, both charges being inclusive of a US$20 Quick Response (QR) expense effective New Year’s Day.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube had initially presented to Parliament, plans to hike passport fees from the already steep US$120 to US$200 for an ordinary application and a US$80 hike to US$300 for emergency ones.
His plans were resisted by already struggling Zimbabweans.
Hundreds, eager to leave Zimbabwe, flocked to Passport Centres across the country to beat Ncube’s assumed January 1 deadline.
Zimbabwe is facing an economic crisis that has forced millions out in search of better economic prospects and continues to chase more beyond its borders hence the December rush for passports.
Jobs in the health, education and recently cruise ship industries have seen Zimbabweans opting to undergo fast-track courses that apply to leave.
Zimbabwean nurses are numbered just behind Indians and Nigerians in Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). Australia, Canada and America have also been welcoming.
“The Schedule to the Citizenship (Passport Fees), 2022 published in Statutory Instrument (SI) 16 of 2022 is repealed and the following is substituted;
“The fees payable for obtaining one passport shall be US$150 for an ordinary passport, and US$250 for an emergency passport.
“An additional fee of US$20 shall be charged for every electronically readable passport application to obtain a Quick Response (QR) code,” reads SI 1 of 2024.