THE government has set new passport fees which will see Zimbabweans fork out $150 for an ordinary passport and $600 for an emergency passport.
This comes as the government is currently struggling to clear a backlog of up to 400 000 passports dating back to September 2018.
Before the latest fee hikes, an ordinary passport was $53 and an emergency one was $253.
Addressing journalists during the post-Cabinet media briefing held in Harare yesterday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said in addition to approving the new passport fees, Cabinet had also approved the availing of over US$6 million and Euro 580 000 by Treasury to clear the passport backlog.
“Cabinet considered and approved the strategies to clear the passport backlog at the Central Registry as presented by the minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, which include that the current Treasury payment facility of US$1 000 000 per month towards debt settlement be maintained and that Treasury avails US$6 796 500, 580 200 Euros and $11 781 900 towards meeting the cost of clearing the passport backlog,” Mutsvangwa said.
Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe said the government was aware that $150 is not enough to clear the backlog or to assist in the procurement of materials for passport production.
“$150, which is about US$8, is not enough to assist in clearing the backlog, but access to documentation is a human right. As a government, we are not there to try and make a profit out of this process, but government’s intention is to make sure that people have access to these identification documents by subsidising it,” Kazembe said.
Kazembe added that the government’s target is to clear the passport backlog by mid-year, if funds to import all consumables are availed immediately.
“Passport making is done in three stages. The first stage is that of booklet production and currently we are producing 8 000 booklets per day. The second stage is the personalisation stage where special features like the name and passport number are added and the production capacity is at 3 000 per day. The third stage, which is about quality control, currently has the capacity of 2 000 per day.
“Everything that is used in these processes is imported, and this is why we are asking for money from Treasury so that we can increase the capacity of the second and third stage to produce 5 000 passports a day,” Kazembe said.
Kazembe further revealed that Cabinet had approved the plea for people with free funds to pay US$318 for emergency passports.
“Cabinet has already approved for people with free funds to pay US$318 for an express emergency passport. We are, however, waiting for the ministry of Finance to gazette a statutory instrument to allow people to start making the payments,” he said.
This comes as the Home Affairs ministry signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Fidelity Printers, which will see the ministry receiving funds to purchase 600 000 passport papers in efforts to clear the existing backlog.