State Media|CABINET yesterday approved strategies to clear the passport backlog which will see the fees going up and those with free funds being allowed to pay in foreign currency. A Statutory Instrument is being crafted to allow payment in foreign currency.
With immediate effect, fees for an ordinary passport go up from $53 to $150 while an emergency passport will cost $600, up from $253.
The move seeks to clear the backlog of 400 000 passports in the next six months and cater for new applicants.
Briefing journalists in Harare after yesterday’s Cabinet session, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the Government had approved a huge budget towards the clearance of 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,” she said.
“The strategies are as follows, that the costs of ordinary and emergency passports currently pegged at $53 and $253 respectively, be increased to ZW$150 for an ordinary passport and ZW$600 for an emergency passport.
“That Treasury avails US$6 796 500; 580 200 Euros and ZW$11 781 900 towards meeting the cost of clearing the passport backlog.”
Asked why the Government was not allowing those with free funds to pay for their passports in foreign currency, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said: “That has been approved by Cabinet and we are waiting for the Statutory Instrument to be in place. We have received requests from various people with free funds and we are waiting for the Statutory Instrument to be in place then we can allow them.”
Minister Kazembe said the current backlog would be cleared in six months, adding that the procurement of consumables took at least 16 weeks to complete.
He said access to travel documents was a basic right and Government was subsiding them to ensure they were affordable.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Fidelity Printers to acquire 600 000 securitised inner passport papers, enough to clear the current backlog.
Secretary for Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Mr Aaron Nhepera signed on behalf of the ministry, while Fidelity Printers was represented by its general manager Mr Fredrick Kunaka.
Said Mr Nhepera: “The contract involves the acquisition of about 600 000 securitised inner passport papers, which will be enough to clear the backlog and also provide enough material to cater for the new applications until the end of the year.
“We are going to get 600 000 consumables from Fidelity. It’s going to be an ongoing process, but this is just an initial batch we are getting, but we will be working with Fidelity going forward in that regard. We do have contracts with other suppliers to supply other consumables that are required in the production of passports.”
Said Mr Kunaka: “We promise to do the job to the best of our ability to ensure that we deliver to the benefit of our nation.
“The MoU basically is meant to ensure that we produce the feedstock for the production of passports as per the order required by the Registrar-General’s Office. This is going to be an ongoing exercise and they will always be giving us additional.
“The initial figure we will start with is 600 000 and there will always be an additional as per requirements, given the uptake of the consumables.”