SOUTH AFRICA-BASED Zimbabweans have appealed to government to reduce the passport processing fees saying they could not afford the current costs since their income was eroded by the prolonged COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
The Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, said they had not been spared by the COVID-19 economic hardships and hence the request for downward review of passport fees.
Zimbabweans based abroad are expected to pay US$318 for new passports.
“We call on the government to reduce the passport fee in solidarity with the working people who are under global lockdown following the outbreak of coronavirus,” the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa spokesperson, Bongani Mazwi Mkwananzi said.
“A caring government will reduce the passport fees by at least 50% and still recoup passport production costs.”
The Registrar-General’s office says it is failing to clear a backlog of 300 000 applications due to foreign currency shortages to import consumables such as ink, films, ribbon and passport paper.
“It has become painfully clear that one must fork out this huge amount to get a passport processed, otherwise they will wait months for a passport to be issued. Many have reported that they were told to top-up as long as their passports hold a work permit,” Mkwananzi said as he lamented the slow pace it takes the RG’s office to process passports.
Government in March this year gazetted Statutory Instrument 61 of 2020 to enable applicants to pay passport fees in foreign currency.