No To forex payments for Zim-passports, says Minister Kazembe
By Staff Reporter
HOME AFFAIRS Minister Kazembe Kazembe (pictured) says passport application fees shall remain pegged in local currency, adding that any foreign currency payments advanced by locals other than those based abroad was illegal.
An ordinary Zimbabwean passport costs Z$53 dollars while an emergency passport is Z$318.
However, government recently introduced a window in which Zimbabwean applicants based abroad can pay US$318 for emergency passports.
Registrar General Clemence Masango recently revealed that over 9 000 passports were issued to Zimbabweans based outside in a space of one month from December last year.
This ignited demands by locals to be allowed to pay in foreign currency if this was a guarantee for them to get the document faster.
But Minister Kazembe said Wednesday it remained illegal to pay foreign currency if one was making the application from within the country’s borders.
He was speaking to the media following a familiarisation tour of the National Passport Production Centre in Harare.
“As it stands, it is illegal for locals to be paying US$318…it is not legal for locals to be charged in foreign currency and if someone is doing that they are being mischievous and they are committing a crime,” said Kazembe.
“Those who are only allowed to pay US Dollars, for now, are the diasporans, those who are working in the diaspora and earning in foreign currency and it is only for the emergency passport, that is the government’s position.
“We have however received pleas to allow those in Zimbabwe and with free funds to also be able to pay the same amount like the diasporans for the emergency passport because they might have business commitments and the money for that but currently it’s not legal for us to accept that money.
“We are currently working around that and hopefully, in the shortest possible time, we should be able to allow those with free funds to get their passports but this is not happening now.”
Kazembe added, “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 at the moment is too little 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 because, at the end of the day, access to those documents is a constitutional right.”