By Paidashe Mandivengerei
Zimbabweans staying in foreign countries will now pay US$318 for their passport renewal as expected by the standards of their host countries, the government has said.
In the past Zimbabweans in the diaspora have struggled to validate their passports after expiration as they have to return home.
Since last year, the country’s Central Registry has failed to print out passports due to lack of foreign currency to purchase ink, paper and film.
Passport applications amounting to 359 288 have piled up since August 2018.
In a statement released today (Monday), Home Affairs minister, Kazembe Kazembe said the passport situation was compounded by the fact that locals paid very low fees pegged in local currency while the department had to pay it’s suppliers in foreign currency.
“The Ministry, through the Department of Civil Registry, is responsible for; among others, production and issuance of travel documents including passports.
The Civil Registry Department is experiencing a backlog in the production of passports. The backlog is currently at 359 288 backdating to August 2018. This is mainly due to the limited availability of foreign currency to procure the required consumables such as ink, films, ribbon and passport paper.
This situation has been exacerbated by the low passport fees being charged by the Department. The Department is charging all its clients in local currency yet consumables for the production of passports are imported and require foreign currency.
The ministry is aware of the high expectation from members of the public for timely provision of service delivery particularly in the areas of issuance of travel documents. The ministry is also aware of what citizens are going through especially those living abroad whose passports have expired. Citizens in the diaspora need to have valid passports in order to regularize their stay in the host countries.
As a way of assisting the Department to attend to requirements for passports by citizens in the diaspora, Government has therefore authorized the Department to charge USD$318 for passports; in respect of those in the diaspora. The applications will be prioritized on urgent basis.
Further details on the implementation of this decision are being worked out by the Civil Registry Department in consultation with other stakeholders.”