The Zimbabwe Community in South Africa has appealed to the government to reduce passport fees arguing, a number of nationals in the diaspora have been affected by the Covid-19-induced lockdowns and therefore cannot afford to renew their travel documents at the obtaining fees.
The appeal comes hard on the heels of the recent resumption of services by the Zimbabwe Consulate South of the Limpopo.
The services which include the processing of passports and birth certificates had been suspended as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The government last year pegged passport fees at US$318 for Zimbabweans residing outside the country.
In a statement, the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa spokesperson, Bongani Mazwi Mkwananzi, said a number of Zimbabweans working in South Africa were adversely affected by the lockdown in the neighbouring country and therefore cannot afford the passport fees. “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,” said Mkwananzi.
“A caring government will reduce the passport fees by at least 50 percent and still recoup passport production costs.”
He said it was disheartening that despite high passport fees being paid, the government still takes too long to issue the documents.
“The worst part is that this does not even get processed in a day as per the government’s claim that this fee was only for emergency passports,” lamented Mkwananzi.
“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.”
He added: “Following our request not to have the Zimbabwe consulate courier passport application forms sent to Harare for passport processing given the current lockdown conditions, the Consul has informed us that a submission has been made with the office of the Registrar General and other government departments and talks are ongoing to see how the process can be done taking heed of all necessary government protocols that need to be followed.”
Mkwananzi further explained: “We had proposed that the required passport fees be paid at the Consulate including courier fees by applicants. The payment of passport fees which is not under the consulate jurisdiction must be cleared by the office of the Registrar General and other government departments.”
He said they looked forward to their request being acceded to.
“We hope that this discussion will be concluded soon so that our members will not have to bear the burden of sending their passport forms via their relatives for submission at the passport office in Zimbabwe,” said Mkwananzi.