Local News

Passport fees to remain in US dollars

The Zimbabwean government has recently received public backlash for their decision to maintain passport fees in foreign currency, despite the introduction of the new ZiG currency. This decision has been made despite public calls for the government to make this critical document accessible in the local currency.

The Deputy Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion, David Kuda Mnangagwa, stated that the government has a contractual obligation with the Lithuanian company, Garsu Pasaulis, that helped to establish the electronic system, which mandates that passport fees shall be charged in foreign currency.

The new e-passport was introduced in December 2021, with the cost of an ordinary passport set at US$150 and an emergency one set at US$250. Zimbabweans have been questioning the government’s decision to continue charging fees in foreign currency, given that they have been arresting people who buy forex on the streets.

Also read:Zimbabweans to get E-passports in South Africa

Senator Meliwe Phuti raised the same issue in Parliament last week and asked why the ZiG currency cannot be used to pay for passports and other services.

Responding to Phuti, Mnangagwa said the passport issue was unique as the investor has to recoup its investment. He said (via The Herald):

I believe that the social contract and the mechanics around it are being discussed. It is a sensitive area that we don’t want to rush or expediently go to without having spoken to all the stakeholders.

Similar to some of the PPP arrangements that are there, I think the Government holds the sanctity of contract sacrosanct. So, you would find that there were cases where you would spend days at the passport office.

An investor came in, and part of those arrangements included foreign currency pricing. These are stamped-in documents that need to be reviewed by the relevant ministries.

The relevant authorities and stakeholders are looking at how we can possibly have all these areas within the ZiG domain.

However, journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, a government critic, said the issue of contractual obligations as reported by The Herald is false. He said:

… the truth is that influential political figures involved in the passport deal prefer foreign currency over the local one, despite claims that the latter is backed by real gold and foreign exchange reserves.

Why wouldn’t they accept the local currency under such circumstances if it is truly backed by gold and foreign exchange reserves?

As long as the ZiG is not accepted by its issuer, the Government, it will soon become worthless.

Where do they expect Zimbabweans to obtain US Dollars when banks don’t have them, except through the black market?

Related Articles

Back to top button