Zimbabweans Outraged by Skyrocketing Passport Fees

Government hikes passport fees amid economic crisis and mass exodus

by Victor Adetimilehin

The Zimbabwean government has sparked public anger by increasing the fees for obtaining passports, making them unaffordable for most citizens.


According to a government gazette issued on Monday, the fee for an ordinary passport has risen from US$120 to US$150, while the fee for an emergency passport has jumped from US$200 to US$250.


The move comes as Zimbabwe faces a severe economic crisis, with inflation soaring above 300 percent and unemployment reaching nearly 50 percent. Based on a report by Newsday Zimbabwe, many Zimbabweans are desperate to leave the country in search of better opportunities abroad, especially in neighbouring South Africa.


However, the government has failed to meet the high demand for passports, citing a shortage of foreign currency to import the required materials. The backlog of passport applications is estimated to be over 400,000, with some people waiting for more than two years to receive their documents.


Public Outcry

Civil society groups, opposition parties, and ordinary citizens widely criticize the new passport fees, stating that they are unrealistic and unjustified.


The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) said the fees were “beyond the reach of many Zimbabweans” and violated their right to freedom of movement.


“The government should not use the passport fees as a revenue-generating tool, but rather as a service to the people,” ZimRights said in a statement.


The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), accused the government of being “insensitive and cruel” to the plight of the people.


“The passport fees are not only exorbitant, but also discriminatory, as they exclude the majority of Zimbabweans who earn less than US$100 per month,” MDC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said.


Many Zimbabweans also expressed their frustration and dismay on social media, calling the fees “extortionate” and “ridiculous”.


“This is daylight robbery. How can they charge us so much for a basic document that we need to travel?” another user commented.


Government Defends Decision

The government has defended its decision to hike the passport fees, saying it was necessary to clear the backlog and improve the service delivery.


Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said the fees were still lower than those charged by other countries in the region, such as South Africa and Botswana.


He also said the government was working on increasing the production capacity of the passport office, which currently produces only 800 passports per day.


“We are aware of the challenges faced by our citizens who want to travel, and we are doing everything possible to address them,” Kazembe said.


He added that the government was also considering introducing a new passport with enhanced security features and a longer validity period of 10 years.


Despite the challenges and hardships faced by many Zimbabweans, some still hope for a better future for their country. One of them is Tendai Sibanda, a 32-year-old teacher who has been waiting for his passport since 2021. He said he wanted to travel to South Africa to pursue further studies and improve his skills.


“I’m not giving up on my dreams. I believe that one day, things will change for the better in Zimbabwe, and I will be able to contribute to its development,” he said.


“I just hope that the government will listen to the people and make the passport fees affordable for everyone.”

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