Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Zimbabweans based in South Africa have appealed to the Government to review passport application fees downward as most people’s incomes had been affected by Covid-19.
They also want embassies to be fully equipped to process passport applications rather than the current scenario where application forms have to be handed in person at home.
It is understood that sources of income for a large constituency of Zimbabweans in the informal sector in neighbouring countries had been affected by ongoing measures to control the rate of new Covid-19 infections.
In a statement yesterday, the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa’s (ZimComSA) spokesperson, Mr Bongani Mazwi Mkwananzi said they had since engaged the country’s ambassador to SA over the issue.
“We call on the Government to reduce the passport fees in solidarity with the working people who are under global lockdown following the outbreak of Covid-19,” he said.
He said Government could reduce the passport fee by at least 50 percent and still recoup production costs.
Mr Mkwananzi said they had put forward a request to the Zimbabwe Consulate for them to courier passport application forms to Harare for passport processing given the current lockdown conditions.
The Consul General, he said has since informed them that engagements were underway with the Register General and other Government departments.
“We understand that talks are ongoing to see how this process can be done.”
Mr Mkwananzi said many people in the Diaspora were unable to travel to Zimbabwe to submit passport application forms, making it difficult for them to renew their passports before they expire.
He said they had proposed that the passport fees be paid at the Consulate, including courier fees by applicants.
“We hope that this discussion will be concluded soon so that our members will not have to bear the burden of sending on their passport forms via their relatives for submission at the passport office in Zimbabwe,” said Mr Mkwananzi.
He advised those with expiring passports to use the Consulate booking process as recently announced.