By Anyway Yotamu
Government is set to increase passport fees significantly so as to enable the Registrar-General’s office to clear large backlogs, it has emerged. This was revealed by Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Hon Kazembe Kazembe after touring the Central Registry Offices in Harare yesterday.
“This will result in the rapid processing of applications since materials used to make the passports are all imported and expensive. However, the Government is not seeking to make profit from the passports and will ensure they remain accessible in price, since the Passport Office is a public service, not a profit-making business.
“Even on a switch to full cost recovery, not all costs are in foreign currency and dependent on the exchange rate since there are significant costs in local currency. Costs like salaries for processing and printing staff are paid in local currency. Only the actual special security paper requires foreign currency,” Hon Kazembe said.
Yesterday, the Registrar General, Mr Clement Masango clashed with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) after he accused the independent board of lacking professionalism by commenting on issues that were still under investigations.
This happened when the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission led by Commissioner Elasto Mugwadi invited Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs Mr Aaron Nhepera and Register General Mr Masango to respond to several allegations related to challenges citizens were facing in accessing national documents such as birth certificates, national identity cards and passports. Some of the allegations that the ZHRC levelled against the Department of the Registrar General include corruption and arrogance, among others.
On the other hand, Mr Masango accused ZHRC of conducting the inquiry with a pre-conceived motive. He said he could not give substantive responses, as in his view, the Commission had already made conclusions given the media reports that some of the Commissioners were making against the Register General’s Office.