By Rittah Ndlovu MDC Alliance Secretary for Home Affairs
“USD TARIFFS MUST COME WITH USD SALARIES”
The MDC Alliance condemns the latest increase in passport fees announced by the Minister of Information.
“Our main concern is that the new fees are unaffordable for the common person whose wages are in Zimbabwe Dollars and have been eroded by inflation and contradictory, unsound monetary policies by the regime in Harare,”
“The maladministration is compounded by the fact that most workers including teachers, doctors and other civil servants do not earn United States Dollars.”
“The pegging of the fees in United States dollars constitutes an admission that the Zimbabwe Dollar has collapsed despite attempts by Treasury to contend that the local dollar is the only viable currency in the country.
The prohibitive fees are an infringement of citizens’ right to freedom of movement enshrined in section 66(1)(c) of the Constitution which entitles every citizen the right to a passport and other travel documents.
Additionally, “The passport fees are grossly unreasonable in light of the fees charged by other countries in the region for the same service.”
South Africa charges R400 for an ordinary passport which is equivalent to $27US, while Zimbabwe charges $60US for the same passport, more than double the price.
A 3-day passport will now cost $200 while a 24-hour passport will cost $318 – this is more than the wage of most civil servants.
“No justification has been put forward by the State for these exponential increases.”
“To compound matters, the announcement of the new passport fees has not been accompanied by a clear indication of the timeframe within which citizens who have paid the fees will receive their passports.”
The Registrar General’s Office is already grappling with an extreme backlog and no clear plan has been set out to ensure the backlog is dealt with expeditiously.
“We call for the alignment of workers’ wages with the reality that basic state services are now being charged in United States Dollars.
“Civil servants, teachers and doctors must be paid a living wage to ensure that they can afford basic identity and travel documents such as a passport.”
“The continued implementation of antipoor economic policies that rob the common person of a decent wage must end forthwith.”
“Under our People’s Agenda, we set out a clear roadmap for a SMART Government that includes the efficient, affordable delivery of basic services such as identity documents and passports for the citizens.”