Thursday, 23 January 2020

QUICK PASSPORTS : PAY IN FOREX, LOCALS TOLD


GOVERNMENT is working on regulations to allow locals with foreign currency the option to pay for passports in forex in a bid to speed up the process and clear the huge backlog.

Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said there is a passport backlog of between 350 000 and 400 000 passports.

Last year, Government authorised the charging of US$318 for passport applicants in the Diaspora and said the applications will be prioritised.

Speaking after a familiarisation tour of the registry and immigration offices in Gweru yesterday, Minister Kazembe said his ministry had been approached by locals willing to pay for passports in foreign currency to access the much needed travel document.

He said those with no access to forex will continue paying in local currency. The Minister said since Government had outlawed the use of foreign currency, it will take a Statutory Instrument to allow those with free funds to pay for their passports in forex.

 “Government is working out strategies to clear the passport backlog and increase daily production because we remain committed to ensuring that every citizen who needs a passport gets one without hurdles. So soon if approved by the responsible authority, we want a new Statutory Instrument that allows locals with foreign currency to pay for the production of the document. At the moment we all know that it is illegal for locals to pay for the production of the passport using any foreign currency. That is one way to speed up the production of the document because the material we use in the production of the passport is imported and needs foreign currency,” he said. 

Minister Kazembe said passports being printed now were those applied for in October 2018.

He said there is a huge backlog which needs to be cleared as a matter of urgency so that people are granted their Constitutional right to access the travelling document.

“Clearing the passport backlog is Government’s number one priority as we speak and that is why we have embarked on this tour of provinces so that we get the feel of what is happening on the ground while listening to challenges, advice and contributions from the people which we will take back and work on lasting solutions to this passport backlog problem,” said Minister Kazembe.

He said locals who cannot afford to pay in foreign currency will not be forced to do so.

“As you know it is illegal to transact in foreign currency meaning if we have this new Statutory Instrument, locals who can’t raise foreign currency will not be forced to do so. This will be only for those who can afford and need their passports quickly,” he said.

Turning to corruption at the immigration and passport offices, Minister Kazembe said members of the public should assist Government in fighting the scourge by reporting corrupt officials. 

“Without members of the public alerting us about suspected corruption, we won’t get to the bottom of it. If you are asked to pay a bribe, you need to report that official as soon as possible,” he said.

Mrs Respect Gono, the chief immigration officer told the minister that they had been forced to centralise some services in Harare to curb rampant corruption in her department.

“We were forced to take some immigration services to Harare because of corruption in the regional offices. But we have managed to clean out the rotten apples and we are in the process of decentralising immigration services,” she said.

Minister Kazembe was accompanied by his deputy Mike Madiro, Registrar-General Mr Clement Masango and the Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs Larry Mavima. Herald

0 comments:

Post a comment