Zimbabweans living in neighboring South Africa have appealed to the Zimbabwean government to review downwards passport application fees as their incomes have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
They also want the embassy in that country to be fully equipped to process passport applications, rather than the current situation where they have to return to Zimbabwe to hand in the application forms.
Zimbabwe Community in South Africa spokesperson, Bongani Mazwi, was quoted by the Herald newspaper on Thursday as saying that the organization had since engaged Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa over the matter.
“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 the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mazwi said.
He said the government could cut the passport fee by 50 percent and still recoup production costs.
The request by Zimbabweans in South Africa comes after the Zimbabwe government this week announced that its diplomatic mission in South Africa had introduced a gradual resumption of consular services to facilitate the repatriation of those in need of returning home.
This follows the recent relaxation of lockdown measures by the South African government.
The Zimbabwean government last year introduced a policy to charge citizens living in the Diaspora in U.S. dollars for production of passports, as a way to help it raise foreign currency to import consumables required in production of passports.
It pegged the fee at 318 U.S. dollars.
Most Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora have had their income streams affected by the pandemic, with students in particular, being the most affected.
This has resulted in many students opting to come back home, with government in some cases assisting with their repatriation.