From the 7th to the 10th of May staff from the Zimbabwean Embassy in Australia (Mr Moses Chikanyairo and Ms Pelagia Mbanda) were in Wellington to assist all Zimbabweans who wished to apply for a passport. For a number of people news of their visit was welcome as there is no Zimbabwean Embassy in New Zealand meaning that people have to travel to Australia or make alternative arrangements if they want to apply for a new passport. Having embassy staff in the country gave people the opportunity to pick-up a passport application form to fill out which they would then send to Zimbabwe and get friends or family to aide in processing the application. Before the arrival of the Embassy staff, information with passport application requirements and associated fees was distributed with the cost for a new passport being: passport forms – AU$30.00, passport fees – AU$190.00, verification of documents – AU$50.00 coming to a total of AU$270 – Click here for new passport application requirements and fee schedule from the Zimbabwe Embassy Australia.
People went along to where embassy staff were stationed ready to pay AU$30 to pick up an application form but were caught off guard when they were told the fee was AU$80. The embassy staff were only accepting bank drafts which after a conversion from the NZ dollar and associated bank fees came up to approximately NZ$120. That is an exorbitant price to pay for an application form. A New Zealand passport will cost you about NZ$150-$170 depending on where you are in the world, an Australian passport AU$200, a British passport £75 and a U.S. passport US$100. As you can see, if you were to compile a list with the cost of passports from various nations around the world, Zimbabwe passport fees are bound to be close to if not at the top.
It just doesn’t seem right that one has to pay just for an application form and then the processing fees. For people living in the diaspora, they may run into a few problems when trying to apply for a new passport due to some of the requirements. These include the need to supply a long birth certificate and national identity card. Depending on how long a person has been away from Zimbabwe they may not have this documentation. In the case of a national identity document, they are only issued in Zimbabwe where a personal appearance is required for photos and fingerprinting. This makes things a little more difficult for someone trying to apply for a passport and doesn’t have all the required documentation. In the end all the money that has to be paid and the hops you have to jump through for a passport if you live out of Zimbabwe end up being one big headache when in reality it should be a relatively simple process. It may work out to be a lot cheaper and easier to go through the official ‘unofficial’ channels for a new passport.
People applying for passports from Zimbabwe are not immune to high passport fees. The Registrar-General’s Office is constantly increasing passport fees to match the economic climate with the last update being on the 14th of April – Click here for a list of fees for a Zimbabwe Passport as at 14 April 2008.
The government really needs to re-evaluate what they charge for and how much they charge for passport applications. In the end it may not be worth all the hassle of applying for a passport that takes you nowhere if you are eligible for citizenship in another country.