Government spokesperson Nick Mangwana has just announced that the new price for a normal passport application is now the equivalent of $US60. For the 3 day passport, the cost will now be US$200. This is probably the government’s latest attempt to clear the crippling passport backlog that goes back as far as 2018. Currently, the best way to get a passport is to apply for an emergency passport which comes out in 24-48 hours. This process costs US$318.

The beggining of an end to the backlog

There was joy a few weeks ago when a message started circulating on social media telling those who had applied for passports to come and collect them as they were out. Turns out it was just a cruel hoax. The message was exposed as fake news. Somebody was just playing a cruel joke on people who were desperately waiting on their passports.

Hopefully by charging a more competitive price the Registar’s office will now clear the backlog. The backlog was created by the 1:1 problem. The government was keen to create the impression that the bond note and USD were equal and to that end, they refused to change prices for items like passport applications. As the bond lost value, the application fees became more and more uneconomical to the point where the government was now subsidising the whole passport making process.

This went on until the point where the government could no longer sustain the illusion. More and more government services had to be subsidised as they were being availed at below-market prices. This led to severe foreign currency shortages. The Registar-General’s office could no longer import passport making essentials like ink and security paper. The charade just crumbled at some point and the government introduced the emergency passport as a way of allowing those in the diaspora to renew their expiring or lost documents.

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