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Is possession of a passport a privilege or basic right?

14 Apr 2021 at 06:29hrs | Views
THE Zanu-PF government has once again showed its insensitivity to its citizens after it indirectly increased passport fees when it fixed them in foreign currency at a time when the majority are paid in local currency.

This is despite the high demand for the document since most people depend on it for cross-border travel for various reasons.

Last week, government fixed passport fees in US dollars, indirectly increasing the cost of acquiring the document, purportedly to mobilise resources to clear a 256 000 backlog.

The review resulted in passport fees being pegged at US$60 ordinary and US$200 for a three-day one or their equivalent in local currency. An emergency 24-hour passport remains pegged at US$318.

It is the responsibility of the government to provide services without constraining its citizens. But looking at the reasons for the fee hikes, the burden of providing the important travel documents is placed on the shoulders of the citizens.

It would appear like government still believes that owning a passport is a privilege rather than a right.

Questions are being raised as to whether the government is for ordinary people or the rich.

The country is in the throes of an economic and political crisis which calls for citizens to run around and even cross borders to eke out a living because of lack of formal employment. The deterrent fees will inhibit many from accessing the travel document and this spells doom for their sources of livelihood.

Also, the aspect of citizens having to wait for long to get their passport after standing in long queues to submit their applications makes no sense considering that other countries have adopted technology which makes it possible for applicants to access the document within the shortest period possible.

For Zimbabwe it is as if we are going back to the Stone Age where everything was done manually. It is the duty of the government to change the status quo.

Government must stop worsening the plight of its citizens by indirectly restricting them from travelling abroad. That is unfair. It must make passport acquisition easy and quick to enable the citizens to survive through other means since the government is not able to provide for them.

Source - newsday
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