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Govt makes u-turn on CBZ e-passport fee following public outrage

Govt makes u-turn on CBZ e-passport fee following public outrage

Government has scrapped a legal requirement authorising CBZ to collect a US$20 application fee on each e-passport produced.

This follows new e-passport regulations gazetted by the Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage minister Kazembe Kazembe on Friday.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) had raised objection over the bank’s monopoly after Government gazetted e-passport production project, under Statutory Instrument 273 of 2021, which made the cost of an e-passport more expensive due to a US$20 CBZ application fee.

In terms of the now scrapped regulations, CBZ bank was charged with the processing of all applications at an additional cost of a US$20 fee.

The US$20 would be an additional cost to the US$100 (cost of normal processing of a new e-passport) and US$200 (cost of urgent processing of an emergency passport) which each consumer would pay.

ZLHR immediately requested “to be provided with the procedures and criterion used to designate CBZ bank as the entity to be processing e-passports,” in the interest of public accountability and transparency.

The public outrage now appears to have forced Government to scrap the US$20 fee. Zim Morning Post understands that CBZ will still benefit from the deal as the bank will process e-passport payments on behalf of Government. It is unclear to which percentage of the deal that has two other players being Government and Garsu Pasaulis.

The e-passport was launched after Government entered into a partnership with a Lithuanian company, Garsu Pasaulis, on a build, own, operate and transfer basis to produce the new passports that meet modern international standards that will allow Zimbabweans to travel without additional complications.

However, at the time of going to print, the country had not moved to the production of e-passports as the Lithuanian company is yet to move its equipment into the country.

Zimbabweans have been given up to end of December 2023 to move onto the e-passport at which time the current passport will no longer be recognized internationally.