Getting a passport can be vital for making a living but mounting hidden costs are making it tougher to access one, despite the government recently slashing passport fees. Fees have been reduced from US$140 to $50, but the document can cost up to $120 or even $300, as Theresa Makone, the joint minister of home affairs, discovered on an impromptu visit to the Harare office which issues passports.
Makone, whose visit to the office had been prompted by allegations of corruption, acknowledged that police and officials at the Registrar General’s office were asking for bribes from those seeking passports, birth certificates or other ID documents.
“After what I have seen here today, it seems serious investigations have to be carried out… Passports are supposed to be a birthright, not a privilege. People should not have hassles in accessing passports,” she said. Passports are critical for the many Zimbabweans who have been forced to seek jobs outside their own country.
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