Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Registrar-General Mr Clement Masango yesterday dismissed social media reports alleging that passport fees are set to be increased soon, saying Government had a well-structured method of conveying such messages.
In an interview, Mr Masango said production of passports resumed last Friday afternoon after a system malfunction owing to a technical fault.
“There have been reports on social media alleging that passport fees will be hiked,” he said. “That is not true. I am concerned as the Registrar- General that some people seem to thrive on creating controversy meant to instil alarm and despondency in society.
“This kind of behaviour must be condemned in the strongest terms. To members of the public, I would want to say it is not Government practice to communicate official matters through social media. There are no plans to revise passport fees upwards as alleged by the social media.”
According to the online reports, fees for a normal passport were set to rise from $53 to $253. It had also been reported that fees for an urgent passport would go up from $253 to $800.
The reports of a passport fee review coincided with a temporary halt in the issuance of passports due to the technical fault.
“The stoppage was as a result of system malfunction,” said Mr Masango. “It was rectified and by Friday afternoon production had resumed. There is, therefore, no need for members of the public to panic.
“The situation is under control and production of passports has since resumed after that temporary setback. As a department, we want to apologise to our stakeholders for the inconvenience that they went through as a result of that stoppage.”
The RG’s Office is working round the clock to clear a passport backlog which has also been spawned by escalating for the prized document.
The Passport Office has also had to content with limited financial resources to procure consumables, thereby taking longer to clear the backlog.
The office is on record as expressing its commitment to clear the backlog, which has been characterised by long and winding queues at the Central Registry in Harare.
The long queues have also created a fertile ground for rent seeking behaviour, with some unscrupulous people cashing in on desperate passport applicants.