e-passports: govt “breaks” CBZ monopoly, plus expiration date for old passports

Valentine Muhamba Avatar
passport office, e-passport, biometric passport Zimbabwe, application online

Update 10/01/2022: First Capital Bank reached out and said that the report by NewsDay was incorrect. First Capital was not part of e-passport application fees process before and after the Statutory Instrument

First Capital Bank has been anointed by the government as the second preferred bank, along with CBZ Holdings, that anyone looking to get an e-passport (or biometric passport) can make their initial US$20 application fee payment according to a report by NewsDay. Now, this whole bank application fee thing is baffling because why should we have to pay twice when all of it can be handled at the Department of the Registrar General?

Moreover, the inclusion of the banks brings the fear of charges… What are CBZ and First Capital’s commissions for this service because there is no bank in the land that is going to dedicate resources and man-hours for nothing? This question hasn’t yet been answered either by the banks themselves or the government.

On the bright side, if you can call it that, the US$20 looks to be a static fee and there were no Ts and Cs that suggested that the banks themselves will be taking a handling fee above the price listed for the e-passport application.

Old passports will work until they expire?

In the same report by NewsDay, The Home Affairs Ministry reportedly said

β€œThe normal passport application procedure is going on and non-biometric passports will work until they expire”

Ministry of Home Affairs (via NewsDay)

So that answers that but why keep applications for old passports going when there was a whole song and dance for the new biometric or e-passports?

β€œIn line with the COVID-19 restrictions and your convenience, issuance of biometric or e-passports is only done online. Anyone can apply for a biometric passport whether your passport has expired or you have it or you have applied before as long as you are a Zimbabwean citizen.”

Ministry of Home Affairs (via NewsDay)

The entire biometric passport announcement was not followed or accompanied by an e-passport application portal and if you go to the Registrar Office’s website they are still showing the prices for the old passports.

Department of the Registrar General (accessed 29/12/2021)

Furthermore, a Google search for an application portal doesn’t bring up any results for Zimbabwe (or maybe I am missing something). All of this suggests that whatever the plan was for these e-passports, it was half baked. A proper roll-out plan would have included the online application portal and the passport on the same day.

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  1. Day in the life

    Despite these small clarifications and concessions, this is still a royally botched launch. And what makes it worse is there will be no censure, no remedial actions taken, no lessons learned, no rolling heads. I swear, sometimes it feels like Zim is doing some kind of “tell me to leave without telling me to leave” challenge πŸ˜‚

    1. BEIT

      Too true πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†πŸ˜†

  2. DK

    First Capital will do the passing of twenty bucks to CBZ. I still cannot make out why both the handling fee and the passport fee cannot be paid at the RGs.

  3. The Empress

    The only reasonable explanations for why the $20 has to be paid at the bank that I can think of are.
    The supplier of the passport making machines and consumables ie the papers, inks, chips etc etc. Had it as a requirement in the contract that they signed with the government in black and white that for every passport they make the $20 would be immediately paid into the company account, without having to go through the red tape of waiting for the finance ministry to release the funds. With stiff penalties for failure to adhere to the set terms of the contract. This was probably done so that as soon as those funds enter the company account they can be immediately expatriated to the companies home country, the Zimbabwean government is notorious for its penchant for unplanned expenditures which they fund through the raiding of foreign currency accounts of any and companies/organisations that operate in Zimbabwe. If anyone other than the government did this it would be called outright theft but governments play by different rules. Lol.
    The other possible reason is that corruption has gotten so bad that we now operating on 100 for you and 20 for me type of rules where they no longer even bother trying to cleverly steal the money from the government treasury. It would be sad to know that this was true but it wound not surprise me.

  4. The Empress

    The statement about the expiry date of the passports should be taken with a shovel, many Shovels of salt after the minister said 2023 was the international agreed cut off date for the use of the old type of passport so while it might be true that the passport is valid in Zimbabwe that’s of no use if other countries are not going to accept it nd then deny you entry. It just becomes a very fancy ID card.

  5. The Empress

    The government was looking for something to that they could show nd boast about so even though the programme itself was not really ready they announced it nd released it. Our government is not the only one guilty of this type of thing,does anyone remember the Cyberpunk 2077 debacle? Besides there’s only so many times that you can officially open a public toilet or wood fired oven before things start looking silly

  6. The Empress

    Government breaks Monopoly and creates a Duopoly without adequately explaining why this system of payment is necessary in the first place. Lol

  7. Tendai Anesu Chigwa

    How do I apply for e passport ?

    1. The Chieftess

      I’m really also wandering, I have tried google but I have just never reached the link to ePassport application, can someone share the application link

  8. BEIT

    Is it really true the INTERNATIONALLY AGREED cut off year is 2023 kana kuti madhiri ekuwunganidza mari ye election campaign 🀨🀨🀨🀨

    1. Don’t Really Know

      This seemingly easy question has been so hard to googleπŸ˜… It looks like there have been multiple deadlines from multiple organisations ranging from the UN to smaller regional organisations, but from what I can see, the general idea was to have almost every nation using machine readable passports by the end of the last decade, according to an ICAO document I found. Incidentally, according to that same document, Zimbabwe had committed to ensuring most non machine readable passports would expire before 24 November 2015πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
      So even after all that research, all I know is we are way overdue in general, that there is at least one international initiative we are part of that has been pushed back on more than one occasion and that your election fundraising theory is as good as any!

  9. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    Someone reasoned that some people pay 10 to 20 dollars to corruptly jump the queue at the RGs office, therefore 20 is a fair price for the handling fee. Done!

    They just took the corruption from the RGs gate to their banking partners. No tender processes involved.

    If anything, this should have been done with the Post Office, because there are Post Offices everywhere. In Bulawayo alone, the PO has more branches than CBZ does nationwide. The PO also has its own courier network, where as CBZ is going to have to pay a courier to professionally transport the documents.

    Absent using the PO, all banks should be allowed to accept passport applications, so long as they meet the handling requirements. Otherwise, we unnecessarily marginalise communities these select banks do not have a presence in.

  10. Bamnin Borny

    Probably our government doesn’t trust itself in anything to do with money