Zimbabwe’s Passport Price Hike: A need turned necessity
On November 30th, 2023, Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister, Hon. Mthulisi Ncube, presented his proposed budget, including a significant price hike for both ordinary and emergency passports. Ordinary passports will increase from $120 USD to $200 USD, while emergency passports will jump from $200 USD to $300 USD. This increase, if approved by parliament and the president, will take effect January 1st, 2024.
This announcement caused widespread panic among Zimbabweans, leading to long queues at passport offices as citizens rush to obtain their documents before the price increase. This situation highlights a crucial shift: a passport in Zimbabwe has transformed from a desired asset to a crucial necessity.
Several factors contribute to this growing need. Many Zimbabweans seek greener pastures by relocating to neighboring countries like South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia, or even further afield to Europe, America, and Asia. Just before the August general elections, a large number of Zimbabweans, particularly nurses, migrated to their former colony, Britain.
However, the upcoming passport price hike raises a critical question: how many people will still be able to afford this essential document? While the Zimbabwean passport currently ranks 140th in the world according to the Visa Guide Passport Index, it still grants visa-free access to 39 countries, offering valuable travel opportunities. The passport expires after 10 years from the date of issue.
A recent survey by My Afrika Magazine further reveals the strong desire for relocation among Zimbabweans. 42% of participants expressed a desire to move to the USA, 36% to Canada, and 7% each for the UK, Australia, and Japan.
These aspirations, coupled with the necessity of a passport for travel and relocation, create a challenging scenario for many Zimbabweans. The upcoming price hike will undoubtedly restrict access to this crucial document for many, potentially limiting their opportunities and aspirations.
The government’s decision to raise passport prices requires careful consideration of its impact on the lives of its citizens. Striking a balance between generating revenue and ensuring affordability is essential to ensuring that a passport remains accessible to all Zimbabweans, regardless of their financial circumstances.