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
“The normal passport application procedure is going on and non-biometric passports will work until they expire”
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?
“In 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.”
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.
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.