Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT has suspended the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council June examinations for 2021 while Treasury is set to release US$4,5 million to the Registrar General’s Office towards the clearing of a 256 000 passport backlog.
Cabinet adopted new passport fees which will result in an ordinary passport going out for US$60, a three-day passport costing US$200 and a 24-hour emergency passport being obtained for US$318.
An ordinary passport was being obtained for $600 which is equivalent to US$7 using the auction rate.
The new measures were adopted during the 9th 2021 Cabinet meeting held yesterday.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa briefing the Press after the Cabinet meeting, said Covid-19 has disrupted the education sector forcing the call-off of June public examinations.
“Cabinet considered and approved a request for the suspension of the Zimsec June 2021 Ordinary and Advanced Level Examination Session, which was presented by the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education (Cain Mathema). Cabinet was advised that the Covid-19 pandemic that broke out in 2020 had negatively impacted the timing and cycle of public examinations, with the 2020 Grade 7, O-level and A-level examinations having commenced in early December 2020 and ended in early February 2021, instead of the usual period stretching from October to November of each year,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“The delay in writing and the marking of the previous examinations has affected the preparation and the setting of the next examination hence the decision to temporarily suspend the June 2021 examinations. This suspension of the June 2021 examination session will allow for timely focus on the November examination preparations and aid an effective focus of resources.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government will make arrangements to ensure that candidates who wanted to write in June are accommodated in November.
She said Government was also seized with reducing a passport backlog which stands at 256 000 against less than 2 000 passports being printed daily.
The minister said passport fees being charged at the moment were no longer cost-effective hence Government approved the new fees.
“Cabinet agreed that measures be taken to deal effectively with the current situation which is affecting locals and Diasporans alike. Thus, passport fees were reviewed to US$60 for ordinary passport, US$200 for a three-day passport issuance. An emergency 24-hours passport remains pegged at US$318. The new fees will ensure appropriate cost-factored passport revenue. E-Passport fees are pegged at US$80. In addition, Treasury will provide US$4,5 million to purchase the required equipment and consumables,” said the Minister.
She said Government was committed to addressing the passport backlog and has engaged local universities to come up with import substitution for consumables used in the production of the travel document.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government will produce a Covid-19 vaccination certificate with enhanced security features after it emerged that some people were tampering with the existing one.
“Government in liaison with Fidelity Printers and the Registrar Generals’ Office has strengthened security measures through designing a water-tight Vaccination Certificate Card. The Card, to be printed by Fidelity Printers, will exhibit the following features: invisible coat of arms, which shines under UV Light; fluorescent numbering; water-marked security paper; micro text underground and guilloche pattern,” said Minister Mutsvangwa. — @nqotshili.