Zimbabwe has reportedly run out of passports forcing citizens to wait for long periods to get them. The shortage has been attributed to the scarcity of foreign currency which is needed for the importation of material to print the passports.
This comes at a time when the Central Vehicle Registration (CVR) has also reportedly run out of registration number plates.
Reuters reports that hundreds of people gathered at the passport office in Harare on Wednesday to queue to apply for passports but were told to check their documents in 2022.
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One passport seeker, Bothwell Mhashu who applied for his passport in June 2018 fumed over the delay in getting his passport. He said that he wanted to escape the economic woes and join his brother in Namibia. As he left the passport offices, Mhashu said:
They just told me that my passport is not ready, I have to check again in August. This is not fair.
The situation at the offices has reportedly deteriorated, bringing memories of 2008 where Zimbabweans would sleep at the passport office to be first in line to apply.
An ordinary passport costs ZW$53 Zimbabwe dollars which translates to about US$6.32). An emergency 24-hour document costs while ZW$318. No emergency passports are being issued except for a few senior officials.
Reuters reports that officials at the registrar general’s office revealed plans to print passports locally at central bank-owned Fidelity Printers and Refiners when and if they can import the equipment needed. There is reportedly a pile-up of about 50 000 passports that need to be processed.