Passports like hens’ teeth for Zimbabweans

Staff Writer | Jul 03, 2019
The country no longer has forex to pay for passport materials.

Zimbabweans without passports are now effectively trapped in that country. The country’s government no longer has access to enough forex to pay for the materials to print passports, such as ink and blank documents.

According to government officials, even urgent applicants still have to wait 18 months before they can even submit an application for a travel document.

This is only the latest in the country’s ongoing economic crisis. In June it was reported that the Zimbabwean year-on-year inflation rate had reached almost 100%, the highest in the world after Venezuela. 

Zimbabwe is also looking to reintroduce its own currency. It abandoned the Zimbabwean dollar a decade ago after hyperinflation had destroyed its value. The country’s citizens now use foreign currencies (especially the American dollar and South African rand).

The outlook for the country does not look good; both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have forecast that the Zimbabwean economy will shrink this year.

Given the fact that the Zimbabwean state can no longer fulfil even its most basic duties (such as issuing of passports), it is not a stretch to say that it is very close to being a failed state.

South Africans would do well to remember that the two-decade long crisis in our northern neighbour began when the government began to take property without paying for it. Clever people (and societies) learn from the mistakes of others. Let’s hope that the government learns from the continuing crisis across the Limpopo.


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