Photograph — Independent

The economic woes of Zimbabwe continue to deepen as the government orders a halt in the issuing of passports to its citizens citing a shortage in foreign currency. The southern African country has been operating on low cash flow, food, and fuel is also now unable to import materials used in the printing of international passports. Citizens seeking to get a new passport or renew expired ones have been asked to return in 2021. 

This crisis doesn’t look like it will be sorted anytime soon, the passport office says it hopes to have cleared its backlog of over 300,000 applicants by 2021 before it can start processing new passport applications.

Angered over this development, Zimbabweans react, “I feel trapped. What is worse is that I cannot live in Zimbabwe because of the economic situation. My family depends on me to send money back home when I am at my job in Namibia but now I don’t know what to do next,” said Emelda Rukawo who resides in Namibia but returned home to renew her passport before the ridiculous announcement was made.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) describes the situation as one major human rights challenge affecting the country. “The commission will inquire into and determine the root causes and factors which prevent easy access to identity documents, particularly passports, and to assess the impact of documentation by individuals and groups on the enjoyment of human rights, guaranteed under the constitution, national laws and relevant international and regional treaties and instruments,” the ZHRC said in a statement.

The passport office currently prints five to 10 passports daily solely on diplomatic grounds or very special cases approved by the country’s minister of home affairs.

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