New passports are near impossible to obtain in Zimbabwe as the African nation faces its worst economic crisis in more than a decade.
Applicants seeking new or renewed passports face an indefinite wait, leaving many citizens unable to leave the country. Bloomberg reported the country’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, said the company that produces the passports is refusing to print anything until the government has cleared its debts.
It’s also being widely reported that the country simply doesn’t have the money to import the ink and paper needed.
Millions have fled the country in the last 20 years, looking abroad for work as the economic outlook for Zimbabwe worsens, with necessities such as medicine, bread and petrol running short and power cuts often lasting 19 hours per day.
Even urgent applicants are being asked to wait a minimum of 18 months before they can submit their applications.
“Last month, the urgent applicants were being told to come back at the end of 2020,” one official at the passport office told AFP.
The official added only 10 passports were being printed per day despite a backlog of 280,000.
“We have the capacity to clear the backlog in a very short time, but all the machinery is lying idle right now,” she said.