Zimbabwe Stops Issuing Passports As Cash Shortage Hits Crisis Levels

According to Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the reintroduction of the Zimbabwean dollar (which was officially abandoned a decade ago), the banning of the use of other international currencies, and the resulting hyperinflation (analysts are already forecasting a 100% inflation rate for 2019) are simply important steps to "restoring normalcy to our economy."

But as anybody who has lived in, or visited, Zimbabwe over the past couple of decades, "normal" isn't exactly a high bar. Considering that, under ex-leader Robert Mugabe, the Zim dollar once depreciated to 35 quadrillion per $1 (transforming the wheelbarrow into an essential tool for facilitating routine, every-day transactions like buying groceries), we'd think Zimbabweans are looking for something different, rather than a return to the country's insanely dysfunctional status quo.


One economist last week tagged Zimbabwe's present real rate of inflation at nearly 500%, as Zimbabwe's economy slides back into crisis and its currency rapidly depreciates against the dollar.


Of course, Mnangagwa's decision to revive the hated Zim dollar might be more pragmatic than it first appears: After all, South Africa banks had largely cut Zim off from the country's most stable supply of American dollars (the de facto currency of choice for Zimbabweans hoping to protect their wealth), so Mnangagwa's decision to 'ban' the greenback might be the political equivalent of shouting 'you can't fire me because I quit!' at a former employer.

But regardless of the government's motives, this doesn't change the fact that Zimbabweans have been struggling with shortages of cash, fuel and electricity for months. And now, the country's 'everything shortage' is impacting the hopes and dreams of any Zimbabwean who still harbors hopes of leaving Zimbabwe.


That's right: Zimbabwe's government is so broke, the company that prints its passports is refusing to supply any new booklets until the government has taken care of its debts.

Here's more from Bloomberg:

Now, even passports are almost impossible to get.

Tendai Mpofu applied for new passports for his sons more than two months ago. Their current ones expire this month, just when they’re due to travel to South Africa for a school sports event. It may be a long wait before they get new documents.

With inflation at almost 100% and an acute lack of foreign currency, Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis in more than a decade. While President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said that the passport company is refusing to print anything until the government has cleared its debts, others say Zimbabwe is simply too broke to import the ink and paper needed.

And it's not only passports that are in short supply: The government is also running out of the cheap plastic it uses to print ID cards.

An official at the passport office said the situation is "dire" and passports were only being issued for emergencies. Identity cards are also hard to come by - metal cards were replaced with plastic ones but now plastic is in short supply.

No need to panic, though - the government has the (admittedly dire) situation under control.

Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema told the state-run Herald newspaper recently that things will improve and that the government was “working on it.”