Forex crunch hits passports

HARARE - The Zimbabwe government has temporarily stopped issuing new passports to citizens because of a shortage of hard cash to import special ink and paper used to print the travel documents. Authoritative sources said Registrar General (RG) Tobaiwa Mudede's department was only issuing emergenc

y passports to senior government officials who may need them or to individuals who can produce evidence that they wish to travel abroad for emergency medical treatment.

The rest of Zimbabweans can only get temporary emergency travel documents (ETD) to enable them to visit specific destinations. “People can still make applications for new passports . . . but we have suspended the printing of new passports until the end of next month,” said an official in the RG’s department, who declined to be named for fear he could be victimised by his superiors for disclosing the crisis at the passport office to the media.

Mudede was not available for comment while his deputy, Ben Mpala, refused to take questions on the matter. The shortage of material to make passports is only the latest in a series of shortages of critical commodities because there is no hard cash to pay foreign suppliers.

The move will hit hard thousands of unemployed Zimbabweans, who eke out a living by importing cheaper priced goods from neighbouring countries for resale in Zimbabwe.

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