Editorial Comment

THE political and socio-economic crises in Zimbabwe is slowly edging towards the tipping point as espoused by the Registrar-General (RG) Office’s failure to issue passports and standard national ID cards to citizens.

The RG’s Office last week suspended the processing of travelling documents allegedly due to technical glitches although there could be more behind that story.

Indications are that the imploding economic situation in the country, characterised by little and intermittent foreign currency inflows, has seen important services competing for the little available money.

This has seen the RG’s Office failing to produce passports in time — with some people who applied for the $53 standard passport nearly a year ago, still to get their documents — because the office has run out of the special passport paper.

Those who have lost their national identity cards — either the old metal version or the new plastic one — are currently being given the old, handwritten identity document with a black and white picture.

The problem with this piece of paper is that is can be easily forged and there have been cases of people who failed to access money at financial institutions as the identity document cannot be verified as authentic.

Meanwhile, thousands of people have been left stranded with some bound to miss important events outside the country, including medical appointments, because they cannot immediately get their passports.

It is understood that the last batch of normal applicant passports to be released was the one applied for before July 20, 2018.

The material needed for processing passports are normally imported from Israel and without the United States dollar, government appears to be no longer able to import those.

These challenges speak to the government’s failure to implement the necessary economic reforms as well as to the widespread abuse of natural resources such as diamonds, whose income could have been used to fund the country’s budget.

When a country fails to issues its citizens with identity documents, this implies it has hit rock bottom. Unless the necessary political and economic reforms are effected, then the downward spiral is likely to continue with no hope in sight.

It is shocking that a country can literally hold its nationals hostage as they cannot travel because the country is not able to produce passports, while many young people who need to acquire national IDs to be able to write their final high school examinations will also be stuck.

The government must do some serious soul-searching and find ways of doing things the right way as any responsible government would do.