These days it’s now much easier to get your Zimbabwean passport. It’s not yet as easy or cheap as it was around the GNU era days but at least if you pay your US$120 you will know you will get your passport in a week. Things are easier if you are in Harare as it’s just a matter of driving or boarding a bus into town in order to get to the passport offices. Things get a little trickier if you live outside Harare as e-passports are only being processed in Harare at the moment. The government has however announced that the Bulawayo Registrar-General’s offices will be processing e-passport applications at the end of this month-31 March 2022.

Yes, facilities have been put in plac ein Bulawayo to start issuing the e-passports. Bulawayo will be followed by Gwanda.

Minister of Home Affairs Kazembe Kazembe

According to several reports, the necessary CBZ branch that will handle the application fees is already in place at the Bulawayo Office. While no date has been officially set, internally staff at the Registrar-General’s offices are expecting the branch to be fully functional by the end of the month.

In the meantime, the Minister of Home Affairs has urged citizens who applied for the old passport to go and collect them as they are still considered valid. When the government announced the e-passport there was a lot of confusion as to when the old passports would stop working but eventually, the government decreed that the passports will be valid until they expire. Minister Kazembe however acknowledged that if you intend to travel to European and other developed Western nations you might want to opt for an e-passport instead.

The odd plan

So with the old passport, you could apply from virtually any registrar’s office including district offices which make the whole e-passport thing a little disappointing if you are from outside Harare. Things get even worse if you live outside Zimbabwe even in those Western nations where an e-passport would be an advantage. Currently, if you try to apply from outside Zimbabwe you will still get an old passport.

You would think the government would find a solution to this issue first as those who are outside Zimbabwe already would need the e-passport more than those already in Zimbabwe. In the absence of an official solution, several dubious startups have risen up and are now pretending to be the government’s official partners that will allow you to apply for a passport even if you are outside Zimbabwe.

Instead of moving to Gwanda next shouldn’t be the government prioritise an e-passport office in each provincial capital instead? That would make more sense and it would mean everyone around the country would need to travel a shorter distance to get to the nearest e-passport office. That will also allow them to quickly stop producing a passport that will unlikely to be accepted in other nations due to changing security changes. Old passports are getting easier and easier to forge as time passes.