The Zimbabwe government will start issuing plastic driver’s licences soon according to reports in the state media. This is a follow-up to similar announcements that were made last year (in 2022). The government has already issued designs to the SADC community for approval and is in the process of procuring the necessary equipment and accessories required to begin the process although they are holding off on buying the printers because they would depend on their designs being approved.
A step in the right direction-the story of metal national IDS
Once upon a time, people used to get metal IDs when they turned 18. These metal IDs would replace the so-called green pass paper ID that people got when they turned 16. The Zimbabwean government moved away from metal IDs decades ago because they are difficult to produce and are not even as indestructible as some people seem to think. While the metal itself would survive most normal fires the ink with the details probably wont. In the meantime, plastic IDs tend to be very durable for the most part and can survive a lot of normal wear and tear. Besides they are easy and cheap to replace so when you lose your ID you do not have to wait months or years to get it replaced as was the case during the metal ID days.
It is therefore only natural and sensible for the government to start printing plastic licence discs as well given how well the technology has come over the years. The IDs have been an ideal proving ground when it comes to using plastic licences. Besides most countries switched to plastic licences years ago including South Africa. These have been well received and have proven to be more than good enough for the job. In comparison, the tech used by VID to print metal discs has been plagued by various issues including shortages of necessary items, frequent breakdowns and obsolescence. There has been backlogs lasting years and people are forced to drive around with their paper licences and IDs instead.
Plastic licence discs would also come with certain advantages. They could come with an expiry date where they expire after a given time. This is quite common in other countries and forces drivers to keep abreast with road rules and signs as they must take a retake whenever they get their licence renewed. The licences could also be linked to a digital database that can be used to manage and check fines and create a points system. All these things improve safety on roads.