So I have been writing a lot about e-passports on this site and with good reason. Firstly, Zimbabweans see passports as an important part of their lives thanks to the multiple economic crises we have had to endure in the recent past and even now. If you have a passport you can either “escape” or get a job in another country with South Africa as a favourite destination. You also need a passport if you engage in ventures such as cross-border trading and so on. Another reason is the fact that until the e-passport was launched getting a passport was not easy.

Things have been improving with the e-passport project allowing people to get a passport after 7 days. That might not be a big deal in other countries but here it was unheard of. Even during the GNU glory days, you had to wait a couple of weeks at least. Anyway time to talk about the developments:

  • The first one is development is the launch of the booking website. You can now book for an express (US$220) passport online. The website used allows you to pick a date for when you want to visit the Express Centre and submit your papers. It’s a great idea on paper but the execution is a bit undewhelming.
  • The government has finally opened an e-passport office in Bulawayo. We were promised this would be working by month-end. We are now close to the end of March and now it seems that everything is on track. This is good news for those in Matabeleland who no longer have to make the arduos journey to Harare. There is also word that there is an operational e-passport office in Chitungwiza. There has been no corroboration on this except an article from the ZBC and the state broadcaster is not exactly what you would call a reliable source on such matters. When the government is involved in a project they tend to be cheerleaders rather than objective purveyors of news.

More needs to be done

We still have so many centres accepting applications for the old passport. This needs to change. Nowhere is this change needed more than in consulates and in Zimbabwean embassies across the world. The e-passport is the future and more centres need to be producing it.