Even passports are scarce as Zimbabwe runs out of everything

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Zimbabweans have been struggling with shortages of cash, fuel and electricity for months. Now, even passports are almost impossible to get.

Tendai Mpofu applied for new passports for his sons more than two months ago. Their current ones expire this month, just when they’re due to travel to South Africa for a school sports event. It may be a long wait before they get new documents.

With inflation at almost 100% and an acute lack of foreign currency, Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis in more than a decade. While President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said that the passport company is refusing to print anything until the government has cleared its debts, others say Zimbabwe is simply too broke to import the ink and paper needed.

An official at the passport office said the situation is “dire” and passports were only being issued for emergencies. Identity cards are also hard to come by - metal cards were replaced with plastic ones but now plastic is in short supply.

Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema told the state-run Herald newspaper recently that things will improve and that the government was “working on it.”

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