THE government has run out of passports and vehicle registration number plates.

This has forced many Zimbabweans to wait for long periods to get them, the result of the shortage of US dollars in the country.

A hoped-for economic turnaround under President Emmerson Mnangagwa is yet to materialise.

Zimbabweans are instead enduring shortages of fuel and bread and 15-hour power cuts.

Last week, the government renamed its interim currency, the RTGS dollar, the Zimbabwean dollar and made it the country’s sole legal tender.

At the passport office in Harare yesterday, hundreds of people huddled in the morning winter cold after arriving as early as 5am to queue for their passport applications. They were told to check their documents in 2022.

That is because a special paper and ink used to make passports has to be imported, but there is no foreign currency.

Bothwell Mhashu, one of those queueing, said he wanted to escape the economic troubles and join his elder brother in Namibia. He applied for a passport in June last year and was supposed to get it after three months.

“They just told me my passport was not ready, I have to check again in August,” Mhashu said.

Registrar-general Clemence Masango declined to comment.

Other officials said there were plans to print passports locally.

But they have to import the equipment needed.

At the vehicle registry, officials told motorists they were not sure when number plates would be available because the department was still waiting for foreign currency from the central bank to pay a German supplier. – REUTERS