“Passport office closes“, screamed the Financial Gazette newspaper billboards along Samora Machel Avenue as I made my way to work. It’s just another day in Harare where we get to hear more news about what’s in short supply. We have had fuel shortages, forex shortages and now – passports! One wonders what’s next? I was thinking aloud what would happen if there was a shortage of condoms.
My passport issued in 1998 expires in February 2008 and I began using it in 2004. All along it was just one of those documents that you had to have because you never know when you are going to use it. A colleague has just told me to start applying for a new passport because you never know how long it will take to get a new passport issued! I can clearly state that one of my resolutions for 2007 is to apply for a new passport and make sure that it is issued by December.
Early this year one of my friends, whom I will call Jabulani got fed up with Zimbabwe and migrated to South Africa. Even though he had a passport, he left it behind. On asking him why he would not carry his passport he said; “If I overstay in South Africa, the South African government will look for me”. He went on to say; “If I just cross to South Africa with no passport, I’m not known to the authorities”.
Jabulani is one of the hundreds of people that every week risk life and limb to cross the crocodile infested Limpopo river into South Africa. For those that have money, you can travel on the cross border taxis and enter South Africa through the border even if you have no passport. It’s your money that speaks and gets things going.