The Passport That Takes You Nowhere

In Zimbabwe’s early years travel was so easy for a number of her citizens. Getting together all the necessary items to take your family on holiday was not a difficult task. Applying for a getting a passport if you didn’t have one was simple. Getting money for travel, accommodation and spending was not a problem either. Best of all, passage into a number of countries worldwide was a breeze. You could travel to quite a few visa free and if you needed a visa the application process was simple and approval almost certainly guaranteed.Nowadays, it is a completely different story.
Traveling on a Zimbabwe passport can be a little tricky. You need a visa to visit a number of countries. A few years ago Zimbabwe introduced machine readable passports but some of the Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have not yet gotten a chance to get themselves one. They are still traveling on the old style non-machine readable and handwritten passport. These old passports can lengthen processing times at border controls and. I have an old style passport and have even been stopped at the air bridge. This happened to me when boarding flights in Johannesburg, Dallas and Stockholm. The authenticity of my passport is what was being questioned. This was such an inconvenience and embarrassing as I was made to stand aside with an official standing next to me waiting to question me as my flights boarded.A few weeks ago I got to listen in on a conversation between a Zimbabwean and the former Immigration Minister (New Zealand). He mentioned how it was in his era that they started up a unit Immigration Profiling Group (IPG) that handles all visa applications from a list of countries that they deem as high risk. These countries are where there is political unrest of whom its citizens may decide to not return if allowed passage into New Zealand. He mentioned that Zimbabwe was at the top of the list of African countries. Visa applications normally take weeks but if you have the misfortune of being a citizen of a country whose applications have to go through IPG you are looking at a wait time of about 6 months. This is ridiculous when all you want to do is visit a country even after that six month wait period your application may be declined. If you are a 23 year old person who has not travelled at all and doesn’t have any real reason to return to your homeland you can forget about it. This is sure to be the same for a number of Western countries around the world who are imposing sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Anything and everything is just becoming harder for Zimbabweans but, there are a number in the Diaspora who have been able to become residents of the countries they are living and working in which does give them a bit of peace of mind in knowing that they do not have to worry about what to do when their visas/permits expire.


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