HomeOpinionEnter the Covid passport: A new apartheid system

Enter the Covid passport: A new apartheid system

Mufaro Makubika

I stumble off the plane. It’s seven in the morning and it’s freezing cold. Half an hour ago I was downing a bottle of miniature red at 20 000 feet. I live wild! What can I say? I’ve been up for the best part of 18 hours.

I stink like everyone else on the plane. I’m tired. Plane food always sits badly in my stomach. An orchestra has started up in there and it’s nearing a crescendo! I race along those “walky thingys” at the airport that make you walk faster, but not escalators.

You know the things I’m talking about, right? Those things. Cutting through people like Lewis Hamilton. I’m going for pole, man! The official at the end of the line shouts British passport holders this way and the rest that way. Where to go?

That sounds like an odd question, right? Isn’t one just supposed to have one identity? In reality it’s not such an odd thing in our world. In a world where faraway lands are physically accessible within hours.

Many Zimbabweans living abroad have some sort of dual citizenship, multiple passports. Some earned by the amount and colour of money in your pockets. The great artist Jay-Z goes on about having five passports in one of his songs! Yes, you read right, five passports! I wouldn’t mind that at all, thank you.

Where do I sign up? Alright, I’ll concede that’s an extreme example. Citizenships are earned through dogged years of lives lived abroad and whatever immigration systems navigated to gain said citizenship. Some are earned at birth. A new generation. It matters not how these citizenships are earned. I think
what’s important is what they represent for the individual. What they say about our world now more than ever.

I’m on tangent here, go with me. So, what really do multiple citizenships really mean? I think well at the core of it is the passport. According to the Oxford dictionary, a passport is an official document issued by a government certifying the holder’s identity and citizenship and entitling them to travel under its protection to and from foreign countries. That’s really long. Anyway, it simply means you can pass through ports. Move about. That the gist of it. A freedom of movement if the conditions are ideal.

A new passport in on the cards. Out with the old, in with the new. The whole thing is undergoing a revolution, so the whispers say. One old grandee of British politics has suggested the idea of “Covid Passports”. What are these you may ask? Let me explain.

In this new world, this Covid passport would allow an individual to travel by being digitally tracked around the world. In essence a new type of freedom. Freedom, that god-given right. My favourite! Where am I? I was talking about passports. This new Covid digital passport would contain information about whether you’ve had the vaccine or not and what Covid test results were. That’s really long as well.

So, it means without a Covid passport you wouldn’t be able to travel abroad. That’s a big problem. I know some of you conspiracy nuts out there are already screaming at the paper. Did you just say they can digitally track you around the world? Yes, that’s the idea. Take my example from earlier, I mean if say the American government really wanted to digitally track Jay-Z they could. In a time of war and make no mistake we are in one, a Covid vaccine war. This is a frightening infringement on that god-given right of Freedom. A vaccine apartheid if you like.

Without a digital mark in your passport, you would not be able to travel. Zimbabwe is still waiting for its vaccine. Most of Africa is still waiting for the vaccine. This is pulling up the drawbridge type of stuff.

Does this mean doing away with the old passports? Why stop at sharing an individual’s Covid test results, why not a human being’s whole health history. Where does it stop? The truth is, I’m not sure.

Like I said, we are entering a brave new world. Earlier I conceded that Jay-Z was an extreme example. I take that back. Maybe he isn’t an extreme at all. Maybe we’ll all be like Jay-Z and need five passports. Let’s also hope for Jay-Z’s sake he gets a shot of that vaccine because without it all those passports won’t mean a thing.

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