Vincent Gono recently in Nkayi
THE Government says it is committed to providing citizens with birth certificates and national identity particulars contrary to political sentiments that it is reluctant to give such documentation to communities in the Matabeleland region, especially those that were affected by post-independence disturbances.
In an interview on the sidelines of the occasion to hand over the district registry offices in Nkayi, Matabeleland North on Thursday, Registrar-General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede said his department was doing everything in its power to ensure that the country’s citizenry get the necessary national registration particulars.
The Registrar-General dismissed as absurd and baseless sentiments that the Government was reluctant to issue out birth certificates and national identity documents to people in Tsholotsho and other places of Matabeleland North for reasons that were linked to post-independence disturbances.
He said although Matabeleland North was among the country’s provinces where a number of people have no national registration particulars, the reasons were far from being political.
“There were reports that people in Tsholotsho and other parts of Matabeleland North were being denied national registration documents. We went there as a department and we were told a different story. There is no deliberate policy by any other Government department to deny anyone such documentation.
“The communities there told us a different story. They said most of their children went to South Africa and left their kids in the care of their grandparents who are reluctant to get the particulars for their grandchildren. And at times they will not be having the necessary papers,” said Mr Mudede.
He said such talk is the work of political vultures that would be lurking in the background to try and discredit the Government.
“That’s a political fallacy meant to discredit the Government. And such sentiments usually spring up when we go towards elections. But there is nothing like that, there is no truth in it. Poems were done when we visited the district with children imploring their parents to make sure they get them the necessary registration paperwork that makes their lives a lot easier at school and in life,” said Mr Mudede.
He said it was worrying that communities give value to cattle by branding yet their children do not have birth certificates.
The Registrar-General also said efforts were being put in place to ensure a complete decentralisation of his office for easy access especially on birth certificates and national identity documents registration.
“We have long decentralised our operations to districts, that is for birth certificates and national identity documents. We want the communities to have easy access to those things but the issuance of passports will remain centralised. We have only decentralised passport application and distribution to provinces. We are unlikely to completely decentralise the issuance of passports to districts and provinces because of their strict security nature in line with the security dictates of Interpol and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO),” said Mr Mudede.
Turning to the handing over of registry offices in Nkayi he said he was happy with the level of progress. Mr Mudede said he was going to make sure that the offices were computerised and connected to the main satellite system in Harare.
“My team will be coming here to do the connections. We want to make sure we move into the offices soon so that the communities benefit,” he said.
Mr Mudede said his department was aware of the problematic reality that there were certain communities where children and adults were living without birth certificates and was reaching out to them to have access to the important documents. The Constitution, however, in Section 81 (1) (b) stipulates that, “Every child, that is to say every boy and girl under the age of 18 years has the right to be given a name and family name. It says a notice of birth should be given to the Registrar at the nearest birth and death registration office in your district with 42 days and where there was a still birth, such a notice should be done as soon as possible or within 30 days.”
Mr Mudede said it was therefore, a crime for people to fail to register their children as it was a violation of their (children) rights as well. He said although the law states that people could be arrested and prosecuted he sat down with his team and agreed that they would not push for the full enforcement of the law.
“We sat down with the team and agreed that it was not necessary to cause the arrest and prosecution of violators of the law. We therefore continue with the crusade of encouraging parents to acquire the important registration documents for their children in time as the documentation help them in realising other rights as access to education, legal rights and protection as well as other social services,” he said.
Mr Mudede said if someone was not registered it meant that they were not known to be existing and their gender was also not known and it distorts national planning.