One million registered under blitz

A MILESTONE has been reached in the issuance of national documents such as birth certificates and identity cards under the ongoing mobile registration exercise that ends this month, with over one million obtaining the documents.

The Civil Registry Department is on a national crusade to provide citizens with national documents which are critical in the enjoyment of their rights.

The blitz started in April and will run until September 30.

Since it started, the Registry Department has been operating every day including weekends and holidays to capture as many people as possible.

The outreach programme was partly prompted by the fact that during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the department was not issuing national documents resulting in a backlog.

To ensure that members of the public access national documents, President Mnangagwa earlier this year instructed the registry department to relax conditions which were restricting some citizens from obtaining birth certificates, IDs and even death certificates for their loved ones.

In an interview, Registrar-General Mr Henry Machiri said more than a million citizens have accessed national documents following the relaxation of terms.

“We are happy so far with what we have done. We have registered more than a million people countrywide for birth certificates, IDs and we feel during the month of September, which is the last month of the exercise, more people can still be registered. I’m persuading, encouraging our citizens to come forward and be registered,” said Mr Machiri.

He said members of the public were previously struggling to obtain the documents due to the strict requirements of the law.

Mr Machiri said President Mnangagwa’s directive to relax the requirements for acquiring the documents has benefited hundreds of people particularly in Matabeleland region where children with parents based abroad were struggling to get birth certificates.

“If we talk about Matabeleland region, we have children who are brought by omalayitsha (from South Africa) whose parents will be based outside the country and left in the custody of their grandparents. According to the Births and Deaths Registration Act, it is the parents who are supposed to register that child,” said Mr Machiri.

“But what we have done during this exercise which we started on April 1 and will end on September 30, we have relaxed to say, fine the parents are outside the country and the child is here with grandparents and as long as the grandfather or grandmother knows the particulars that are supposed to be on the form, we are accepting.”

He said in cases where two witnesses were required at law to confirm the birth of a child for the obtaining of national documents, they were now accepting a single witness.

Mr Machiri said they were fulfilling President Mnangagwa’s national pledge that no one should be left without national documents that enable them to enjoy rights as citizens.

“In fact situations differ from case to case and according to leaders of each mobile team, they will look at the case and make sure that the person is assisted. Remember what the President said, he said no one must be left behind and we should make sure that we assist as many people as possible and this is our thrust. People who come forward to register must be registered,” he said.

Mr Machiri said at the same time, the department is screening to ensure that non- Zimbabweans do not abuse the relaxed systems to obtain documents they do not deserve.

He said the department has also deployed more teams to communities that were considered marginalised.

“We have areas such as Binga where we made sure that we go village by village. We created more teams for those areas which we knew that we could not assist before. We have the San community in Tsholotsho and Bulilima, those relaxations were done, we have gone to them and we have done those registrations. Even in Mashonaland we have the Doma people, they have their cultures and beliefs and our relaxation has assisted those people to be registered,” said Mr Machiri.

He called on citizens without national documents to take advantage of this final month of the exercise.

Mr Machiri said the registry department will revisit some communities that were not adequately covered in the exercise.

“We are saying it’s only a month to go please let’s utilise this window. Let those who have not been registered come forward and get national documents. It could be birth certificates, death certificates of late relatives and even the ID itself, come forward and be registered,” he said.

“We are also reviewing the exercise to say if there are any areas which we think we need to mop up we will be going to those areas in consultation with the community leaders if they say there is an area which they believe was not covered adequately.”

Our Bulawayo Bureau spoke with some people who commended the Government for relaxing the registration requirements.

Ms Sibongile Ncube (41) from Ntabazinduna in Umguza District, Matabeleland North, said relaxation of requirements enabled her to obtain a birth certificate, as her mother died before she could get one.

“I had no hope that I was going to get a birth certificate for my five-year-old child since I also did not have one myself. But I’m happy that through this programme, I have managed to get birth certificates, both for my child and myself.

‘‘What I liked about the services is that the people there understood my story. My mother died before she could obtain a birth certificate for me and this had led me not to have it. Even my child did not have the birth certificate,” said Ms Ncube.

She said the registry workers listened to her and assisted her to obtain the document that enables her to become fully Zimbabwean.

Mr Aaron Sibanda from Fairbridge Police Camp said the outbreak of Covid-19 had hindered him from obtaining national documents for his children.

“I came to apply for birth certificates for my two children and the process was smooth and fast. I could not process their documents due to the Covid-19 lockdowns. This programme has made it easy for me to get these crucial documents. I do not think anyone can blame the Government for not having these documents because the staff are going all out to assist us,” said Mr Sibanda.

Members of the public also commended the deployed registry officers for being humane in attending to their different cases.

In the past the registry officers had gained notoriety for mistreating members of the public who approached them for services.Herald

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