By Lungile Moyo
Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WICOZ) last week, 28 November 2018, presented a petition to the Register General's office in Bulawayo to demand access to documentation for citizens from Bulawayo and Matabeleland at large.
Speaking during the meeting held at Msitheli Registrars offices branch in Bulawayo with Mrs Jane Peters, the Provincial Registrar for Bulawayo; Mildred Sandi the chairperson for WICOZ in Bulawayo stated that the organisation had decided to take the issue of lack of documentation to the next level after realising that there had been a loud cry from the citizens who cannot access the rightful documents for themselves and their children.
Speaking to Amakhosikazi Media about how this program came into being, Sandi said a baseline survey had been conducted by JEKESA PFUNGWA VULINGQONDO and other organisations on access to documentation in Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Bulawayo in 2017 where about 43 % of 3,970 children in these areas were found to not have official documentation.
Sandi also said that the organisation is doing all this as it has found out that without documentation one has no citizenship. She added that the organisation had drafted the petition following section 56 of the new constitution of Zimbabwe (2013) which talks about equality and non –discrimination of citizens as well as section 35 which also states that all Zimbabwean citizens are entitled to identification.
Mable Moyo, the director of JEKESA PFUNGWA VULINGQONDO who is also working in partnership with WICOZ said that the petition was signed following the failure of the citizens in the city of Bulawayo both the young and old to get documentation such as birth certificates.
“As women’s organisations we have noticed that this has led to an intergenerational chain of unregistered citizens, who are then excluded in education, the legal sector and at the same time fail to participate in political processes due to lack of documentation” said Moyo.
Another concern raised by the organisation to the registrar concerning this issue is that of children who are born out of Zimbabwe who fail to get documents.
“The process involved in getting birth certificates especially for children born out of Zimbabwe is both tedious and expensive such that most care givers especially grandmothers ultimately give up on getting birth certificates for the children. As such these remain stateless” said Stella Mwembe, the director from Self Help for Development Foundation (SHDF) which is also working in partnership with WICOZ in this project.
Concerning the issue of lack of documentation to children born out of Zimbabwe Mrs Peters said that there is a Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa that registers those children who are born in South Africa.
“Instead of doing boarder jumping with little children, mothers can go to the South African Embassy and register birth certificates for their children, what is required there is the parent’s birth certificate and national identity card” said Peters.
"As a provincial registrar l don’t have examples of people who come to our office with their stories and evidence and go back without getting assistance, l am sure that if such individuals came forward we would have helped them somehow added" Mrs Peters.
12 Civil Society Organisations this year released a report which showed that an alrming number of children aged 18 and below remain without documentation including birth certificates and national IDs. This had deprived many of access to social amenities like education, humanitarian assistance, employment, political participation, and even exploring their talents in sporting activities for example.