Birth certificate saga exposes rot at Lupane registry

A man acquired a birth certificate at the Lupane registry using a fake letter purportedly penned by a local village head in yet another example of corrupt activities at the key government office in Matabeleland North.

Investigations by CITE revealed that one *Mondli Mpunzi’s corrupt acquisition of the birth certificate using falsified information could be a tip of the iceberg as employees at the registry claimed that corruption had become institutionalised.

They blamed former provincial registrar Willard Sayenda for the chaos, claiming that he allowed corruption to fester during his tenure amid allegations that he benefited personally from the underhand dealings at the office.

In Mpunzi’s case, the village head who purportedly signed the letter confirming that he was born under his jurisdiction says he does not know the applicant.

“The village head is not the one who wrote the confirmation letter but was written by an official working under Sayenda,” reads a report by the Lupane registry into the saga, which was obtained by CITE.

“A headmaster at Elihlo Primary School is said to be the one who wrote the school letter for Mpunzi (to obtain the birth certificate) yet he never attended school at that same institution that is 70 km away from Makhovula area where these people reside.

Mpunzi’s birth certificate was acquired at the provincial office instead of the district office as per government regulations.

This was despite the fact that in Lupane, the provincial and district registry offices are housed in the same building.

Lupane registry officials told investigators the provincial office failed to direct the applicant to the district office to cover up a corrupt deal.

“The name on Mpunzi’s health card was tampered with and it is clear that a certain name was erased to insert the applicant’s name,” added the report in CITE’s possession.

“The sex of the applicant on the health card was also altered including the date of birth, the mother’s name on the health card was erased and substituted with the name of the applicant’s mother.

“The handwriting that completed the birth registration forms is the same that endorsed the physical address in the health card.

“The analysis further shows the health card was initially issued in 2017, even the vaccination dates show 2007 and 2008 whilst the applicant’s birth year is listed as 2011.”

Further analysis of Mpunzi’s health card revealed that the applicant’s mother was single, but the registration forms say the applicant’s parents were customarily married.

“The declarant did not declare this registration since the ID number used does not belong to her and it was registered in 1982 when the declarant was only 12 years old and not due for ID registration,” the report added.

“Therefore, there was no witness for this registration. The official could have just used the ID number and used a false name as the declarant and unfortunately, Sayenda did not bother to request for the copy of the declarant’s ID and the declarant herself as required by the Births and Deaths Registration Act.”

Those familiar with the case told CITE that Mpunzi’s birth certificate must be cancelled because it was fake.
Mpunzi’s case is one of many alleged corrupt deals by Sayenda and other senior registry officials in Lupane that are now being exposed following the top’s officials’ departure.

Sayenda was reportedly moved to head the Umguza district registry under a cloud.

Some of the whistleblowers claim that they were victims of the former provincial registrar’s bullying.

They said they were allegedly transferred to other stations without due processes after they questioned alleged corruption in the issuance of passports and IDs.

“Lupane province was allocated 90 emergency passports per day but workers were only allowed to book 70 people and the other 20 were allegedly Sayenda’s friends who would not join the queue like other citizens,” claimed one of the employees.

“When we queried the system, Sayenda transferred us yet he had no power to do that.”

Sayenda refused to comment on the allegations, which he said were not true.

“That is not correct, I cannot comment,” he said.

Timothy Mumba, Human Resources Director at the Registrar General’s office in Harare, also refused to comment.

“Sorry I cannot respond to any of these issues,” Mumba said.

“They need clearance from the head of ministry, who happens to be the disciplinary authority. No matter what evidence is available, our spokesperson is the head of ministry.”

The HR director was accused of protecting Sayenda by the disgruntled workers.

“Sayenda tendered his resignation in January 2021, but he withdrew it in April,” one of the workers alleged.

“He was then transferred from Lupane to head a district office in Umguza registry allegedly at the behest of Mumba

“He is sitting comfortably, enjoying a company car and other benefits. Mumba is aware of this because workers wrote affidavits and sent them to him in September 2020, but he is protecting Sayenda,” workers claimed.

Tawanda Mazango, Lupane Youth Development Trust Programmes Director, said locals were concerned about the alleged corrupt activities at the local registry office.

“We did our investigation and we discovered corrupt activities as locals were not benefiting from these passports, failing to access them yet applicants would come from far places to collect passports,” Mazango said.

Zimbabwe has a huge backlog of passport applications, which has been attributed to lack of foreign currency to buy consumables to produce the travel document.

Observers say the shortage of passports is fuelling corruption as registry officials solicit for kick-backs from desperate citizens seeking to jump the queue to get the document.

Zimbabweans also struggle to acquire birth certificates and IDs due to bottlenecks at the Registrar General’s office and they end up paying bribes to get a service.

*Not his real name

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