Govt to assist disenfranchised villagers acquire birth certificates

The newly appointed Registrar General Clemence Masango says government is willing to assist disenfranchised citizens without legal documents such as birth certificates and national identity documents.

According to a survey conducted by a consortium of civic society organisations, about 40 percent of children in Matabeleland region do not have birth certificates.

Most survivors of the 1980s Gukurahundi mass killings that left over 20 000 civilians dead do not have identity documents.

However, Masango says his office was willing to assist all those people that had problems or continue to have challenges regarding registration and added that social structures in place in the communities could also stand in for those who were disadvantaged.

Masango highlighted that registration of citizens, both birth and national registration processes, was a necessity to people and individuals were entitled to such.

“We are open to listen and do our best to see how we can assist them. We believe we can find a solution.  Societal setup is such that there is somebody who can speak for whatever child needs registration even if the child is orphaned surely there should be relatives, community leaders, there are school heads, political leadership or whatever that can vouch for such individuals,” he said.

Such interventions should enable them as authorities to help register those without particulars, the registrar general noted.

“We also have plans to do outreaches in the forms of mobile registration , of course that’s subject to availability of resources but  we will be able to do something and the good thing about mobile registration is we will go where people are.

“I know in most cases if we to get people to come to Bulawayo and there is no proof of birth in the form of a document then what is required is are witnesses so you can imagine cost of bringing witnesses to town but when we go to where people are then it would be easier to reach people to come,” he said.

Masango assured that in under the new dispensation, his office would not discriminate against those who needed attention or those that require registration services for whatever reason.

“I promise that my office is open those that have views or concerns that can help us be more relevant and more helpful to our people, I am available. Our offices will be open and flexible, let us close the past,” he said.

The registrar also touched on the issue of mothers seeking registration of their children on their own.

He said the law allows for registration of a child by even a single parent not just the mother.

“It’s not a requirement always that both parents must be there. We have birth certificates that have been issued where there is a blank and a line across, for especially for the potion of the father.

“So no one is turned away because they don’t know the father or because the father is not cooperative to come for registration. Why, because the most important person in the registration is the person who requires registration and in this instant is the child. The child must not be disadvantaged by the dispute between the parents or simply because either cannot find the other partner,” the registrar general

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