BY NOMPUMELELO DAMBA
Dozens of undocumented children in Bulawayo’s ward 17 are being deprived of their basic right to education, as they do not have birth certificates, Councillor Sikhululekile Moyo has said.
Cllr Moyo said that some of these children do not have birth certificates because their parents do not have identification documents themselves.
“After so many engagements with these people I have realised that this is a fourth-generation problem because some of these kids do not have documents because their parents did not have one,” said Cllr Moyo.
“If one does not have identity documents it means they can miss out on education, healthcare, jobs and social security.
“It is sad that these children are being punished for their parents’ misfortunes. They encounter problems when it is time for them to sit for grade 7 examinations or proceed to high school level.”
Cllr Moyo said some parents are not registering their children at birth because of the cost of registration.
“Also, some of these children were born in South Africa and their parents sent them back here to Zimbabwe without any documents which make it difficult to acquire birth certificates.”
She said that as a councillor she has engaged human rights lawyers to assist the children but more still needs to be done.
“I also took the matter to our Member of Parliament but the issue has never been discussed in parliament which is worrying.
“Birth registration is vital for every child and the house of assembly members are supposed to take the government to task to make sure that facilities are availed to the marginalised citizens.
“The government has the overall say in this matter and it is supposed to ensure that a child’s right to education is not collateral damage in the civil registration process.”
Cllr Moyo articulated that the government should change its policies to ensure that no child is deprived of the right to education because of a lack of proper identity documents.
“These limitations are unconstitutional and in violation of Zimbabwe’s international obligations,” lamented Moyo.
The right to education is a human right under section 75 of the constitution.
“A person has a right to establish and maintain independent educational institutions with reasonable standards that do not discriminate on any ground prohibited by the Constitution,” reads section 75 (2).
Zimbabwe is also bound by the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which indicates that all children within a state, including those with undocumented status, have a right to receive education and access to adequate food and affordable health care.