Habakkuk Trust has held advocacy workshops to educate communities in Matopo district on how they can get identity particulars.
BY SHARON SIBINDI
Dumisani Nkomo, founder of the Trust, said they decided to roll out the programme because they had realised the need for people to have identity documents ahead of next year’s elections.
Most people in the Matabeleland regions do not have identity documents after their parents died during the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s.
“As Habakkuk Trust, we conducted two advocacy training workshops in Mabonyane and Zamanyoni. Access to birth certificates became one of the issues that the community wanted addressed in their wards,” Nkomo said.
“We explained that there is quite a huge number of people without identity documents and this has contributed to the high number of children dropping out of school, child marriages and illegal migration.”
Nkomo said in support of that, the Trust teams in Matobo attended a public hearing on ending child marriage in Zimbabwe and submitted a written document requesting issuance of birth certificates to be tackled first as it was one of the lead causes of child marriages in their areas.
“The action teams from Matobo wards 1, 5, 7 and 14 said lack of access to birth certificates had resulted in most children dropping out of school before attaining secondary education and resorting to early marriages.
“The children become prey to older men once they stop going to school. There should be laws that will force parents to acquire birth certificates for their children and encourage them to value the right to education so that child marriage can be minimised,” Nkomo said.
He said reasons were varied from having parents who were outside the country, while others were orphans or their parents do not have identity documents themselves.
“Ignorance about children’s rights is another reason why children do not have birth certificates in the district. There are now six Habakkuk Trust community advocacy action teams which are advocating on access to birth certificates in Matobo district. These are Matobo wards 1, 5, 7, 10, 14 and 19,” Nkomo said.
“The issue of civil documentation also came out in Sontala, Dewe, Sigangatsha and Silozwi during human rights awareness public meetings Habakkuk Trust held in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission last year.”
Meanwhile, the Trust joined opposition MDC Bulawayo legislator Jasmine Toffa, who recently launched a similar programme to assist residents, particularly underprivileged children and women, obtain identification documents.
The Proportional Representation MP said the programme was born out of the realisation that several children in Mahatshula South suburb were failing to enrol for school as they had no birth certificates.