REGISTRAR-GENERAL Tobaiwa Mudede has thrown his weight behind the proposed committee of African registrar-generals and highlighted the need for regional governments to take ownership of national civil registration systems through domestic funding.
BY Nokuthaba Dlamini
Speaking at the African Registrar-Generals’ Taskforce meeting in Victoria Falls, Mudede said Africa should take full ownership of civil registration systems and devote more resources, as opposed to relying on donors whom he blamed for peddling lies.
Mudede hailed the formation of an African committee to coordinate civil registration of citizens across the continent to ensure they all had requisite civil documents.
“It will allow us to meet and discuss issues about Africans rather than for them to be channelled by outsiders. We solve our own problems. We have non-governmental organisations that have conducted surveys, writing documentaries showing that Africans are suffering,” he said.
“They make money by portraying to their donors that we are in deep poverty, but it affects us as registrars because we know the situation. Some write that people in Gokwe move undressed because of poverty and the committee will monitor such organisations.”
Mudede said the African governments had adequate resources to support the civil registration, but not enough funding was channelled towards that.
Victoria Falls mayor Sifiso Mpofu also urged registrar-generals to expedite the formation of the continental body, given the centrality of civil registration as a tool for development.
African Centre for Statistics and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) director, Oliver Chinyanga said the intergovernmental body for registration was long overdue.
“This is a very critical and long overdue forum. It will serve to follow up on recommendations that are made by the ministers as well as those that are made by Heads of States.
“We have several recommendations that have been passed, but almost zero has been implemented and yet we are now seven years down the line, for instance, we need to have everyone registered immediately after they are born, but that is a challenge in some countries,” Chinyanga said.
“We have people that come on earth and leave without being noticed nor known in the database that they ever existed. This is the case in many African countries that there are no records that they ever lived and this is very sad because they cannot be traced.”
Chinyanga said that census results would be easy to retrieve and the information will not be based on estimates, while also helping in development plans.
“If we have proper and robust civil registration, issues of census will not be necessary because we will register them when they come in, in between until death so it means that those people who come and exit, we will accurately capture them in the database,” Chinyanga said.
“Even for planning in terms of birth, it will help in terms of infrastructure like schools needed for them to cater for that number and in death, we can have an average of how many are we losing a year and it helps in planning of cemeteries space, life expectation because right now, we are relying on average estimate numbers that Africans live for 60 years but we have people who have surpassed 100 and we have no records of them and they don’t know when they were born.”