BULAWAYO-BASED political pressure group Habakkuk Trust has petitioned Parliament to force the Registrar-General’s (RG) Office to issue out birth certificates to survivors of the Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda told legislators on Thursday that he had received the petition from Habakkuk Trust.
“On November 6, Parliament received a petition from Habakkuk Trust of Zimbabwe petitioning Parliament to protect the entitlement of Zimbabwean nationals to birth certificates and oversee measures the Registrar-General’s Office has put in place to effect the right to obtain these documents,” Mudenda said.
“The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services to look into the issue.”
Section 35 (3) ( c ) of the Constitution stipulates that all Zimbabwean citizens were entitled to rights and benefits such as rights to birth certificates and other identity documents issued by the State.
The petition by Habakkuk Trust also came at a time when people from Matabeleland have claimed that children born of victims of Gukurahundi, which displaced families, still do not possess identity particulars such as birth certificates.
But, Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede recently came before the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Peace and Security where he told MPs that he had personally gone to Matabeleland to look for those people that were said not to have birth documents and no one came before him claiming that Gukurahundi had deprived them of birth certificates.
A report by Justice for Children Trust (2007) on birth registration of children in Zimbabwe said some of the major causes for non-registration were that the RG’s Office requirements were too strict and rigid and travelling long distances and queues.
“A major issue noted during the research related to the sponsorship of witnesses to the registration centres by way of paying for their bus fares, accommodation and food. The major socio-economic consideration and hindrance to birth registration of children was cited as the lack of finances to travel to registration centres,” Justice for Children Trust said.
Some women were said to be afraid to register children in their maiden names, which affected birth registration of children particularly in cases where there was remarriage or where a father denied paternity or responsibility for the child.