Regardless of the benefits and privileges associated with proper identification, it is the right of every Zimbabwean to have identity documents. This also invariably applies to women and children. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCR), of which Zimbabwe is a signatory, every child has the right to a name and a nationality. Under the birth and death Registration Act [5:02] of Zimbabwe it is mandatory to register the birth of a child within six weeks of their birth.
As part of advocacy work, Heal Zimbabwe partner, Family Visions Child Trust noted that in Makoni Ward 13, there were several women and children who did not have identification documents needed for them to be considered for social services such as food for the vulnerable and agricultural inputs schemes. The failure to acquire identification documents on the part of mothers has also cascaded down to their children whom they cannot also acquire the identification documents for. This has worsened the plight of both the women and their children as they have been unable to benefit from community social services available to others.
The organisation then engaged the office of the Registrar in the district. As part of conversations around the issue, the organisation took the Registrar’s office to task on whether a single mother can access a birth certificate without difficulties. In its response, the Registrar’s office outlined the requirements among them being the birth notification, name of the child, witnesses in the case of single parents. A similar question was also asked but now with regards to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC). This was on how the registrar office was dealing with issues of social inclusion particularly on PWDs and OVC.The Registrar’s office highlighted it was imperative for every citizen to have identity documents but regardless of one’s social standing, there is still need to follow the laid down procedure of bringing witnesses and there is no special facility for PWDs and OVC.This is however against a background that these groups face a plethora of challenges such as transportation and accessibility of the Registrar’s office. These challenges have been exacerbated by the fact that citizens do not have the knowledge of the requirements needed for one to get identity documents .
However from the discussion, the Registrar admitted that it has been facing some operational challenges and has been turning people away after failure to produce the requirements. As part of solutions to the above challenges around access to documentation, Family Visions Trust partnered the Registrar’s office and conducted field visits into the communities to sensitize the community on the importance of Access to Documentation (ATD).Communities welcomed the initiative as they were afforded an opportunity to ask pertinent questions to the Registrar’s office. The knowledge that they obtained is very essential and will help them in the acquiring of documents. Family Visions Child Trust intends to organise and conduct more community visits with the Registrar’s office to help communities to access documentation. The initiative by Family Visions Child Trust is one among many initiatives by Heal Zimbabwe Trust to strengthen capacity of citizens to uphold participation, inclusion, transparency, accountability and responsiveness principles and mechanisms.
Source: Heal Zimbabwe Trust