By Pamenus Tuso
The widely loathed registrar general’s (RG) department is probably the government’s unashamedly most incompetent agencies; it is run by a cling-on bureaucrat who has been in post since independence in 1980.
Tobaiwa Mudede remains in post despite complains that getting birth certificates, national identity cards or a passport is a nightmare characterised by long spells in queues and a customer service approach premised on deliberate menace by department officers.
Bereaved families trying get death certificate for their loved ones are not spared further grief either with many saying they travel back and forth to the department over days without getting any assistance.
NewZimbabwe.com last Thursday visited the infamous Room 6 at the local Registrar General offices and witnessed utter chaos, with scores of weary, desperate and confused service seekers cramped in the waiting hall with no apparent assistance from the disinterested officers.
“I have been waiting in the queue since 6 am and I have not been served,” said one Lameck Ndlovu.
“I want to apply for a death certificate for my deceased wife. All the people who want to apply for IDs, birth and deaths certificates like myself are standing in one barely moving queue and there is nobody directing clients where to seek relevant services and information.
“Yesterday, (last Wednesday) I spent the whole day here again waiting and nobody could not assist.”
Ndlovu said he urgently needed the death certificate to process the deceased’s estate.
Another Bulawayo resident, Morris Ncube (76), said he has been frequenting the Bulawayo RG offices for the three days but still failed to secure a death certificate for his son who died in South Africa last month.
“I am very old, and I cannot jostle for positions in queues with young people. Each time, I come here there is confusion,” he said.
“There are always long and unmoving queues at Room 6 where the death certificates are issued. It seems people there are enjoying the confusion because they do not tell you proper information.”
Ncube, who is a pensioner, said over the three days he had already spent $3 on transport travelling into town but with getting any assistance.
“I am even forking out more money coming here, yet I do not have any means to getting an income.
“I wish if President Emmerson Mnangagwa could come here and see whether this is what he was talking about when he said service delivery at government institutions would improve within 100 days.”
National ID cards and birth certificate seekers also complained about similar experiences.
New Zimbabwe.com’s news crew witnessed some people confidently skipping the queue and heading straight to the serving desk where they simply mentioned the name of a staffer who would have “sent” them.
From that point, the queue skippers are then referred to different staffers at other offices where they breeze through the entire process without any hustle.
Some bereaved families said they had to travel from areas such as Inyathi and Binga to Bulawayo just to get a death certificate because the services are not decentralised.
The requirements for the document are not easily available as the department meaning families must first travel to the offices to ask what is needed and then return another day with the documents.
Efforts to get a comment from the RG’s office had not been successful at the time of writing.
However, opposition political parties have long demanded Mudede’s removal from office, not least because he is over the retirement age of 65, and more importantly because they accuse him of helping perpetrate electoral fraud.
But the government refuse to budge, with labour minister Petronella Kagonye last December telling opposition MP Jessie Majome that asking for Mudede’s ouster amounted to age discrimination and a violation of the rights of the elderly to employment.