Zimbabwe: MP Urges Urgent Release of Cyclone Victims' Death Certificates

Police sniffer dogs help look for those presumed dead (file photo).

An MP has called on government to put in place mechanisms that would allow relatives of death victims of Cyclone Idai and survivors of the natural disaster to access relevant identity documents in the form of deaths and birth certificates which were destroyed during the storm.

Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, Dangamvura-Chikanga legislator Prosper Mutseyami said most survivors of a disaster that killed nearly 400 and displaced more nolonger had the means to acquire identity documents.

The MDC lawmaker said the process of acquiring some documentation was strenuous, hence the need for authorities to grant special favours to the survivors.

"I am looking at the Missing Persons Act. Chapter 5 Section 3 requires that a formal application with the Clerk of Court and then advertising in the local newspaper and Government Gazette with regards to a person who has gone missing. It requires that an enquiry by the State be conducted in terms of Section 4.

"You would find out that the Act does not address situations of natural disasters such as the one which happened in Chimanimani," he said.

Mutseyami said government assistance in the process was key in that families can nolonger bear the costs of replacing the essential documents.

"It (Act) also does not address mass deaths. So the process, if we look at it, is not very convenient when we look at it with regards to Cyclone Idai.

"So, I humbly request to the minister to look at this thoroughly and come up with a solution urgently, specifically on the victims of the disaster so that their relatives or children will have access to whatever process that has to be followed including the death certificates because this process alone costs money bearing in mind the distance and how this process will be involved. It is very expensive.

"So it is my humble request for government to put a waiver and deal with this matter urgently so that these people will rest in peace and their families will have records of those people who passed on," said Mutseyami.

On his part, Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi promised to look into the matter.

"I acknowledge what Mutseyami has said and I will look into it with a view of ensuring that we deal with the situation," said Ziyambi.

Cyclone Idai ravaged Chimanimani and Chipinge, among other areas, causing massive damage to infrastructure with a lot of families seeing their home washed away.

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