Zimbabwe: Countrywide Mobile Registration Blitz Begins

14 September 2021

A countrywide mobile registration started yesterday as part of Government efforts to ensure all citizens have access to primary documents and to address documentation challenges particularly in Matabeleland as a result of the Gukurahundi episode.

The exercise is in line with the dictates of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) and has also been planned to coincide with the forthcoming national census.

The move will clear the backlog in document issues that have been accumulating during the Covid-19 lockdowns, when the Civil Registry was only processing burial orders.

A meeting held by chiefs from Matabeleland in Bulawayo early this month revealed that the challenge of lack of access to primary documents is pronounced in Binga District, where poor infrastructure made it difficult to get to the right centres.

A mobile registration exercise has been planned to target some areas in that district. Mobile registration is also currently in progress in Bikita District in collaboration with UNICEF.

Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services chaired by Umzingwane legislator Levi Mayihlome (Zanu PF) yesterday to give oral evidence on measures being implemented to ensure access to primary documents, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Permanent Secretary Mr Aaron Nhepera said access to documents is a constitutional right that Government was taking seriously.

The movement into communities of mobile registration teams was triggered by the Cabinet decision to address document challenges by the San Community in Matabeleland.

"Today, the acting Registrar General and his team are in the Tsholotsho District of Matabeleland North, issuing primary documents to citizens in that district.

"This is an exercise that was triggered by a Cabinet decision to that effect in order to address the documentation challenges faced by the San community. The exercise, which will be extended to all citizens in the district, will also cover parts of Bulilima District."

For those affected by the Gukurahundi episode, he said the Civil Registry department will work under the guidance of traditional leaders to ensure that they are documented.

"The department is ready to commence mobile registration aimed at addressing documentation challenges aligned to the Gukurahundi episode.

"The exercise will be area specific and will be guided by the respective local chiefs," he said.

"A meeting held by chiefs from Matabeleland in Bulawayo early this month revealed that the challenge of lack of access to primary documents is equally pronounced in Binga District.

"A mobile registration exercise has been planned to target some areas in that district. Mobile Registration is also currently in progress in Bikita District in collaboration with UNICEF."

In an effort to eliminate corruption, foster efficiency, effectiveness and to enhance revenue collection in the Civil Registry, Government has adopted a five-year strategy that seeks to automate and modernise work processes in the relevant departments.

This will see continued decentralisation of offices to complement existing ones.

"The Civil Registry Department for instance, currently has 10 provincial registries, 62 district offices and 207 sub-offices throughout the country

"The strategy is to continue establishing more sub-offices in order to reduce the distance people travel to access primary documents," he said.

As way to move in line with technology, he said the Civil Registry Department is working on an online passport application system that will enable people to apply for and, where charged, pay for primary documents online.

Mr Nhepera said unavailability of consumables was a major challenge leading to back logs.

So Government has engaged a partner in a Build Own Operate and Transfer deal that is set to see the production of passports and identification cards in large numbers starting in December.

On manpower shortages, he said the department has also not been spared by the freezing of posts by Government with an additional 114 Processing Officers required.

He said the ministry was engaging Treasury in this regard, more so against the background of the planned geographical spread.

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