Registrar General, Tobaiwa Mudede endured a hard time as legislators from the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Home Affairs today quizzed him over the difficulties faced by citizens to access identity documents- a problem likely to disenfranchise a lot of eligible citizens from voting in the forthcoming harmonized elections.
Mudede who has presided over the registration of birth and deaths since independence and is one of the longest serving civil servants in the country told the committee that many people living in Zimbabwe are not citizens who cannot just obtain identity documents.
“Many people in this country are not Zimbabweans especially in Mashonaland, we cannot just give out birth certificates,” said Mudede.
He added that, “A woman cannot just come and register a child in a man’s name without the man consenting, we amended the law after a lot of men complained of paying maintenance for children who are not theirs, women are also allowed to register children in their own names.”
However legislators were unimpressed with his submissions as they highlighted that their constituencies have a lot of people without registration documents due to the stringent conditions Mudede’s office demand.
Musikavanhu legislator, Prosper Mutseyami accused Mudede of failing the people of Chipinge who continue to be sidelined in national processes as they do not have identity documents.
“I have been in this committee since 2013, in Chipinge people have no documents and Mudede keeps saying we will come with a solution, can he please resign and pave way for young people,” said Mutseyami.
“My concern is on age, if one is old and being in office might slow things, people are graduating every year, i think it is better to have young generation than old people,” added Mutseyami.
Southerton Member of Parliament, Gift Chimanikire also queried why the Registrar’s Office is failing to offer documents to citizens giving example of people who have lost relatives during the Gukurahundi massacres.
“People in my constituency have no identification documents, and if they want to apply, the process is long for them and too expensive.
“The other issue is of people who do not have relatives and lost documents during the Gukurahundi, they do not have documents, if A child was born in Chipinge but the family is living in Harare, they will not have money to travel back to Chipinge .
“Your offices are denying people to have IDs and some are being delayed, Why?” queried Chimanikire also blaming registrar’s office of being reluctant.
Parliamentarians also demanded answers from Mudede on the situation with regards to children born abroad who are failing to have birth certificates.
They also questioned him on the issue of orphans who do not have documents because of requirements needed when they want to apply for one, asking that the Registrar General’s office relax.
Mudede was however adamant that the process to acquire identity documents cannot be relaxed as that will lead to many undeserving and foreigners benefiting from loopholes when they should not.
“During the just ended registration we encountered people who had fled from Tongogara refugee camp saying they want documents, if we issue documents to everyone refugees will end up becoming Zimbabweans and end up standing for Presidency
“Anyone born outside the country will not be given a birth certificate , those people out there who give birth will be given assistance to ensure we register citizens only,” said Mudede.