Gaha community members at a ZimRights meeting
Mutare – HUNDREDS HUNDREDS of people in Manicaland province without identity documents have approached the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) asking for its assistance. Over 300 people in the Gaha community in Mutare North, aged between 16 – 35 years, who do not have national identity cards could get registered after ZimRights approached the government’s registry office on their behalf.
The office in Mutare said it might consider conducting a mobile registration process for the community after consultations. More than half of the 638 pupils at Mukuni North Primary school do not have birth certificates, school head Lovemore Mundembe told ZimRights in January 2017.
In Zimbabwe, it is an offence punishable with imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or a fine, or both in terms of the National Registration Act (Chapter 10:17), if one fails to produce an identity document when required to do so by an authorised person, especially for the purposes of investigating a crime.
But there are several obstacles that stand in the way of many people to getting documented.
Most of the undocumented people are from Ward 2 of Mutare North, which is a remote area, without basic amenities. The area is mostly made up of former farm workers, who were infamously ejected from their workplaces, during the fast track land reform program.
The people came from redistributed farms that include Kondozi, Chikunda, Betty, Dieguns and Katsuro. Information gathered by ZimRights’ Inside Communities is that it was common in the farm settings for one to age without identity documents. As a result, most of the parents in Gaha – a community which developed as a transit camp of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) – are passing on their undocumented status to their children.
With these people now internally displaced, there are further complications to their lack of documentation due to abrupt movements which affected the flow of their lives. The nearest clinic where the people of Gaha get medical attention is Mt. Zuma which is about 13 km away. As a result of the long distances usually travelled by foot, home deliveries without birth confirmation records are common.
However, those mothers who give birth at Mt. Zuma and get birth confirmation records will reportedly have to obtain birth certificates at Marange sub office about 15 km from Gaha.
But this could be a thing of the past, as the efforts to get the undocumented people of the Gaha communal area in the eastern part of Zimbabwe documented gather momentum.
Gaha community members read ZimRights pamphlets
ZimRights has now set its sights on assisting the people of the area to get their identity cards in time for the 2018 elections so that they can also, like all other Zimbabweans, exercise their right to vote.
The new people-driven Constitution of Zimbabwe makes it clear in Sections 35 – 40 that people should enjoy rights to identity and citizenship.
According to the United Nation (UN)’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948: “Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.”
The efforts by ZimRights’ Manicaland office to facilitate the acquisition of identity documents come at the back drop of widespread hunger, and rolling out food aid programs.
Having identity cards and registration numbers is crucial to gaining access to government services and aid such as food supplements.