What began as a single step about a year ago has turned out to be a milestone achievement as Habakkuk Trust takes civil documentation lobbying to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary affairs, urging the government to put in place a special instrument to enable descendants of the victims of Gukurahundi to acquire identity documents.
This follows a petition made to the Parliament of Zimbabwe after Habakkuk Trust noted the alarming number of people without birth certificates in some parts of the Matabeleland provinces. These statistics are largely attributed to the 1983- 1987 Gukurahundi period where some victims were killed, assumed killed and missing and were not formally registered as dead or missing resulting in their descendants failing to meet the registration requirements.
In a presentation made by Habakkuk Trust Chief Executive Officer Mr. Dumisani Nkomo, the organisation explained that a sample survey was done in Matobo, Gwanda and Nkayi Districts with emphasis on access to birth certificates and national identity cards. The survey indicated that in Nkayi District, there were 23,054 children of school going age without birth certificates while Gwanda Ward 13 recorded a total of 1,350 without identity documents, most of them being children. A snap survey of 14 primary schools in Matobo District recorded a total 2,499 children are without birth certificates.
“The organisation is thus convinced that this unfortunate situation is rampant in most parts of the country,” he said. “The petitioners are cognizant of the fact that the Registrar’s office conducted a mobile registration exercise but the exercise did not address the reasons why most people do not have identity documents as the registration requirements remained unchanged.”
Other recommendations included enforcing security at the country’s borders to reduce child trafficking cases and raising awareness on the services offered by International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to enable people outside the country to acquire identity documents.
Upon hearing the compelling evidence from Habakkuk Trust, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Chairperson Honorable Fortune Chasi without disputing, acknowledged that the issue of access to civil documents is an endemic problem throughout the country and advised that the committee will further deliberate on it and produce a report to be presented in Parliament.