Zimbabwe Scores a First in Human Rights Recognition Through Every Citizen’s Access to Documentation

By Nevison Mpofu

ZHRC Chairperson Hiilarious Mugwadi
ZHRC Chairperson Hiilarious Mugwadi

National Human Rights Institution and Public Protector the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission [ZHRC] launched a Report called National Inquiry on access to Documentation in Zimbabwe on 30 September in Harare. The Nation-Wide inquiry was conducted from May 29 to April 2020 according to ZHRC Chairperson Hiilarious Mugwadi. The vision at national level is citizenship full recognition through national documentation despite race , tribe or creed ..

The aim was to get a deep understanding of the under-lying reasons why a significant proportion of citizens were facing challenges in accessing identity documents. Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission further pointed out that the main objective was to find durable solutions to the problems that were identified in accessing documents related to identity cards especially birth-certificates and ID Cards.

” Today we Launch a Report which is a product of a long-term year nation-wide inquiry conducted by the Commission from May 19 to April 2020.

”The aim was to get deep into an understanding of the reasons why a significant proportion of citizens were facing challenges in accessing national identity documents.

”The main objective was to find durable solutions to the identified problems. People had a lot of problems accessing identity documents of which is not partaken by the constitution.

”The National Inquiry focused on five National Documents, namely, birth certificates, identity cards, pass-ports, death certificates and citizenship.

A National Inquiry was carried out as a research into issues and problems in general which affected and hinder development of the community and nation at large. The commission invited the public and stakeholders to give evidence.

Section 243 [1] [j] of the Constitution of Zimbabwe mandates the Commission to conduct research into issues relating to fundamental human rights, freedom and social justice.

”The Commission is empowered to conduct national inquiries by section 243 [1] [j] of the constitution of Zimbabwe. We invited the general public and stakeholders to give evidence ”

” This is a concern at heart with us if people have challenges in accessing identity cards yet they are citizens by birth. This is against human rights. People end up violated their rights where-ever they are” , he said .

Lack of documentation has serious negative impacts which derail and impedes full enjoyment of human rights on residents of any country. The Universal Declaration for Human Rights fosters an open environment in which every citizen has identity cards.

Zimbabwe has gone through consultations and out-reaches in all districts. They gathered people for public hearings regarding documentation. All this was done in the 10 provinces of the country from June to November 2019 . A total of 741 stakeholders and 20,964 persons were engaged in the national inquiry process.

There were 7544 written submission forms from individuals received. 191 forms were received from Stakeholders. In this work, the Human Rights Commission engaged Register General’s office and the department of Social Welfare, Register General’s Department, Zimbabwe Republic Police is in line with the constitution and laws of the country. The Constitution of Zimbabwe section 35 [3] states that every human being must be entitled to documentation of all variety without any challenges.

 Section 43 of the constitution on continuation and restoration of previous citizenship guarantees the so-called aliens from SADC Citizenship by birth yet many of them remain here as Aliens. Acquisition of a pass-port in Zimbabwe remains a tall order when section 66 of the constitution on freedom of movement guarantees the right to a pass-port or other documents as inalienable rights.

The yearning among citizens for enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedom has never been greater and should be met by adopting lasting solutions proposed in the report. One good example is special attention should be placed on vulnerable groups of people who face multiple challenges in accessing documents. Secondly, there is need to decentralize registration centers in the country. The fact that there are 2 to 3 million children in need of registration ZHRC has come up with a plan to engage chiefs so that they can identify these vulnerable un-registered and un-documented children

Such groups it is noted include women and children, orphans especially, disabled, older persons minority groups like the Doma Tonga close to the Zambian boarder and along the Zambezi River, Tongogara Camp refugees in Mozambique and Gukurahundi affected communities. The last mention is on those who face vulnerability through disasters. One good example is of the Chimanimani affected communities during cyclone Idai .

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