The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has said he is going to expedite the availing of national identity documents to communities affected by post-Independence disturbances commonly known as Gukurahundi, saying the Government’s incapacity to do so in the past amounted to healing delayed.
Writing in his weekly column in this paper, the President said those affected were right in feeling that they were living on the margins of citizenship as failure to acquire the documents was a painful reminder of the trauma they endured.
“In my interaction with many rural communities, especially in those areas affected by disturbances which visited us in the early years of our Independence, it became very clear to me that many of our citizens did not have birth certificates, identity cards, let alone passports.
Those affected felt they lived on the margins of citizenship, and rightly so.
For families in communities affected by the early disturbances, this amounted to healing delay, indeed a painful reminder of the trauma they had endured and lived through, a pain which continued to manifest through their failure to access these key national documents,” he said.
The affected rural communities, and many others, faced a myriad of challenges to access national documents, he said.
“Investigations revealed that this unhappy state of affairs owed to many factors, among them the onerous and rigid registration requirements the authorities demanded for issuance of these vital documents by which citizenship is either validated or rendered nominal or even denied, depending on access.
The other reasons related to costs which both a centralised and city-centred service imposed on those who needed the service the most, yet afforded the costs of getting it the least,” he lamented.
However, in a bid to ensure access and accessibility, President Mnangagwa said he has moved in to ensure that there is delivery of the vital documents.
“We resolved the matter through a series of decisions which, among other measures, simplified requirements for issuance of documents; measures which brought the service closer to communities through mobile registration and issuance units, and through decentralisation and making the registration process free.
I am now happy that access to birth certificates and national identity cards has vastly improved, with many who had lived in the twilight zone of citizenship feeling they now belong and are empowered,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said his administration was going to facilitate the provision of travel and identity documents to locals and those in the diaspora as enshrined in the Constitution.
“Our eyes are now trained on the availability of passports and other travel documents, both to citizens here at home and to those living in the diaspora.
Through an inventive panoply of measures, we have now taken, I am confident all the rights and benefits related to citizen documentation as promised by Chapter 3 of our Constitution will be efficiently met and delivered to our citizens,” he added.
Furthermore, these services have been extended to areas outside the metropolitan areas.
“Measures we have taken include decentralising the service to all district centres in the country, a process which I launched.
As I write, seven other centres which include Beitbridge, Hwange, Bulawayo, Lupane, Gweru among others, are already issuing e-Passports.
By the end of September this year, we expect the number of such service centres to rise to 14, with the momentum being maintained until all the districts are covered,” he said.