Zvamaida Murwira and Columbus Mabika
Birth registration for children below six years will remain free of charge, as Government is committed to ensuring that all citizens across the country have access to identification documents, Registrar-General Clement Masango said yesterday.
He said those who apply for birth registration when they are above six years will have to pay a nominal fee of $2, but the Government will exercise due diligence before registering them due to security reasons.
In an interview yesterday, Mr Masango said they will continue to decentralise the services of the department to ensure that those in remote areas did not travel long distances.
There has been concerns that some people above six years with no surviving parents were failing to write public examinations or open bank accounts due to their failure to get registration documents.
In the rural areas, villagers recently told an inquiry on national documents being conducted by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission about the distance they had to travel to get to service centres.
“Even those that fail to register by age of six, registration is $2, so the cost is not prohibitive,” said Mr Masango.
“For security reasons and the need to account for everyone, especially those to be accorded citizenship, the office cannot just register anybody without meeting certain requirements, which guide us in the performance of our function.
“On that one, it has to be understood in its context, surely a Government official cannot be allowed to operate outside guidelines. I do not think we can say everybody can walk into the office and say give me a birth certificate, my parents are not there.
“They cannot just be registered based on their word, otherwise it ceases to be an office, but a dragnet.
“That does not happen anywhere else, there are always controls for accountability. This is an issue ultimately that would have a bearing on citizenship. It would be wrong for the department to accept inaccurate and unverified information.”
Mr Masango said the department had opened more than 200 sub-offices and was present in all the 62 administrative districts.