Mkhululi Ncube, Chronicle Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has said there is need for the Registrar General`s office to expedite the issuance of registration documents to Gukurahundi victims as part of measures of bringing closure to the emotive issue.
ZHRC conducted a national inquiry in all the country`s ten provinces between May 2019 and April this year with the aim of getting an understanding as to why a large number of citizens do not have critical identity documents like birth certificates, death certificates, identity Documents, passports and citizenship status.
During the hearings conducted in Matebeleland Provinces, Gukurahundi was one of the top reasons which resulted in people failing to get access to identity documentation.
ZHRC Chairperson Dr Elasto Mugwadi told stakeholders attending an engagement workshop which comes after the launch of human rights commission report on the national inquiry on access to documentation in Zimbabwe in a local hotel in the city yesterday that people who do not have documents were facing serious challenges which affect their enjoyments of their rights.
“The decision to conduct the national inquiry on access to documentation in the country was informed by empirical evidence obtained from the commission`s programming work in which it was established that lack of documentation had serious negative impacts which impeded the full enjoyment of human rights on the part of a significant of citizenry of this country,” said Dr Mugwadi.
Dr Mugwadi said it was a hard experience for the commission staff as they heard harrowing and heart-rending testimonies from people who do not have critical documentation as to why they do not have these documents.
“Most affected witnesses who given testimonies during the national inquiry made it clear that they do not feel that they belonged to the country as it was difficulty for them to access rights which was supposed to be enjoyed by all citizens such as rights to health care, housing, social benefits, education and other civil and political rights,” he said.
Dr Mugwadi said urgent responses are needed to address the identified challenges so that the plight of people failing to enjoy human rights to the fullest extent due to lack of documentation can be resolved.
He said special attention must be given to vulnerable groups who include Gukurahundi victims.
“Such groups include women, children, person with disabilities, widows and orphans, older persons, Gukurahundi affected communities, San and Tonga people, mixed race and intersex communities among others. It is high time no one is left behind including and in particular, the Gukurahundi affected communities,” said Dr Mugwadi.
He said the Rights watch dog was keen to see a closure to Gukurahundi.
“This is why we are celebrating the directive by his excellence the President, Emmerson Mnangagwa to have the usual and the normal RG`s office requirements waved in the issuance of birth certificate and IDs to victims and survivors of Gukurahundi. If the Registrar General `s office is not aware of this directive am just reminding them,” he said.
Dr Mugwadi said there are various other reasons which have resulted in people failing to have documents.
“Some of the root causes and factors which hinder documentation include, generation non documentation, poverty, negative cultural practices and beliefs ,migration and unknown whereabouts of parents ,procrastination, negligence and lack of awareness by parents and guardians on the need and significance of national documents, home births not accompanied by birth records, resources constraints and poor working conditions at the registrar’s offices and lack of human rights approach to service delivery to mention but a few,” he said.
In July this years, Home affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister, Cde Kazembe Kazembe said the government was drafting a policy to facilitate Gukurahundi exhumations and has also relaxed registration requirements to acquire identity cards, birth and death certificates for affected families.
He said the policy was being crafted in consultation with traditional leaders and other relevant key stakeholders..