BY AMANDA NCUBE
After dropping out of school because of financial constraints, 20-year-old Cephas Dube from Tsukuru village in Bulilima district decided to seek employment in the informal sector.
Without money to board buses, he walked for more than 30 kilometres to reach Madlambuzi business centre in Bulilima. Dube moved from shop to shop without luck.
His hopes were raised when he found an opening at a grocery store where they were looking for a general hand.
Unfortunately, Dube did not have a national identity card and he failed to secure the job.
Dube stays in a remote area, about 120 kilometres from Plumtree town, where the registry department hardly conducts mobile outreach programmes.
He said he cannot afford to travel to Plumtree town to obtain the crucial document.
He has lost several job opportunities as a result.
“People don’t want to employ someone who doesn’t have documentation,” Dube said.
“It’s been a while since officers from the registry department came to our village.
“Sometimes we hear after they have gone that they were in neighbouring wards serving people.”
Dube wants to obtain an ID card so that he can get a decent-paying job, save money and go back to school.
He stays with his grandmother and two siblings whom he feeds through occasional piece jobs in his neighbourhood.
Scores of youths in rural Matabeleland South province especially those in remote parts of the province continue to miss out on development opportunities as they do not have IDs, while others do not have birth certificates.
The situation has worsened during the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic as the registry department has suspended some of its operations over a long period.
Sinokuthoba Moyo (19) from Sifanjani village in Gwanda said she had also missed out on job opportunities.
She dropped out of school when she was in Form 3 after her father passed on.
“I don’t have the money to travel to Gwanda town to apply for an ID,” Moyo said.
“Without an ID, it means that I will remain stuck at home and I won’t manage to develop myself.”
Headman Ndolwane, from Bulilima district, said many youngsters in rural areas do not have IDs and one of the reasons is the long distance being travelled to reach the offices and the cumbersome process involved when they do get the chance.
“There are some vulnerable people within our communities who can’t afford to travel to towns to obtain documentation,” Ndolwane said.
“The registry department has been conducting mobile outreaches, but they don’t cover all areas.
“Some villagers have to travel to reach the points for these mobile outreaches.
“Some children lost their parents and are being taken care of by their grandparents and their cases are complicated.
“Such cases should be considered. Some elderly people have given up on obtaining documents for their grandchildren after travelling several times to the registry office without luck.”
Chief Bango in Mangwe says obtaining a birth certificate and ID must be a process that is simple and easily accessible to all communities.
He said just as the national government is in a drive to ensure that communities can access clinics, they have to do the same with documentation.
The chief believes registry offices must be dotted all over, even temporarily.
Matabeleland South provincial deputy registrar Edward Dube said they have sub-offices in various districts in the province as well as mobile services in a bid to reach various wards; however, they are unable to cover all villages due to resource constraints. Dube said the target was to have mobile outreach teams visiting all schools in the province each month.
The Covid-19 pandemic has halted some of the mobile outreach programmes which are set to resume soon.
According to Dube, the government is set to launch a national mobile outreach programme that seeks to cover almost all remote parts of the country.
- This article was originally published by The Citizen Bulletin, a nonprofit news organisation that produces hard-hitting, hyperlocal reporting and analysis for the southwestern region of Matabeleland.