Debra Matabvu and Pretiosa Chimuti
The November 2021 Ordinary and Advanced Level candidates compulsory acquisition of National Identification cards(IDs) has been suspended following large numbers that converged at Registrar General’s offices countrywide.
The exercise was expected to continue today, but due to yesterday’s high turnout, authorities were concerned that the large numbers posed a risk, as the country is battling a surge in Covid-19 cases.
In a statement, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage said the exercise had been discontinued with immediate effect with all Registry offices closed today.
“Members of the public and all our valued clients are kindly being advised that the exercise which the Civil Registry Department had availed to allow GCE Ordinary and Advanced Level candidates for the November 2021 examinations to apply for IDs during the weekend of 26-27 June 2021 has been suspended forthwith, owing to the rising Covid-19 cases,” part of the statement reads.
“As such, all Civil Registry Offices countrywide will be closed tomorrow, 27 June 2021 (today).
“Fellow citizens, kindly be guided accordingly.
“Any inconvenience caused is sincerely regretted.”
Visits by this publication yesterday to civil registry office branches in Harare showed that by midday, most students were yet to be served resulting in chaos and disorder.
Police were called in to disperse and control crowds at the Market Square offices in the capital as well as Chitungwiza’s RG’s offices at Makoni shopping centre, where a precast wall was destroyed.
At the RG’s office at Makombe building in Harare, gates were temporarily closed to maintain order as hordes pushed and shoved in a bid to enter the premises.
Addressing journalists yesterday, Acting Registrar General, Mr Henry Machiri, said the call was mainly for external candidates.
“We are happy that people heeded the call that was made to O and A-Level candidates that need national identification for the purpose of registering for this year’s public examinations,” he said.
“However, it is not everyone that needs a national identification to register for the examinations hence the call was made largely for external students who will need to be positively identified for registration purposes and for them to write the examinations.
“External candidates normally comprise students who are supplementing, learning at colleges that are not registered as examination centres and would need to go to another centre to sit for an examination.
“As long as a student is at a registered and formal school, the teachers and headmasters have known the student, some students have been at the school for four or six years so you are allowed to register for the examination in November.
“Parents with children at formal schools do not need to panic as they are still able to register without national identification.
“For those that require the national identification documents, we have decentralised the areas in Harare, Bulawayo and other districts across the country.
“Covid-19 is still with us; people should observe the Covid-19 health protocols. So in some cases we have called in the police to maintain order.”
Some parents and students interviewed at Market Square said although they had slept in the queue, they had been turned away.
“I have two of my children that I have come with in order for them to get IDs after an announcement was made last night on TV. We slept here but we have been told that only those who have booked are to get IDs,” said Mrs Charity Shereni.