Leonard Ncube in Lupane
PEOPLE from Matabeleland North have implored the Government to help facilitate the issuance of national documents to victims of Gukurahundi saying a majority of them remain undocumented.
Those who spoke at a public hearing on the national inquiry on access to national documentation by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) at Lupane State University on Monday said many people were failing to acquire national documents mainly because their parents do not have birth certificates or national identity cards.
They said the situation is compounded by the fact that many left for the diaspora especially South Africa leaving their children undocumented.
As a result, scores of children were dropping out of school or failing to access benefits due to them because they have no registration documents.
Those who were lucky to get birth certificates only have abridged (smaller) ones that are not acceptable when applying for passports or accessing some of the official services.
Speakers at the hearing, being conducted nationwide, were selected from different communities in the respective districts of Matabeleland North.
Matabeleland North sessions were held on Monday and yesterday at the LSU main campus in Lupane. Tomorrow and Friday, the sessions will be in Hwange.
Chief Mabhikwa of Lupane said most of his subjects without documents are victims of Gukurahundi. “Most of the challenges in Matabeleland North are common as most parts of the province were affected by Gukurahundi. We have situations where both parents are late or those surviving have no documents themselves,” said the youthful chief.
He commended Government for initiating the public hearings saying this will facilitate peace and reconciliation.
“We appreciate that the current administration is now talking about Gukurahundi unlike in the previous one and it’s now up to us to help victims of the 1983-1986 period to get documents because this challenge can persist over generations. People are still afraid to talk about Gukurahundi and we are grateful that the President has opened dialogue,” said Chief Mabhikwa.
He said he knew several cases of children who had failed to sit school examinations because they have no birth certificates.
Chief Mabhikwa and several others were selected to speak in front of ZHRC Commissioners about challenges around documents.
Mrs Elna Ndlovu from Dlawa in Nkayi said she had failed over the years to get birth certificates for her grandchildren whose parents are based in South Africa. She said her eldest granddaughter had failed to sit Ordinary Level examinations as a result.
The ZHRC delegation comprising Commissioners Dr Elasto Mugwadi, who is the chairperson, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, Pertunia Chiriseri and Sethulo Ncube, is conducting the public hearings under the theme “My Identity, My Right”, covering all national identity documents including citizenship. Dr Mugwadi said the commission would make recommendations to the Government.
“We are aware of the Gukurahundi issue and Government is aware of it too. Once we get the extent of the problem we will make our recommendations. We are confident that the position taken by Government is going to take into account all issues that divide people because we are first and foremost Zimbabweans,” he said.
Dr Mugwadi said the Commission will submit its report in November once all investigations are completed.
The first hearing was held in Masvingo last week. —@ncubeleon