Government starts issuing birth certificates for children born during lockdown People queue as they wait to be served at the Registrar General’s Office in Bulawayo

Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT has started issuing birth certificates to children who were born during the Covid-19-induced lockdown and had not been captured in the national registry following the suspension of the services.

Children who were born from March last year to date had not been captured in the national registry due to the lockdown.

The situation, brought about by the Covid-19-induced lockdown introduced last March, had put parents in a dilemma as they could not include the affected children in most schemes that require birth certificates such as medical aid, funeral policies and acquiring passports.

When the country introduced lockdown in March last year most social services were suspended for the greater part of the year.

Although the offices were later opened, few people were being served as officials sought to adhere to World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols in terms of crowd control.

In an interview, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Deputy Minister Ruth Maboyi said the Registrar-General (RG)’s Office is expediting the process to clear the backlog.

Deputy Minister Ruth Maboyi

“We have resumed issuing birth certificates to children who had not been captured in the national registry because of the lockdown. In Harare, the RG’s Office is doing about 80 and 90 birth certificates per day while in other major towns, we are issuing an average of 75 birth certificates,” she said.

“In smaller towns and growth points we are issuing at least 25 birth certificates per day.”

Acting Registrar General Mr Henry Machiri recently told our sister paper, Sunday News that although he did not have the numbers at hand, there was a huge backlog of people seeking to acquire birth certificates for their children.

He said while there were delays for the children to access birth certificates, the law in Zimbabwe allows children to acquire the document for free between zero and six years.

In Bulawayo, it could not be established how many babies are in need of birth certificates, but Mpilo Central Hospital said it delivers between 7 000 and 10 000 births annually.

There are other hospitals and council clinics that also have maternity wings in the city which would push the numbers of newborn babies higher.

In addition, the country’s 10 provinces each have a number of health facilities with maternity wings and some mothers in remote areas reportedly deliver from home.

Deputy Minister Maboyi said in terms of issuing polyethylene synthetic national identity cards (IDs), the RG’s Office is facing challenges due to a shortage of consumables that require foreign currency.

“When it comes to issuing national IDs, we have a serious challenge because we are running short of consumables that have to be imported. However, we have since approached Treasury to release funds so that we are able to procure those consumables,” she said.
Deputy Minister Maboyi said due to the shortage of polyethylene synthetic, the ministry has relied on issuing Green Copy Waiting Passes to citizens waiting for the plastic IDs.

Speaking in Parliament last week, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said Government is giving priority to high school pupils who need the IDs to sit for public examinations and people with selected emergencies while the rest of applicants are getting “green copy” waiting passes.

The move is set to ensure that the pupils can register for public examinations.

Minister Kazembe said the ministry was also planning to conduct a national mobile registration exercise once all the logistics are in place in order to curb long queues in the registry offices which are against Covid-19 regulations.

The minister also told Parliament that the ministry has implemented measures to cut the backlog on passports.

Currently, there is a backlog of 225 747 dating back to March 2019. The backlog is accumulating due to a shortage of consumables that require foreign currency.

The ministry has since implemented a double shift work programme that started on April 21 to deal with the backlog that passport offices have. — @mashnets

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