Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
PUBLIC hearings on the national inquiry on access to national documentation in the country are set to commence today in Matabeleland North province.
In a statement, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) said the public hearings, held under the theme “My Identity, My Right”, will cover all national identity documents including citizenship.
“The ZHRC announced the commencement of the public hearings on the national inquiry of access to documentation in Matabeleland North province, which will run from 15 to 16 July 2019 at Lupane State University (LSU) and 18 to 19 July at the Hwange District Administrator’s office, starting at 9AM.
“The public hearings will cover birth certificates, identity cards, passports, death certificates and citizenship. The national inquiry on access to documentation in Zimbabwe is running under the theme “My Identity, My Right,”” read the statement.
The commission said the public hearing process will start with a media briefing to be held at LSU today at 8.30AM.
“All media organisations, development partners, Government Ministries, other organisations and individuals are welcome to the media briefing and to observe the public hearings,” read the statement.
ZHRC chairperson Dr Elasto Mugwadi said the commission was the national human rights institution for Zimbabwe responsible for protecting, promoting and enforcing human rights in the country.
“The commission is also the public protector in the country, with the mandate to promote administrative justice. It was set up through section 232 and 242 of the constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment number 20 of 2013.
“In pursuit of section243 (1) (j) of the constitution, which mandates the ZHRC to conduct research into issues relating to human rights and freedoms and social justice, the ZHRC embarked on a process of conducting a national inquiry on access to documentation in Zimbabwe,” said Dr Mugwadi.
He said the duties of the ZHRC include inquiring into the challenges of accessing identity documents such as birth certificates, national identity cards, passports, citizenship and death certificates and assessing the extent to which they affect people in the country.
“The commission is also tasked to determine the root cause and factors which prevent easy access to identity documents as well as assess the impact of lack of these documents by individuals and groups.
“We also review the effectiveness of existing laws, institutions, policies, procedures as well as report and recommend before following up on steps to be taken in addressing barriers identified in accessing critical documents,” said Dr Mugwadi.
He added that the ZHRC had completed the preparatory phase of the national inquiry which included internal training, national stakeholder consultations, commissioning of the inquiry and preparation of the background research paper.
He said the next phase would entail conducting public hearings in the country’s 10 provinces.—@pamelashumba1