Locadia Mavhudzi, Midlands Correspondent
SOME people in the Midlands province face difficulties in accessing critical national documents due to cultural challenges as relatives refuse to accept out-of-the-wedlock children.
This was heard during a Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) workshop in Gweru last Friday.
Presenting findings at the validation workshop, the ZHRC national enquiry coordinator, Ms Goretti Mudzongo said data gathered in the province revealed that 52 percent of people interviewed had challenges in obtaining birth certificates while 31 percent faced challenges in getting national identity documents.
Ms Mudzongo said there are some hotspots in mining areas like Shurugwi and Mberengwa where several women revealed that they had challenges in accessing birth certificates for out-of-the-wedlock children.
“These women had children after they were impregnated in short lived relationships with miners who may have come from as far as Zambia and Malawi in search of minerals, while their own families refused to assist them acquire such due to cultural reasons,” she said.
“Peripheral districts like Gokwe and Mberengwa experienced the worst challenges which have often led to the expulsion of such people in critical development programming. Many could not proceed with education while others could not vote in previous elections. Interviewees professed that the distance travelled to the Government offices is too far as many poor families cannot afford to pay for the transport costs.”
Ms Mudzongo said the findings will be combined with what came out in other provinces before a report is presented in parliament by the end of the first quarter this year.
Speaking during the workshop, Chief Njelele of Gokwe said there is need for traditional leaders to be given powers to assist vulnerable members of their communities to obtain critical documents.
“We need to bridge the gap for the vulnerable in our communities. As traditional leaders it is high time we are given some power to recommend for the provision of birth certificates for those we find to be in complex situations in our communities,” he said.