By Anna Chibamu
HOME Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe was Tuesday harshly criticised by outspoken Zanu PF Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba as questioned why citizens were failing to access critical documents like birth certificates, national identity cards and passports from the Registrar-General’s (RG) Office.
The government department falls under the Home Affairs Ministry.
Hundreds of people seeking identity documents are forced to sleep in the open at night waiting to access the papers the next morning, only to be turned away by the RG Office employees who cite various reasons.
The nightmare citizens are going through to acquire these documents forced Chinotimba to question whether Zimbabwe still has a Home Affairs Minister in charge.
“Do we have a Home Affairs Minister in this country?” Chinotimba questioned Home Affairs secretary Aaron Nhepera Tuesday.
Nhepera was giving oral evidence before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Defence, Home Affairs, and Security Services on measures his ministry was implementing to ensure all eligible citizens had access to IDs ahead of the 2023 elections.
“Are we still a primitive society? Ko zvinombofamba sei? Why do we fail as government to prioritise our needs as a nation?” Chinotimba asked.
“What is it that is in the pipeline? Are you afraid of approaching President Emmerson Mnangagwa or the Finance Minister (Mthuli Ncube) to report your issues?”
Chinotimba also queried why the RG’s office had no computers and other necessary equipment to process IDs, birth certificates, and passports for the citizens.
“The Birchneough registry office serves Chipinge North and Buhera South. These districts are still primitive. Since the Rhodesian era till the new Zimbabwe in 1980, and now we are in a new dispensation since 2018, but there is not even one computer in this office,” Chinotimba said.
“It pains me because, at the Birchneough registry office, one of the employees is disabled with only two fingers and is ever struggling to write, yet you are telling us that everything is still in the pipeline.
“Even if we deny it, it is happening in most sub-offices where there are no computers and electricity.”
In response, Nhepera admitted the government was facing challenges in processing citizens’ identity documents due to the lack of consumables and the global Covid-19 pandemic.
However, he told the committee the RG’s Office had engaged a Lithuania-based company – GarsuPasaulis – to assist in the production of IDs and birth certificates.
“Since March 2020 we have not been able to meet our demand due to Covid-19. We have only been issuing burial orders as a result of limited consumables,” Nhepera said.
He said most RG’s offices were not operating except in Harare and Mashonaland Central provinces while in Bulawayo, only the Mpilo office, was open.
“As of November 22, 2021, the passport backlog was 184 148 backdating to July 2019. As of January 4, 2021, the backlog was 257 482 to March 2019. We have managed to produce 73 834 passports,” Nhepera told the MPs.