By Leopold Munhende
CITIZENS seeking national identity documents or birth certificates in Harare must wait for at least three months to acquire the papers due to a network failure that has stalled operations at the Civil Registry offices.
Residents of Harare, who are braving the cold winter, are queuing in their thousands early in the morning only to be booked for proper application of an ID for August at Market Square or September at Makombe Building.
A visit by NewZimbabwe.com to the two registry offices revealed only a handful people were having their documents processed.
A source at Market Square said network at the registry offices had not been down over the past two weeks, and there was no update as to when the issue would be addressed.
“Our network is down and there is no way we can serve so many people manually because the job will still be half done on our part,” said the source who requested anonymity.
“We are yet to get an update from our seniors on when it will be up and have been prioritising students, especially those in examination classes.
“Bookings are made to everyone seeking an ID or birth certificate and right now the queue is up to August and approaching September each day.”
However, efforts by NewZimbabwe.com to get a comment from Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe were fruitless.
The challenge to acquire documents reached a peak last weekend after the government had set aside Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 June for students writing their final Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) examinations this year.
However, lack of adequate staff at the registry offices and a shortage of processing material stalled the process in most provinces leaving thousands of students stranded.
The government said the decision to suspend the process was a precautionary measure considering rising Covid-19 cases.
“The programme was meant for ‘O’ and ‘A’ Level students who want to register for their exams only,” Kazembe said at the weekend.
However, “It turned out that all youths who need IDs came, even some who are not even in school. This becomes a problem with this Covid-19 pandemic, hence the programme will be called off in view of the risks involved.”
In its report on documentation in Zimbabwe (We are like Stray Animals), Amnesty International said there are over 300 000 people who are in danger of being rendered stateless as they do not have IDs.
The report indicated those without documentation are poor, marginalised, discriminated against, disenfranchised, and politically excluded.