Manicaland highest among provinces with undocumented citizens, report

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

ZIMBABWEANS living in Manicaland province top the list of locals who do not have any official identification particulars in their possession.

This came out Wednesday at the launch of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) National Inquiry into issues around access to national documentation.

The report states that lack of access to national documentation are some of the major human rights challenges confronting citizens.

ZHRC chairperson Elastor Mugwadi said the high number of undocumented individuals in the country’s border province with Mozambique could be a sign that some people are not decided on whether they were Zimbabwean citizens or those of the neighbouring country.

“…It may be because of the closeness to Mozambique, inter-relatedness of the people,” Mugwadi told guests to the launch event.

“People in Espungabera (in Mozambique) would normally consider themselves Zimbabweans or Mozambicans.

“The border is not so well defined that one can’t tell whether this is where Zimbabwe begins and ends or this is where Mozambique begins.

“So you would find Manicaland province has a huge number of these problems followed by Matabeleland North and South provinces.”

He added, “The Matabeleland provinces mainly because of economic hardships here. Parents, especially fathers, are used to going across the Limpopo to seek employment whilst it is the mother who is left on her own. So many questions are asked of them.”

The ZHRC boss also said the problem of undocumented citizens could also be caused by the long distances and cumbersome processes one has to endure to obtain a simple identity document.

“You find people who are around the Birchenough Bridge are required to travel 120 kilometres to go to Murambinda to go and acquire a birth certificate that is pretty tough for the ordinary people,” he said.

“And if they delay, the requirements become even more stringent which needs witnesses to prove if they were born in that area and may end up needing the support from the headmen.”

Mugwadi said some people were not aware of the significance of holding of a national document like a birth certificate.

According to ZHRC, there are no nationally agreed statistics on access to documentation.