By Lungile Moyo and Loveness Nyathi
Women of all ages and walks of life have welcomed with excitement and hope recent news that the fifty dollars $50 (US/bond) administartion fee for Birth Certificate registration of children born outside Zimbabwe by the Registrar’s office had last week been suspended with immediate effect.
This means that with effect from 12 December 2018, the Registrar’s office will no longer be demanding the $50 (US dollars or Bond) which has been compalsory for children born outside Zimbabwe to pay in order for them to get a Zimbabwean birth certificate.
Many mothers, grand mothers and guardians have been struggling to get birth documents for children in their care due to failure to raise these funds leading to many children growing up and even forced to attend school without these documents.
Amakhosikazi Media spoke to a number of women to find out their feelings on this development and many expressed relief at the decision taken by government.
Angel Ndlovu who is based in South Africa and has a child who was born in South Africa and has been failing to get a Zimbabwe birth certificate for her said she was very happy and relieved by the development as she could not afford to pay the fees. She said she is now going to come back home just for the purposes of registering her child.
Felicity Moyo who is also based in South Africa said that she is happy and relieved about the scrapping off of the fines and she considers this as a huge development that will change the lives of many parents who face challenges when trying to register their children.
Nobukhosi Dlodlo a grandmother who is raising a 7 years old orphan who was born in South Africa said she has been failing to register her granddaughter after her mother passed on because of the demands that she couldn’t afford.
“l have been failing to register my granddaughter after her mother passed on because she was born in South Africa and now that the costs have been reduced to $2 my grandchild will now get her identity and partake in school activities such as sports without being hindered”, said Dlodlo.
Efforts to get official confirmation and comment from the RG's Bulawayo office were fruitless as their phones continuously went unanswered.
Mr Phumulani Mpofu the Director of Trinity Project, an organisation which has been advocating for the removal of these charges for years and has been helping individual families access documents for their loved ones, confirmed to Amakhosikazi media that indeed the charges had been removed.
“The $50 waver was a result of an access to documentation survey which was conducted by a consortium of twelve (12) civic organisations in Matabeleland North, South and Bulawayo Provinces. With the help of Honourable Member of Parliament for Bulawayo Metropolitan, Jasmine Toffa who presented our plea to the First Lady of Zimbabwe Mrs Auxillia Mnangagwa on 15 January 2018, an extensive debate was held in parliament on 15 February on the issue which eventually led to the scrapping of the USD$50 charge with effect from 12 December 2018”, said Mr Mpofu.
“l also called the Registrar’s office who confirmed the notice to be true”, he added.
Mpofu also said that registration for children born outside Zimbabwe is now similar to those born in Zimbabwe.
“Children who are 0-6 years don’t pay any fee but those above six (6) years will pay a fee of $2 and this is a huge relief to parents with children without birth cetificates”, he said.
Matabeleland regions and Bulawayo have seen many children go without birth documents due to inadequate requirements demanded at the Registrar General's offices and the high fees that had been demanded for children born to economic refugees in neighbouring countries. Due to work, high cost of living and better education system many Zimbabweans prefer to send their children back to Zimbabwe for school as well as to be cared for by relatives. In worse off cases children whose parents have passed on and are left with their grandparents or other relatives also suffered as their guardians could not afford to pay the required fees for them to get Zimbabwean birth documents.
Asked how this development came about Mr Mpofu said that after the survey which was done by several civic organisations it was discovered that about 43 percent of children both born outside and in Zimbabwe do not have birth certificates. This led to various lobby and advocacy measures to try and raise awareness on the issue to policy makers, Government, community leaders, parents and other stakeholders.
“For the past years’ birth certificate registration requirements for children born outside Zimbabwe included $50 (bond or US$) administration charge, $20 fine paid to the police for bringing the child into Zimbabwe without the correct documents (smuggling), baby's hospital health card and place of birth record, the birth certificates and national IDs of both parents and certified photo copies of the two documents,” said Mpofu.
This has significantly reduced the overall hurdles that parents and guardians have been facing in getting documents for their children.