Local communities in Makoni District have called on the Registrar’s office to decentralise its services to ward and village level. This came out during a series of Interface meetings in 6 different wards of Makoni namely Ward 37, Ward 10, Ward 16, Ward 12, Ward 13, and Ward 32. The meetings were conducted by Family Visions Child Trust (FVCT), with the support of Heal Zimbabwe.
The Registrar office interface meetings were meant to sensitize community members and the office of the Registrar General on factors affecting women and children’s access to documentation. In its address, the Registrar’s office highlighted it was imperative for guardians and caregivers to ensure that every child acquires identity documentation since Section 35 (3) (c) highlights that, “every citizen are entitled to birth certificates and other identity documents issues by the State.” It further highlighted that this was an international obligation stipulated by the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child (UNCRC) which highlights that every child has a right to identity.
Nonetheless, community members from across the 6 wards demanded that the Registrar’s office to decentralise its services to ward and village levels, and relax some of the documents required for one to register a child. ”We do not have money for transport to access the Registrar’s office in Rusape.What makes it even more difficult is that in some instances we have to take witnesses with us to the Registrars’ office, only to be told to go back and collect other missing documents such as Birth Records and Baby Cards. The Registrar’s office must decentralise its services to ward and village level so that it becomes easy for us to register our children, access information on requisite requirements for one to register an orphan among other things,” said one participant. Other issues that came out during the meeting include challenges faced by Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in accessing documentation. Participants also expressed reluctance by the Registrar’s office to devolve its services since during previous elections, it has devolved its services by setting up mobile clinics in local communities.”We have seen mobile clinics being set up by the Registrar’s office during elections. The human infrastructure for it to decentralise its services is there but in my view it is the lack of will that is missing. Added to this, decentralizing of services is also part of devolution that is proved for in Section 264 of the constitution”, added another participant. The interface meeting saw the Registrar’s office assisting 5 individuals per ward from the 6 mentioned wards. The 30 people included people with disabilities who could not commute to the District office to process their documentation.
As part of way forward, FVCT promised to engage the Provincial Registrar’s office with the view of seeking it to give the nod to the office in Rusape to establish mobile registration facilities in wards and villages so that local communities can access services. The initiative by Family Visions Child Trust is one among many initiatives by Heal Zimbabwe Trust to strengthen capacity of citizens to uphold participation, inclusion, transparency, accountability and responsiveness principles and mechanisms in governance and service delivery sectors.