Bulawayo - A birth certificate is an essential document that one should not struggle to obtain as it lays the foundation to the validity of the status of the individual, particularly for children as they grow up in the modern world.
While it is almost impossible for one to progress in life without a birth certificate, there are still children in Bulawayo today who do not have such important documents, something which is a cause for concern for both parents and guardians.
Zone Four Community Action Team (CAT) members recently told their councillors, during a Zimbabwe Development Democracy (ZDDT)-facilitated meeting, some parents and guardians in the areas were having a torrid time getting the documents for their children.
Zone Four covers Wards 20, 22 and 23, all in Nkulumane Township.
The challenges faced by these children are not peculiar to it as they cut across other parts of the city.
What complicates the issue is that some babies, born of Zimbabwean parents illegally working in neighbouring countries such as South Africa, are sent back home without proper documentation, to grandparents, most of whom are very old.
CAT members said some incidents involve teenagers who give birth, go to South Africa and then leave behind babies with their grandmothers who then have to carry the burden of ensuring that they are documented with the Registrar General’s Office (RGO).
This has resulted in a situation whereby some children go as far as grade 7 without proper documentation.
Cllr Gideon Mangena, Ward 24, told ZDDT News he is always seized with the matter of children without birth certificates in his area.
“The complicated issue of children without certificates is one of the issues I deal with almost on a daily basis,” said Cllr Mangena.
He said he was working with two community members in identifying undocumented children in order to assist them.
“Once a list of 10 children has been complied, we then look for witnesses and then send them to the Registrar General’s Office (RGO) with my letter,” he said.
Cllr Norman Hlabano, Ward 26, said some schools refer pupils without birth certificates to his office for assistance, adding he always writes for them confirmation letters to be taken to the RGO.
He said they were also appealing to the government to roll-out the mobile registration exercise to cut on the expenses by the elderly who have to move to take children from one office to another.
Cllr Gladys Masuku, Ward 10, said, in her area, there are now fewer children without birth certificates, adding she worked tirelessly with the community writing confirmation letters to the RGO.
“Many parents and guardians have been coming to inform me that they managed to get those birth certificates after I wrote those numerous letters,” said Cllr Masuku.