National documentation inquiry on cards

Walter Nyamukondiwa Kariba Bureau
THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) is set to roll out a five-month national inquiry on identity documents to establish gaps and the extent of their unavailability among Zimbabweans.

The inquiry is part of fostering and enforcement of human rights enshrined in the Constitution, which states that everyone has a right to an identity.

Speaking on the sidelines of the human rights training for Government officials and community leaders in Kariba recently, ZHRC chief human rights officer Mrs Karukai Ratsauka said the commission was responding to widespread and recurrent challenges of documentation among Zimbabweans.

The inquiry is expected to begin in the first week of July in Masvingo and spread to other provinces until the end of November.

“We are going to be conducting a National Inquiry on Documentation and the first public hearings will be held in Masvingo, starting in the first week of July.

“The issue of identity documents — including birth certificates, national IDs, passports, citizenship for those formerly known as aliens and death certificates —has become a crisis issue,” she said.

Said Mrs Ratsauka: “We are saying that it is an issue given the number of complaints that we are receiving from the generality of the people. People always raise it during our awareness outreaches on human rights.

“As a commission, we have a mandate to inspect old people’s homes, children’s homes and other places of detention and this issue of documentation always comes up.”

She said the inquiry will run from July to end of November.

Turning to the acceptance of human rights in the country, she said Zimbabweans had embraced the concept.

“We are very happy about the positive development in terms of acceptance of human rights. We have long shifted from a situation where people did not want to discuss human rights issues,” she said.

“There is a positive shift among Government officials and departments as shown by their attendance to the programmes where the issues are being discussed. We have realised that Government officials as duty bearers have long embraced human rights and the human rights based approach we are promoting.”

She said while there have been isolated incidents of concern regarding economic and social rights as a result of the economic situation in the country, there has been overall improvement in terms of human rights.