BULAWAYO – Residents in the city have expressed concern over the growing number of children who are not going to school, partly due to the fact that they do not have birth certificates.
“Children are out of school because of these birth certificates. Even if we try to go and register them, there are just so many questions such as ‘where was the child born’ and so forth,” said Senzeni Bhebhe, of Old Pumula.
She was speaking to ZDDT News recently after Amazing Stars Arts Academy (ASAA) highlighted the challenge with their drama event in the township.
ASAA, in partnership with ZDDT, stages shows across Bulawayo promoting citizen mobilisation through drama while also highlighting challenges being faced by residents in the communities.
“The issue of birth certificates is a problematic one because some people of my age, who lost their parents while they were young, still do not have birth certificates,” said Nobert Moyo, pictured below, who is in his early 20s.
“Those people were born in Zimbabwe and have health cards and we would really want the government to assist in ensuring they are properly documented.”
Mthulisi Moyo, another resident, said the issue of birth certificates was a nation-wide problem, adding it was unacceptable for people over 20 years to continue without the essential documents.
The matter of undocumented citizens has many other down-stream implications and it all begins with birth registration.
He explained: “At the registry offices there are so many requirements. I am also personally pained because I live among people without birth certificates.”
Ward 23 Community Action Team (CAT) members said the problems with acquisition of birth certificates were not peculiar to children born outside the country as those born locally also suffer the same fate.
CAT members are community leaders who were trained by ZDDT to work with councillors in their respective wards to spearhead developmental programmes and projects and provide a second tier of leadership.
Agnes Anderson, of Ward 19 said it was regrettable that the moment some guardians, when told of the money to pay in order to facilitate the birth registration of their children, shirk this responsibility.
She said it was important that parents attend formal meetings where issues of birth registration are extensively discussed so they can get first-hand information instead of relying on community leaders whom they later blame when they fail to secure the essential documents.
Sicelo Tshuma, another Ward 19 CAT member, suggested that a day be set aside when Justice for Children Trust could be invited to Pumula for one-on- one consultations with parents and guardians on the problematic subject of birth registration.