President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said his government is going to expedite the provision of national identity documents such as birth certificates and ID cards to communities that were affected by Gukurahundi.
Gukurahundi is a term used to refer to a military operation carried out by the North Korean-trained 5th Brigade of the Zimbabwe National Army in Matabeleland and Midlands in the 1980s which resulted in the death of an estimated 20 000 Ndebele people.
Writing in his weekly column in The Sunday News, Mnangagwa said those affected by Gukurahundi were right in feeling that they were being marginalised. He said:
In my interaction with many rural communities, especially in those areas affected by disturbances which visited us in the early years of our Independence, it became very clear to me that many of our citizens did not have birth certificates, or identity cards, let alone passports.
Those affected felt they lived on the margins of citizenship, and rightly so.
For families in communities affected by the early disturbances, this amounted to a healing delay, indeed a painful reminder of the trauma they had endured and lived through, a pain which continued to manifest through their failure to access these key national documents.
Investigations revealed that this unhappy state of affairs owed to many factors, among them the onerous and rigid registration requirements the authorities demanded issuance of these vital documents by which citizenship is either validated or rendered nominal or even denied, depending on access.
The other reasons related to costs which both a centralised and city-centred service imposed on those who needed the service the most, yet afforded the costs of getting it the least.
We resolved the matter through a series of decisions which, among other measures, simplified requirements for issuance of documents; measures which brought the service closer to communities through mobile registration and issuance units, and through decentralisation and making the registration process free.
I am now happy that access to birth certificates and national identity cards has vastly improved, with many who had lived in the twilight zone of citizenship feeling they now belong and are empowered.
More: The Sunday News