By Freeman Razemba
Zimbabweans living abroad can now apply for birth certificates for their children born on foreign soil through the country’s embassies, Registrar-General Mr Clemence Masango, has said.
Mr Masango told journalists yesterday that his office no longer requires parents of such children to come home to process the documents.
He said the department had also slashed birth certificate processing fees for such cases from $50 to $2, payable using the multi-currency system for children above the age of six.
For children under six years, the registration was free, he said.
“The Department received concerns and complaints from our citizens living and working abroad, particularly in South Africa, that the current cost of US$50 for an external birth certificate was too high and beyond the reach of many. This situation had resulted in a significant number of children born especially in South Africa remaining undocumented,” said Mr Masango.
“These children faced numerous challenges that include failure to be registered in schools and parents that could not afford the fee of US$50 ended up claiming, falsely of course, that their children were born in Zimbabwe, thereby affecting both the quality and accuracy of information given during and for the purpose of registration,” he said.
He said Zimbabweans living abroad had always wanted to know why they were made to pay the US$50 for their children born abroad when children born in the country enjoy free birth registration up to the age of six.
“Admittedly, this position cannot be defended and should not be allowed to continue. Zimbabweans are entitled to be treated the same and no section of our community deserves to be discriminated against,” Mr Masango said, referring to Section 56 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe that provides for equal and non-discrimination treatment.
“Accordingly, registration for an initial birth certificate in respect of a person who is six years or younger is now free. The fee for an initial external birth registration in respect of a person who is older than six years is now $2,” he said.
Mr Masango also said the department had decentralised the processing of external birth certificates to all districts and provincial registries and that applications would be accepted and processed at these centres.
He said the public were free to visit these offices with their national identity documents, marriage certificates where applicable and birth confirmation records from the country where their children were born.
“We believe this is a step in the right direction to bring service to the people and make it easier for them to do business with us. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has been requested to help in disseminating this information and development to all our embassies and Zimbabwean citizens abroad,” Mr Masango said.
He said they would continue to be an available, listening and responsive civil registration institution, open to dialogue and committed to ensuring the country becomes a middle income economy by 2030. The Herald