By Caroline Chimba
A parliamentary panel has proposed that Zimbabwe’s 39 embassies across the globe be empowered to issue national documentation such as IDs and passports to migrants to decongest the Registrar General’s office.
The parliamentary portfolio committee on Defence and Home Affairs has proposed that Zimbabwean embassies be allowed to process births and deaths, marriages, citizenship, national identity documents, and issue travel documents including passports and temporary Travel Documents (TTDs).
Currently, Zimbabweans living abroad are required to submit passport applications to the Zimbabwe Embassy in that country or the nearest embassy in neighbouring countries, for onward transmission of the applications to Harare. If there are no embassies, applicants have to come back home before their passports expire for renewal.
Research shows that over three million Zimbabweans live in the Diaspora, in countries like the United Kingdom, US, Australia and New Zealand, with South Africa having the highest number of nearly 2,2 million Zimbabweans.
Speaking to the Daily News after the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission national consultative meeting on Access to Documentation, committee chairperson Levi Mayihlome said his committee is working on ensuring that every citizen access documentation as it is their right.
“We as a committee we are advocating for national documents like passports, ID and birth certificates to be issued at our embassies, but the honours remain in the office of the Registrar to implement to decide,” Mayihlome said.
He said the proposal is in line with section 35(1) and (3) of the Constitution that guarantees access to national documents for Zimbabwean citizens.
Section 81 of the same Constitution further provides for the rights of a child who is a Zimbabwean citizen, born in or outside Zimbabwe to be given a name and to be provided with a birth certificate.
According to ZHRC, lack of national documentation result in statelessness, restriction to freedom of movement in and outside the country, restriction to access of healthcare services and many more.
ZHRC deputy chairperson Ellen Sithole said the ongoing national inquiry on documentation will culminate in the commission making recommendations for achievement of improved and efficient access to documentation in Zimbabwe.
The Inquiry will be conducted in all provinces and is expected to be complete by June this year. DailyNews