By Fani Mapfumo
There was drama on Monday at the ongoing National Inquiry on Access to Documentation after the Registrar General (RG), Clemence Masango, accused the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) of bias, resultantly refusing to co-operate with them.
Masango accused the commissioners of tainting his department through the media, labelling them as corrupt and inefficient.
“It is our concern that from the way the proceedings have been conducted, this is no longer an inquiry per se because on many occasions, officials in the department have been labelled corrupt, inefficient and this has been reported in various newspapers.
“The ZHRC’s commissioners have been quoted verbatim (alleging the registrar’s office was corrupt) and that fact has not been refuted as far as I know,” Masango said.
The RG said the behaviour by the ZHRC was a direct affront on his office, adding that he would soon be drafting a formal submission on the actions by the commission.
Masango indicated that the ongoing inquiry was no longer investigative, but was turning confrontational.
The human rights watchdog chairperson, Elasto Mugwadi, said his office had no control over media releases, adding the registrar had no reason to feel threatened by the commission’s work.
Mugwadi dismissed allegations of bias, saying his office had said nothing wrong as information in their possession was public property, adding that if he was conflicted, his office would give the RG proof of the allegations collected from hearings countrywide.
“You may have heard him citing incidents from newspapers and other two commissioners, but getting that from newspapers is immaterial because newspapers report differently. We are, therefore, disregarding his reactions to that (NewsDay article),” Mugwadi said.
He also dismissed Masango’s accusations and said there was no reason why his office would be targeting him, as they were bigger than the registrar’s office.
“Why on earth would we be targeting him or his office. None of us would need that office. After all, our office is bigger than the registrar’s office.
“So, why would we have an issue with him as an individual,” Mugwadi asked.
The ZHRC is currently on a fact-finding mission to establish why many Zimbabweans have failed to attain basic identifications like passports, birth certificates and national identity cards.
Many Zimbabweans have recently been facing difficulties in accessing passports and identity cards as the government is currently short of foreign currency to purchase the materials needed for the different documents.
The RG’s office currently has a backlog of more than 750 000 passports and it is said to be printing only about 4 000 travelling documents per day. Zim Morning Post