Judiciary complicit in Zimbabwe statelessness dilema


Zimbabwe birth certificate

from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Bureau
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE Zimbabwean High Court has ordered the Registrar-General (RG) to end the statelessness dilemma of two minor children by registering their births and issue them with birth certificates within a week.

The minors, who are aged 10 and 12 years old, had been undocumented since birth and rendered stateless in the land of their birth after RG Henry Machiri withheld the issuance of their birth certificates.

There are demands that their mother’s estranged husband, who left for the United Kingdom (UK) several years ago and whose whereabouts are unknown, should produce a disclaimer affidavit disowning the two girls and also asked their biological father to furnish the RG’s Office with Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) test results confirming the paternity of the children.

The mother of the minor children subsequently entered into a relationship with another man and gave birth to the two girls in 2012 and 2014. This is confirmed in the birth confirmation records from Mpilo Central Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals, where the two girls were born.

Over the years, the mother unsuccessfully attempted to process the birth certificates for her children and in her recent attempt, sometime in January 2023, she was advised by authorities at the Bulawayo District Registry, that she must either produce a disclaimer affidavit from her estranged husband confirming that the children are not his or a divorce decree from the High Court or DNA test results confirming the paternity of the children.

However, she was not in possession of any of the required documents leading to the minors living and remaining as undocumented.

The 12 year-old is scheduled to register for her Grade Seven examinations, which will be written later this year and her school has demanded to be furnished with a birth certificate in order to facilitate her registration.

The mother has sought the assistance of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

High Court Judge, Justice Nokuthula Moyo, recently ordered the RG to register and issue the birth certificates within a week.

Moyo castigated the conduct of authorities at the RG’s Office for refusing to register births of children without availing valid reasons, which she said is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution and was contributing to statelessness and was a denial of access to documentation of deserving people.

Moyo stated the RG does not have powers to order DNA tests among other requirements to prove paternity and emphasised that it was not the duty of the RG to enquire into and regulate the marital status of the parents applying for birth certificates for their minor children.

– CAJ News

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