By Nkosana Dlamini
DOZENS of disadvantaged residents from Harare’s Hopley Farm Wednesday finally managed to register under the biometric voter registration (bvr) exercise following the successful intervention of elections based NGO – Election Resource Centre (ERC) – which pressured Registrar General (RG) Tobaiwa Mudede’s (pictured) office to issue them with national identity cards.
Among the residents are those who had failed to obtain IDs because they grew up without parents who could facilitate the acquisition of the documents, those who lost the documents and those whose original IDs had been defaced beyond continued use.
When government rolled out the bvr process which was accompanied by the issuance of free IDs by the RG, many still found it difficult to obtain the documents after officials from Mudede’s officials continuously made demands which made it impossible to do so.
Some were made to make regular visits to the RG’s office while still failing to obtain the documents while others were simply referred to their rural district offices for the service. The majority under those under 35 who could also not afford travel fares to go and obtain IDs.
With most of the cases bordering on apparent denial of the documents in violation of individuals’ rights, ERC was alerted of the anomalies through its call centre resulting in the group sponsoring over two hundred residents to go and demand their rights to be issued with the essential documents.
Although officials initially resisted delivering the service citing reasons, among them, that they had exhausted their day’s limit, the residents, led by the group, defiantly pronounced their rights to being issued with the documents until officials gave in.
Speaking to the media at a bvr centre in Hopley farm on Wednesday, residents said they were thankful to ERC which led the process.
“We are very thankful to ERC for facilitating this process because we were being frustrated by the RG each time we went there to try and obtain IDs. I had spent up to $20 travelling back and forth in attempts to obtain an ID,” said Prosper Mapiki.
Terrence Samkange, a 32-year-old, said he lost his job after he had continuously failed to produce his ID to his employer.
“I was so frustrated. I lost my parents long ago and found it tough to obtain an ID. God bless ERC for helping me to finally obtain the document,” he said tearfully.
Similarly, Brenda Chipapika (32) was assisted to get an ID after she had been referred to her rural home in Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe to go and replace the document which had been damaged by rain.
She had failed to raise fares to travel to her rural place.
Kudzanayi Mukoko, who is in the ERC communications department, said of the 243 Hopley and Southlea Park residents they had accompanied to the RG’s office on Monday, 33 were issued with IDs and 64 obtained birth certificates.
Of the 64 people, 15 have since been issued with IDs while the others were referred to district centres to obtain the documents.
Mukoko said 45 were still to obtain birth certificates as they had lost traces of their parenthood and origins.
Despite the pitfalls, Mukoko said they were thankful as ERC for the breakthrough.
“For us it’s a success story that atleast we have managed to advocate for some people who have finally managed to obtain birth certificates and IDs which they have managed to use to register with bvr.
“Our interest as ERC is for the people to exercise their right to engage in electoral processes,” she said.