MASVINGO – The Zimbabwean government has established satellite centres for the registration of births and deaths to specifically cater for people in the areas recently ravaged by Cyclone Idai, amid reports thousands lost essential documents during the tragedy.
Manicaland and Masvingo provinces – in the eastern and southern parts of the country respectively, were the hardest hit and thousands were left in need of documents such as birth certificates, identity cards and death certificates.
Registrar general Clemence Masango said his officers were busy issuing documents, after they established satellite centres to avoid the villagers from moving to faraway places to obtain the essential documents.
Masango said the exercise would continue in the affected areas until all those who need essential documents were served.
“This exercise has been a success and we hope that all the affected areas will be covered because satellite centres have been set up,” said Masango.
“The affected people lost nearly all their goods including documents hence the decision to establish satellite centres. We are also issuing death certificates so that those who died during the disaster are buried on-time.”
Masango, who took over as registrar general when the long-serving Tobaiwa Mudede was forced to retire last year, said shortage of foreign currency had gripped his department, resulting in delays in the issuance of passports and identity cards.
The registrar general’s department, which falls under the ministry of home affairs, has reverted back to using paper when issuing identity documents. The paper identity cards had at some point been phased out in favour of instant plastic IDs.
“We have reverted to using paper because we do not have foreign currency to procure the needed items to produce plastic identity documents,” said the registrar general.
“Even those who need passports will have to wait longer because of the shortage of foreign currency.”
Zimbabweans who need ordinary passports, which cost 50 bond notes, will have to wait for almost seven months for the document, after they apply. Those who need emergency passports will fork out US$.
“The paper we use to produce passports is expensive hence we need foreign currency to procure it,” said Masango.
Thousands of people in Southern and eastern Zimbabwe were left homeless while hundreds were killed and others still missing when Cyclone Idai induced rains hit the country leaving a trail of destruction.
The floods also swept across Malawi and Mozambique killing hundreds of people. In Zimbabwe, bodies of some of the people who perished are being recovered with the assistance of South African hired cadaver dogs.