Lawyers press registrar general over failure to issue ID cards

HARARE – Human rights lawyers have pressed the Registrar General for details on how many people were issued with identity documents between November 2021 and this month.

The move comes as the main opposition and rights activist have accused the government of not issuing IDs to young people, they say in a bid to stop them registering as voters ahead of general elections next year.

Tinashe Chinopfukutwa and Paidamoyo Saurombe of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights first raised their concerns with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which referred them to the Acting Registrar General Henry Machiri.

In a statement on Tuesday, the ZLHR said: “We have since written a letter to Machiri asking him to provide us with the number of people who have been issued with national IDs from November 2021 to date per province.”

The lawyers are also demanding details of the dates and places where the Registrar General intends to roll out a mobile ID issuance programme in March.

“We are expecting to receive this information by Wednesday, failure of which we will institute legal proceedings for an order compelling RG Machiri to furnish us with the requested information and an order compelling him to conduct the mobile voter registration exercise as per his undertaking,” said the lawyers.

Chinopfukutwa and Saurombe said their request is “in the exercise of our right of access to information, which entitles us to access information held by the state or government agencies.”

Last week, Home Affairs secretary Aaron Nhepera said Garsu Pasaulis, a Lithuanian company controversially issued a tender to produce the country’s new passport documents had also been given a mandate for ID production.

“At the end of March, we are going to embark on an extensive exercise where the Registrar General will issue IDs and this will coincide with the voter registration blitz (second phase) in preparation for the delimitation exercise,” Nhepera said.

He said the Registrar General was not issuing IDs due to “challenges with consumables”, adding: “We are working with Garsu Pasaulis to ensure the RG’s Office begins to operate at an optimum level. We began with issuing passports, and now we will be moving to IDs.”

The main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) says it is targeting the youth vote and is keen to see thousands of people who turned 18 since the last election in 2018 being issued with IDs which are required when one is registering as a voter.

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