From missing birth and death records to the shambolic state of the voters’ roll, the RG’s office has attracted flak from many quarters. Public perception of the office has also not been helped by the chaos witnessed at Makombe Building where hundreds of people visit every day in search of passports and other identity documents.
Faced with mounting criticism from MDC formations and civil society organisations, Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede has come out in defence of his office, claiming everything “is perfect” at the central registry.
But his attempts to sanitise the department have been seriously undermined by the results of a month-long investigation by The Standard carried in this issue.
A probe into the case of a Mutare man who, when seeking to renew his passport, was instead told he was long dead and shown the death certificate to boot, yet he is alive and well, confirms what has all along been feared; that records are in a mess and urgently need to be cleaned up.
The implications of this single case are too ghastly to contemplate.
The case proves that details kept at RG’s office can easily be manipulated to disastrous consequences.
False death certificates can allow criminals to illegally access pensions and other benefits while from a political point of view, these entries can deprive Zimbabweans their democratic right to vote.
There have been numerous complaints that supporters of opposition parties have turned up at the polls only to realise that their names were not on the roll, said to contain scores of dead people. Even more worrying is how many victims of political violence have been disposed of under assumed identities?
Mudede should stop defending his department and, instead, initiate a reform agenda that should result in the compilation of proper records.
With politicians hinting on elections sometime this year or 2013, this is the right time to work on the roll because a shambolic voter’s roll can only result in a contested election outcome.