The High Court has ordered the Registrar General’s Office to issue a Bulawayo resident with a birth certificate after overturning a decision by the provincial registrar to block him from changing his first name.
REPORT BY SILAS NKALA
High Court judge, Maxwell Takuva ruled that the Registrar General should issue Bayanai Tshuma of Pumula South with a new birth certificate.
Tshuma (50), who was being represented by lawyer Job Sibanda, filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court on April 9 seeking an order compelling the Registrar’s General Office to issue him with a birth certificate with a different name.
He had visited the Registrar General’s Offices in Bulawayo several times seeking a new birth certificate with a changed name, but to no avail.
In his founding affidavit, Tshuma submitted that the Provincial Registrar of births and deaths in Bulawayo should be compelled by the court order to issue him a birth certificate after he complied with the statutory requirements for changing names.
“I have attended over the last few years at the respondent’s offices in an effort to apply for a change of name,” he said. “Prior to lodging this application, I attended the respondent’s office not less than three times. I was told that in order to change my forename, I required the services of a lawyer.”
Tshuma indicated that he approached his lawyer who then wrote a letter to the respondent indicating that according to section 18 (2) (a) of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, the Registrar’s Office could alter his name without executing a notarial deed of change of name.
“My understanding is that the Registrar has no discretion in the matter. Although the law is couched in terms that suggest that the Registrar has the final say in whether a person can change his name or not, my submission is the Registrar does not in fact have such discretion,” submitted Tshuma.
He said officials told him that since he was now old, it would not be possible to change names “as many people know me through the name I wanted to change”.
Tshuma wanted to abandon the first name Bayanai replacing it with Norman.
Justice Takuva granted Tshuma’s application on Thursday.
“The respondent be and is hereby directed that upon payment by the applicant of the requisite fee and lodgment by him of the necessary application for a change of forename, respondent attend to issue applicant the required birth certificate,” ruled Takuva.