Zimbabwe’s ID crisis deepens, citizens in desperate struggle!


Thousands of citizens in Zimbabwe are facing significant challenges as the Registrar-General’s Office has reportedly run out of consumables needed for producing national identity documents (IDs).

This has resulted in a resurfacing IDs crisis, with several registry offices across the country, including major cities, no longer issuing polythene ID cards. Instead, they are providing green waiting passes to applicants, causing delays of up to five months for birth certificates.

The scarcity of IDs has led to some individuals, particularly those in rural areas, having to travel long distances to the Harare Civil Registry offices in order to obtain their IDs. However, it has been reported that the Harare office issues no more than 200 IDs per day. Consequently, desperate individuals are forced to endure lengthy queues, with opportunistic touts charging up to US$15 to bypass the lines. Some citizens are even paying as much as US$100 to expedite the production of their IDs.

Unnamed officials from various registry offices have disclosed that the machines used to process polythene IDs are also experiencing issues. However, Registrar-General Henry Machiri denied the consumables shortage, stating to the NewsDay that the problem had been addressed before the elections. He acknowledged occasional machine or network failures but did not provide specific details regarding offices currently unable to issue IDs.

Machiri confirmed that the Harare Registry Office is currently processing a limited number of IDs, ranging from 200 to 230 per day, depending on printer availability. Home Affairs ministry secretary Raphael Faranisi neither confirmed nor denied the reports, emphasizing the government’s efforts to decentralize national registration centers and enhance accessibility.

Albert Nguluvhe, chairperson of the Defence, Home Affairs, Veterans of the Liberation Struggle, and Security Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, expressed unawareness of consumables shortages but acknowledged the issue of citizens travelling long distances for IDs. The committee plans to investigate the matter and revealed the Registrar’s Office’s intent to empower chiefs to facilitate document issuance.

Human rights lawyer Tinashe Chinopfukutwa criticized the government for infringing on citizens’ rights by failing to issue IDs promptly. He highlighted constitutional provisions mandating the state to ensure all citizens have access to birth certificates and identity documents and emphasized citizens’ right to fair and efficient administrative conduct at the Registrar’s Office.

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