Central Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kabwe says every child should have a birth certificate so that their nationality is not questioned when they want to stand as MP or president.
And Media Network on Child Rights and Development executive director Henry Kabwe says it is every child’s right to own a birth certificate as proof of nationality.
Meanwhile some local health centres in Kabwe say late child naming has proved to be one of the challenges of late birth certificate registration.
But speaking in Kabwe on Thursday when a team from the Department of National Registration, Passports and Citizenship paid a courtesy call on him at his office, Kabwe also appealed to journalist to use their various platforms to sensitise masses on the need for acquiring birth certificates.
“We need these documents such as a birth certificate which is very important for a child to come and excel in life. It is one of the requisites that are very important and also controversial. I am glad that the media who like controversial stories such as when one is aspiring to be a president then they say he is a Zimbabwean, he is a Malawian, he is who, are here now to inform. We want each and every child to have a birth certificate so that at the time a child wants to be a president or MP, he will not questioned that you are a foreigner. So our parents in the rural areas especially in the rural parts of central province may not know this information but your government and the support that we have received from our key partners who have helped us, we have brought these services closer to our people. Previously it used to be only in Lusaka. For me I had even lost hope because every time I submitted the papers of my second born son to have a birth certificate, it goes to Lusaka, it takes one year to come back, after one year, documents are missing and you resubmit again and again,” Kabwe said.
He said with the procurement of a new birth certificate printing centre in Kabwe, the system had eased the previous long process of acquiring a birth certificate.
“I even told the provincial principle registrar that I have lost hope because if at my level as PS I am still struggling to get these documents which are a right of any child who is a Zambian, what more for my people [that] I am serving in Luano, in Chitambo? Are they going to have access to it? So you find that at the age of 21 [years], at the age of 30 [years] or at the age of 50 [years], somebody has no birth certificate because it was very difficult for them to get. The population of Zambia has been growing since the last census in 2010 and the demand for these services are also growing,” he said.
Chanda warned that government would in future stop those without birth certificates from opening bank accounts just like it was the case for those serving in the public service to have a grade twelve certificate.
“In the near future, we will stop you from even opening a bank account because maybe you want to swindle. So you never know what will come in the next 20-30 years. Have you seen after passing the new Constitution that you need to have a grade twelve certificate as a requisition for you to be in government and now all of us have gone back to school. And now I don’t even know how many leave forms I have approved. I have approved over 200 leave forms for people to go and re-sit or improve on certain studies,” Kabwe said.
He said registering for a birth certificate assisted government when planning for its people.
And Kasanda clinic focal point officer in Kabwe Emmannuel Mwale said from the time a certificate printer was taken to Kabwe, his clinic alone had registered 94 birth certificates.
“We started in 2015 and we have done more than three hundred plus birth certificates, because I think in 2015 alone from October to December we had over 80 certificates. In 2016, there were almost about 200 plus certificates that had been registered. I think between 2015 and 2017 we had that problem because the certificates were being printed in Lusaka unlike now where this is now done centrally,” Mwale said.
“The moment we give out the forms, we are able to get them within a month or so we are able to get them back because we are not the only clinic that is submitting these application forms, there are other centres that are also doing the same applications. So the moment the mothers come back to bring the newly born babies for BCG, that is the time when they are given the forms because that is the time when they could have given the name to the child. Previously what we wanted was to start from the labour ward but because as the child leaves the labour ward, there is no name to the child. So the moment that they go back home, that is the moment they are given the name.”
Meanwhile Anita Siameja a mother of two and also a resident of Kabwe’s Mine area said she was elated that she managed to acquire birth certificates for her children.
“When we were sensitised as mothers on the importance of the child having a birth certificate, the challenge that I had was that it took time for it to come out and I had even forgotten about it until when we were called that they are now out. I have two children and I am privileged that there birth certificates came out. It took about a year for them to come out. So this document is very important for a Zambian child because wherever you go, you have your nationality,” said Siameja.
Meanwhile Media Network on Child Rights and Development executive director Henry Kabwe said it was sad that some people in Zambia had given more importance to registering with a political party than owning a birth certificate which he said was every person’s right.
“The child rights framework within the country is not well respected because of lack of birth registration. A lot of services have not been done in various sectors of our societies. Health centres are built without considering the population in the country. So there is need for birth registration so that as we build health services, we know how many people certain services are going to carter for. Even in terms of education, there are so many children that are having challenges in terms of access to education and it is actually a major concern because government introduced early childhood education which is a very important aspect in our society. And this takes us to the issue of birth registration as a right because if it is considered as a right, then we are going to have children registered as citizens of the country,” said Kabwe.