By Martin Muleya
Joyce Chirau (21) gave birth to a bouncing baby boy last year in July during lockdown of the Covid 19 pandemic. All she has now is a healthy card she was issued at Dangamvura Polyclinic.
This year when Government of Zimbabwe relaxed some of the lockdown measures she felt delighted as she wanted to acquire a birth certificate for her child.
But her joy was short-lived, when she went to the Mutare district Registrar General’s office to acquire a birth certificate only to be told that they had already taken the number of people they serve per day.
Feeling disappointed she turns back and hurriedly walked to Mudzviti bus terminus to board bus to Dangamvura high density suburb. The queue is very long and almost meandering on all the bus shelters but she patiently waits for her turn to board bus and finally she did and gladly paid her $30bond.
But her struggle is yet from being over, she wakes up early the next day and by 0630hrs she was at the Registrar’s offices and was given card numbered 47 all the 46 ahead of her either slept or were at the offices as early as 4am.
For a moment Joyce is feeling relieved and anticipates that when the offices are open by 0800hrs people will be served quickly such that by mid day she will be home.
But alas, this was not to be.
Her baby Takunda who was fast asleep by the time she was on the queue is now awake and is tired from being strapped at the back with a towel. Her mother is still standing still in the queue and already it is mid morning and only less than 20people have been served out of the 60 people the officials purport to serve each day.
“I came here early in the morning but we are almost past mid morning only 20 people have been served with birth certificates.
“I was given a card numbered 47 and i will patiently wait for my turn. Right now it is 10am and they have taken a break but I can’t rush to town to grab something to eat and come back, I fear to be skipped, said Joyce despair written all over her face.
Takudzwa Chamutsanga a form four student at St. Dominic’s high school is clad in his uniform and is also queuing to get a national identity card for the first time.
“I came here today and I was told to book appointment and will have to come after two weeks. I wanted to follow that procedure but then I met my uncle a uniformed officer at the Zimbabwe Republic Police, whom I told my ordeal.
My uncle had to use his influence as a law enforcement agent and that is how I frog jumped the queue,” said Chamutsanga excitedly.
He said everybody including school children were required to also book appointment irregardless that you are putting on your school uniform.
“Right now am waiting to have my fingerprints taken, a process of acquiring a national identy card.
What is worrying though is we have been waiting for the person who is supposed to be taking us fingerprints but the person has not showed up and it is already mid morning.
Probably I will not be able to go back to school today to resume lessons if I am not served earlier,” he added.
Across Robert Mugabe road, at the passport office there is a deafening silence that greets a person when you arrive at the premises. The personnel occupying the wooden shaped passport offices all look decidedly busy with their errands. A small queue numbering 10 people is seen squating by the Provincial Registrar’s office.
For Chemutsanga who is an O’level student frogjumping the queue to get the national identity card through nepotism was his biggest achievement as he spent minimal time at the registry office.
He believes his ‘connection’ has made life easy for him as he will not be incurring the hustle of waiting long hours just to obtain a plastic identity card which is his Constitutional right.
For Joyce Chirau she loathes not being connected and with no money to grease the officials to get favors and thus resort to enduring the pain of waiting for long hours while singing lullaby to her six- month old Takunda.
Manicaland Provincial Registrar Josephine Munamati said the snail’s pace characterising her offices is because they were working on between 40 to 60 percent capacity.
“We are on 40 percent capacity of our staff personnel. This was a decree from our employer Public Service Commission (PSC) especially with regards to try and contain the Covid 19 virus in Government offices.
Currently here at the passport offices we are only issuing US$318 passports,” defended Munamati.