Zambians urged to obtain birth certificates

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The Department of National Registration, Passport and Citizenship has bemoaned the low turn-up of citizen registration among Zambians born in the country.

Department Principle Registrar Martin Nyihoda told ZANIS in an interview in Lusaka today that most people in Zambia have not taken citizenship registration seriously.

Mr. Nyihoda said by law, every child born in Zambia should be registered and certified with the department of National Registration, Passport and Citizenship.

He explained that it was sad that most parents overlook the issue of birth record certification making it difficult for their children to access national legal documents and privileges in future.

He said parents should ensure that they get birth certificates for their children for purposes of clear identification as Zambian nationals and help government plan for their needs.

Mr. Nyihoda observed that registration of child births among vulnerable groups in society has been poor and attributed this to lack of information on its significance.

The Principle Registrar further said the department was however in the process of repossessing the receipt and certification issuance from the local authority.

Mr. Nyihoda explained that currently, the councils are charging about 25 Kwacha Rebased, an amount he described as exorbitant for the majority poor Zambians.

He said the fees that people have to pay to access the birth certificates disadvantage vulnerable groups in society from citizen registration.

Mr. Nyihoda said recently the National Registration, Passport and Citizenship entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Health to enable the department take over the issuance of birth certificates across the country.

He said the department has expressed interest in decentralising it as opposed to the current situation where all certificates have to be sent to Lusaka to be signed by the registrar general.

Mr. Nyihoda said the department wants to see a situation where birth certificates are given right at the health institution to avoid the delays and also for statistical purposes.

He observed that decentralising the department will help government obtain statistics in time and thereafter plan accordingly.

Mr. Nyihoda however noted that much still needed to be done as a country for people to know and appreciate the importance of child birth certification.

He disclosed that the department has started sensitization campaigns in conjunction with the ministry of health to educate communities about the importance of child birth certification.

Mr. Nyihoda said the poor culture towards child birth certification in the country is hampering government to account and plan for the total population growth of people living in a particular locality