Leonard Ncube Bulawayo Bureau—
AFRICAN governments must come up with budgets to finance civil registration amid concerns that the continent is under siege from Western countries that use donor agencies to negatively portray the continent, the Registrar-General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede has said. Mr Mudede was speaking on Tuesday at a meeting of the taskforce on the establishment of a committee of African Registrar-Generals (RGs), which is underway in Victoria Falls.
The meeting, which started on Monday and ends on Friday, is the first ever gathering for RGs from the continent as they strategise on the formation of a committee that will give expertise and guidance for Africa to control its own affairs. Member states are concerned about portrayal of the continent as impoverished. Addressing the meeting, Mr Mudede said electoral systems and statistical data depend on civil registration and vital statistics, which entails all registrations ranging from birth certificates, national identity cards, to death and marriage certificates.
“We are taking into account resolutions made in 2010 in Addis Ababa, which have yielded very little results. It’s worrying that Africa has resources but is failing to come up with a budget for civil registration. I hope the organisation we are going to form here will consider this,” he said.
In an interview after the session, Mr Mudede said: “The intention here is to form a formidable force that will work together and make recommendations for Africa to counter distorted Western information that is aimed at discrediting and portraying the continent as poor and backward.
“We want Africa to solve its own problems in its own eyes. We know of some NGOs that are sending pictures of impoverished people purporting our people are poor knowing pretty well that this is not true.” He said the RG’s Office was better placed to talk about the country’s demographics than Western donors “who lie about us”. Mr Mudede said some donors were raising funds for themselves by spreading falsehoods about the country.
“African governments must own and control civil registration system hence the need for them to come up with budgets that will drive this vehicle and avoid NGOs. Countries can contribute through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and move away from being financed by outside donors,” he said. The RG said he was also concerned about some sections of the society that were trying to discount the national identity cards as not part of civil registration.
“The document is tight and difficult to forge, hence it’s part of the whole process of vital registration in Zimbabwe, which is why we are carrying out a three-month registration programme countrywide.” Speaking at the same meeting, Victoria Falls Mayor Councillor Sifiso Mpofu, who was the guest of honour, said civil registration is key to national development as it sets the tone to every activity in the country.
A director at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Mr Oliver Chinganya, who chaired the meeting, said proposals that delegates will come up with will be presented to the council of Ministers for consideration. He said Africa stands to benefit from the formation of an RGs’ committee. Some of the countries being represented are Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.