Cletus Mushanawani Mutare Bureau
THE ongoing registration exercise for Johane Marange Apostolic Church members is a constitutional mandate and has nothing to do with the forthcoming harmonised elections, Registrar-General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede has said.
The Registrar-General spoke in the wake of claims from MDC-T that the registration exercise was an elaborate plot by Zanu-PF to rig the elections.
In an interview on the sidelines of the Johane Marange Apostolic Church Passover at Mafararikwa Shrine in Marange yesterday, Mr Mudede said this exercise has been ongoing since 2010 and has nothing to do with the 2018 harmonised elections.
From last Tuesday when the programme started, 1 174 birth certificates, 937 national identity cards and eight death certificates were issued.
Although the programme will end today, long queues were the order of the day as church members and the local community were trying to register.
“The programme was rolled out in 2010 after a number of meetings with the elders of the Johane Marange Church. This has been going on and we come here during the Passover time when many people were gathered.
“We realised that the apostolic church members were far behind in registering their children and they needed our help.
“Since 2010 we have registered quite a large number. In 2010 alone, 1 889 people were issued with synthetic and polythene national identity cards. After this exercise a follow-up is done at district level,” he said.
Mr Mudede added: “The Johane Marange Apostolic Church draws its pilgrims from across the country, so a lot of people will benefit from the registration exercise.”
Mr Mudede said no-one raised dust when the same programme was rolled out in Kenya in 2005.
“In 2005 we invited by members of the Johane Masowe Apostolic Church to register their members. There was a very large turn-out there. Some people came from Tanzania and Sudan for the exercise. We had to extend the registration exercise because of the large numbers of Zimbabweans who were requiring our services there,” he said.
“It is my constitutional mandate to register Zimbabweans. In actual fact, I am happy that people are realising that I am discharging my constitutional mandate by rolling out these registration exercises.”
Responding to allegations by the opposition parties that the registration exercise was meant to help Zanu-PF rig elections, Mr Mudede, said: “Those saying that have their own agenda. If I say they are lying, it will be very stupid. In Shona we say ndomanomano.
“Their utterances are not only malicious, but defamatory. They are talking of things they do not have any knowledge about. They are tarnishing my image because they are giving the world wrong information.
“So they are also saying I am working with men of God here to rig elections? This is a shame. God has an answer to this and I leave everything in His hands.
“Those saying a lot on rigging of elections just want to use Mudede as the scapegoat for their shortcomings.”
Mr Mudede said he should be credited for coming up with a system that has no room for rigging.
“When elections were held during my time when I was in charge, the opposition won so many seats in Parliament, but they did not say anything. They have their own problems and should not drag Mudede into their mess.
“My silence is not stupidity. I don’t want to mention names, but some of the people who are so vocal come to me and commend me for a good job. They know that saying so publicly is suicidal to them.
“I will not be deterred from helping people to be registered as Zimbabweans,” he said.
In another interview, a spokesperson for Johane Marange Apostolic Church, who only identified himself as Mr Shumba, said they were the ones who approached the Registrar-General’s Office to take advantage of the large gathering at Mafararikwa so that their members have proper registration particulars.
“This has nothing to do with elections. Our members have many children and they can take advantage of these gatherings to have them registered. Some of them will be too busy when they are at home and can only find time to register their children during ,on the sidelines of the Passover gathering.
“We want every child in our church to have proper documents. In fact, we should thank the Registrar-General’s Office for this exercise which is noble and convenient to our members.
“People should leave our church out of their politics. We are Zimbabweans who enjoy the same status as other churches. Why is it when it comes to our church a lot of noise is made? Our children need to enjoy the same rights like any other child in Zimbabwe,” he said.