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Government abolishes the “00” code on National IDs

GOVERNMENT has abolished the “00” code on national identity documents under the district of origin, with the Civil Registry Department now in the process of re-coding those national IDs.

This Thursday Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe presented a ministerial statement in parliament on policy changes and the re-cording exercise of persons whose national identity documents bear the “00” code under the district of origin.

The code identified persons of mixed race, Asians, and Caucasians during the colonial era.

Following government’s decision to abolish the code, the Civil Registry Department will re-cord the national IDs, a move set to ensure citizens enjoy their constitutionally guaranteed rights without colonially defined and derogatory policies.

“The Civil Registry Department which is mandated to provide secure identity documents will be re-coding National Identity Documents bearing the “00” last digits which depict the holder’s district of origin,” said Kazembe.

“This marks an important milestone in the history of Zimbabwe in our commitment to eradicate all forms of discrimination as typified by the code “00” which identified persons of mixed race, Asians and Caucasians during the colonial era. The “00” code differentiated citizens on the basis of race, colour and creed.  

“The system further segmented access to the mainstream economy and other social strata on racial ground and gave better opportunities to persons whose IDs bore the “00” code.”

Kazembe added: “Although the system did not have a legal basis, it had remained in use until now, prompting some of the affected citizens to petition Parliament.  The divisive system of rational profiling was at the detriment of segments of society who found it to be hindering their quest to participate fully in mainstream economic activities.”

The policy shift conforms with provisions in the constitution which relate to citizenship, equality and non-discrimination.

Section 35(2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that all Zimbabwean citizens are equally entitled to the rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship, he added.

Citizens who require to have their IDs re-encoded have been advised to approach their nearest civil registry offices with the following documents: 1.) Original and copy of birth certificate and; 2.) Original and copy of ID.

Kazembe said this programme which is not time bound will be running concurrently with the Civil Registry Department’s normal work processes, an arrangement that affords affected citizens ample time to have the anomaly redressed.

UK-based constitutional lawyer Alex Magaisa explained that the codes on national IDs could easily be used to discriminate on the basis of someone’s district of origin.

“Unbeknown to some, the National ID contains coded information which denotes your places of origin & registration. The legislation prescribes codes for different areas. For Harare it’s 63; Bulawayo 08; Mberengwa 03; Chikomba 18; Wedza 80, etc.

“The ID number contains these codes – where you were registered and where you come from within Zimbabwe. Coded data looks harmless but it’s a technology of controlling the population in a very subtle way. It’s very easy to discriminate on the basis of the coded ID number,” said the Kent Law School academic.

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