LUHONONO - Residents of Luhonono in Kabbe North Constituency are unhappy that their children who had to be born in Zambia because Luhonono does not have a maternity ward are being denied birth certificates by officials at the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration.
Luhonono villagers usually cross the river between their settlement and Zambia to access basic health services in Mwandi in Zambia where they also often buy groceries and other basics.
Speaking to New Era, the chairperson of the Village Development Committee (VDC) of Luhonono Fabian Nasilele stated when officials from the home affairs ministry visited the area two weeks ago to issue birth certificates, children born of Namibian parents but were delivered at Mwandi Hospital in Zambia, and can be identified by a Zambian birth mark injection were denied birth certificates.
Nasilele explained residents of Luhonono and nearby villages find it easy for them to cross to neighbouring Zambia to deliver their babies because it is cheap as it cuts among others on transport costs, compared to having to travel to the regional hospital in Katima Mulilo which is faraway.
“We don’t understand why they denied our children birth certificates, they told us that we must take them back to Zambia for them to be repatriated back to Namibia,” said Nasilele.
However contacted for comment, the spokesperson of home affairs ministry Salome Kambala, explained children born outside the country to Namibian parents are eligible to get citizenship, but that there are a raft of stipulated procedures to be followed.
“For instance if a child is born in Namibia to parents from Botswana, we will issue them a birth notification certificate. So if those children were born in Zambia they have to present birth records from Zambia, because we cannot just write that the place of birth is Zambia without any birth records,” she explained.
Kambala also said home affairs and immigration ministry faces serious challenges in the northern regions of the country, as people have relatives in neighbouring countries and when they decide to go and deliver there, it is always a great challenge to register their children. The councillor of Kabbe North Peter Mwala admitted he is aware of the situation and that he even has a list of more than 10 children who were delivered in Zambia. Mwala also sided with the residents that delivering in Zambia is cost cutting. He also revealed that children were not issued birth certificates because they were not in possession of birth notification certificates from Zambia.
He said he has taken up the issue and he will work hand in hand with the home affairs ministry to resolve the situation amicably. Mwala also stated the community had proposed that a shelter for expecting mothers be constructed at Luhonono, which he says will reduce the cases of babies been delivered in neighbouring Zambia.
“The community has already availed land for the construction of the waiting shelter, but we are still waiting from the ministry of health,” he said. Efforts to get comment from the health director in Zambezi Region Agnes Mwilima proved futile, as her mobile phone went unanswered and she did not respond to questions sent to her mobile phone.