Civil registration a human right, says Minister

Friday, December 2, 2016

Pretoria – Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba says policies and legislation have been developed to continue to ensure an efficient civil registration.

“In South Africa, the right to a name, identity, citizenship and to be registered at birth is a universal human right and is guaranteed in section 28 of the Constitution,” he said.

Speaking at the signing of the partnership agreement between the Department of Home Affairs and Procter & Gamble at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Minister Gigaba said it is encouraging that the South African government, through the Department of Home Affairs, has prioritised civil registration.

“In developed countries, civil registration is something that has been entrenched and practiced routinely,” he said.

According to the Births and Deaths Registration Act, any South African citizen or foreign visiting parents must give notice of the birth of their child within 30 days.

Minister Gigaba said where birth occurs at a health facility, a birth certificate is issued before the mother is discharged, thus confirming the child’s citizenship.

Many Africans are born, proceed to live their lives and eventually pass on without their existence and citizenship status ever being acknowledged and recorded through a birth record and accompanying certificate of birth.

“To this end, birth registration is a crucial element in a person’s life as it provides visible evidence of a state’s legal recognition of his or her existence as a member of that particular society.

“The only way definitely to establish the identity of a person is to record their birth, and certify their identity as defined by the mother and father of each new human being,” he said.

Minister Gigaba said for a person to fully access and exercise their rights, they must first be recognised as a citizen.

He said the department’s partnership with the Department of Health has ensured an increased footprint at hospitals and that they will be establishing more offices at these facilities to reach more people.

“Through this collaboration, parents can apply for birth certificates immediately after birth and receive them on the spot. The registration of birth within 30 days will help us to deal with the scourge of late registration of birth process,” he said.

The Minister said international experience has demonstrated that early and efficient birth registration carries less risks of fraud and contributes towards national and personal security.

“We are continuing with concerted efforts to clean the NPR [National Population Register] and a new National Identity System that will be more reliable, credible and integrated to help navigate easily and smoothly between South African citizens and foreign nationals,” Minister Gigaba said.

The private sector plays an important role in government’s endeavours to change the lives of people for the better.

“We look forward to making more strides in our efforts to achieve universal birth registration a reality in our country,” he said. –