Deeds registration to go digital
THE Government will soon digitalise the registration of deeds through the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill to remove sections which are deemed to be hindering the ease of doing business at the Deeds Office.
The Deeds Registries Bill, which will amend the Deeds Registries Act (Chapter 20:05), is expected to transform the current paper-based court processes by migrating to computer-based technology.
According to the Parliament of Zimbabwe Bill status report, the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill was gazetted on August 12, 2016, and remained open for public scrutiny until the end of September.
The Bill is awaiting consideration by the Parliamentary Legal Committee before going back to the National Assembly for the second reading.
Amendments to clause 3 and 4 of the Bill read: “The amendments sought by these clauses (3 and 4) will permit the digitalisation of the deeds registry and the eventual establishment of an electronic deeds registry, which will supplement the paper-based one, thereby greatly expediting and facilitating deeds registry administration.
“Access to the electronic registry for the purpose of informationgathering and conveyancing work or notarial practice will be subject to certain safeguards against fraud, violations of privacy and other abuses.
The electronic registry shall become operational when the Minister of Justice, Parliamentary and Legal Affairs in consultation with the Registrar set a date and specify by notice in a Statutory Instrument. According to the Bill, the Registrar will establish and maintain a computer system for the purpose of applying information technology to any process or procedure under this Act.
“The system includes the dispatch and receipt and processing of any deed, return, record, assessment, declaration, form, notice, statement or other document for the purposes of this Act.
“The use of the electronic registry shall be restricted to registered users only. Such use shall not interrupt or prejudice the continued use of the paper-based deeds registry by users who are not registered,” reads part of the Bill.
One of the areas identified as hindering business is the storage of records in paper format.
If the amendments sail through, the Act will allow for electronic access to information and digital storage of records.By amending the section, Government is creating a platform for members of the public to have easy access to the deeds database electronically.
Currently the Deeds Office has only two offices in Harare and Bulawayo and this is not convenient for the public.Again, people outside the country cannot access the database.
The amendment of the Act comes after a study by the World Bank on doing business in Zimbabwe showed that it takes about five procedures and 36 days to register property.