Kamlepo asks if refusal to register SIM card will lead to arrest: Dausi dismisses ‘mere fallacies’

Outspoken Rumphi East member of Parliament (MP) Kamlepo Kalua (People’s Party-PP) stood up in Parliament to raise the issue of the mandatory SIM card registration exercise, asking Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi if he could be arrested for refusing to register his SIM card.

Kamlepo Kalua: Asked the minister to come out clear

The mandatory SIM card registration is provided for under Section 92 of the Communications Act which Parliament passed in 2016.

But Kalua asked: “Section 5 of the constitution provides that any law or laws that are inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution, to the extent of such inconsistency, that law or laws are invalid. Now, if I do not want to register what will happen? If I quote that section of the Constitution, would you arrest me?”

Kalua also retaliated that that government has rolled out a “spy machine” and  that SIM card registration is a ploy by government to listen into people’s private telephone conversations, check SMS and monitor internet activity in real time  using the ‘spy machine’  at Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra).

He asked the minister to “come out clear” on the spying fears.

“Can you come out clean that this is not another way of spying on innocent Malawians? I would like the Minister of Information and Communication Technology to come out clean on that because this is against the spirit of the constitution of our republic,” said Kalua.

The minister said the government is within the confines of the constitution as Parliament passed the law on SIM cards registration.

“Government is not going to do anything that will be ultra vires or above what the constitution says,” Dausi said.

He added: “I am not a lawyer, I am just a lay person, but I know because I heard the judgement from the Supreme Court that gave a right to MACRA with the service providers to do the registration and that is why I have the strength to drive on to say that it will not infringe personal privacy.”

Dausi said “coming out clearly” there is no ‘spy’ machine “but it is a speculation, an allegation, or an opinion. Nevertheless, since it is a democracy we accept even though opinions can be mere fallacies.”

Kasungu South East MP Khumbidze Chiponda (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) also asked the ministers that opposition members were arrested for treason based on a WhatsApp message and wanted to find out if the registration of SIM cards will not lead to trumped up charges “especially this time when we are nearing the 2019 general elections.”

Chiponda also wanted to know if the registration can be done online.

As regards to online registration, Dausi said it is a “good suggestion” which he will “explore and discuss with the network service providers on how best, whether it is possible to register online”, promising to update the House on that.

However, Kalua stood again on a point of order, asking the minister to answer whether he can be arrested if he refuses to register his SIM card.

Dausi responded: “We are a constitutional democracy and we are a country that thrives on rule of law; you do not just arrest somebody. However, it is a requirement and that if you do not register then your number will be rendered unusable at the end of the day, you not are able to access the network. Therefore, you better register.”

The minister further persuaded Kalua  to go to his constituency in Mlowe, Chiweta and “Kulakula mukawaphalire wanthu [tell the people]” on the importance of registering the SIM cards.

Meanwhile, Dausi announced that  the registration exercise has been suspended following a public outcry that the time frame was too short and that the public had not been well-informed on why it was necessary to register their SIM cards.

Dausi told the House that government has listened to people’s concerns regarding the SIM registration exercise, adding there are several factors to be addressed such as civic education, privacy and mobility of customers.

“ MPs expressed concern that there is need for further sensitisation and consideration on the period on how people will manage to register. Listening to the concerns, I would like to announce that we have suspended the Sim card registration process, until necessary remedial measures are taken,” he said.

Both TNM and Airtel, the leading mobile phone network providers in the country, say they are yet to be informed officially of the suspension.

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john bwanyama
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john bwanyama

If half of malawians do register will that not going to affect the business of tnm and airtel because they will loose alot of revenue. The other thing you need to consider is ID. Most malawians who use cellphones do not have valid IDS. Wina wa nene kale za anthu akumuzi monga kwathu ku Usisya, Ruarwe, Khondowe and salawe for one to travel to and from Nkhata BAY BOMA needs K10000.00. It is really good for the service provider to go there and register the so called sim card and also think of how to assist those who have ID.… Read more »

George nyirenda
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George nyirenda

Matter of fact is that this is a stupid exercise that has no value to our lives. People’s live won’t improve coz of sim registration. This is total rubbish. Whosoever passed that law is useles. Shithole members of parliament. I live in Europe where u buy sim without ID. Whats so special with Malawi? We indeed shithole people with backward reasoning.

concerned citizen
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concerned citizen

Tisakhale otsalira mbuyo. In many countries it is being done and is a requirement. It will actually bring some sanity in people who like to abuse the technology and hide their identity.

Nabanda
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Nabanda

It is easy to alleviate the fears citizens have vis a vis government’s motivation regarding the timing of implementation of this law. All that has to happen is for parliament to pass a law that requires that for government to spy on a citizen, they need to get a warrant consented by a high court judge, and that in order to do so they should show probable cause. Something akin to the American FISA Act. Many countries have this law and it’s a great check on government’s arbitrary spying on its citizens.

MALAWI
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MALAWI

666 yafika pa malawi if u do not register ur out off line damn

Masauko
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Masauko

TNM & AIRTEL should deploy their staff for this exercise to various places across the country otherwise the consumers will face problems as some live in very remote areas hence incurring high transport fares to register. Mukanafunsa kaye maganizo amenewa matchona inu, simukudziwa umphawi uli mmidzimu. Pitani kwa Goliati, kwa Chonde, ku Pirimiti, ku Mwanza/Neno mukadzionele nokha.

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