Malawians assured to have national IDs in 2013

The National Registration Bureau (NRB), the Malawi government’s organ tasked to oversee the process of issuing national identity documents (IDs) is assuring Malawians that they will have their national IDs by the end of 2013.

NRB’s Director Peter Chitedze was responding to the concerns from Malawians who are raising eyebrow over what they call snail’s pace which the process is taking.

He told a local radio, Radio Islam that the process is taking time to reach completion because phase two of the national registration system will require substantial amount of money.

“And also will require that the government should identify a contractor which would come and set up the systems that would start issuing out the identification documents”.

He however said he is hopeful that the bureau will issue first birth certificate and identification card in the coming year.

“I would like to assure Malawians that there are so many factors that come into play in government programs and projects. But all things being equal, I believe that 2013 will not end before Malawians start being issues with birth certificates and national identity cards”, he said.

Malawi hasn’t had national identification documents for its citizens. Instead people have been using voter registration certificates, passport and driving license a development which Chitedze said is legally incorrect.

“A passport is a travel document. Driver’s license is a document to allow somebody permission to drive a vehicle on the road. A voter certificate is for an eligible voter in line with elections ACT and it’s for people who are 18 years and above. So legally these are not identification documents,” he said.

The exercise has faced some problems to roll out.  In 2000, the High Court ordered government to halt plans to engage Secucom Holdings International of Switzerland in a controversial 26-million-US-dollar national identity card contract.

The Swiss company sued Malawi’s corruption-busting body – the Anti-Corruption Bureau – after the bureau had instituted a corruption probe into how the tender was awarded.

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