National ID stirs debate

National ID stirs debate

Members of Parliament (MPs) have proposed an amendment of Section 4 (12) of the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Act which provides national identity cards (IDs) as the sole form of identification for voter registration.

The MPs have cited irregularities and inefficiencies in the national ID registration by the National Registration Bureau (NRB) which they said has left many Malawians frustrated despite efforts to acquire the ID.

The legislators’ concerns followed a presentation by Parliamentary Committee on Government Assurances and Public Sector Reforms chairperson Noel Lipipa highlighting a number of challenges resulting from Malawi Electoral Commission reforms, especially on the National ID registration campaign in the Southern Region.

A voter casts her vote in a previous election

In the report, he said that while the government claimed that the NRB was printing about 1 000 IDs a day, only 100 IDs were being processed.

NRB Principal Secretary Mphatso Sambo, in an interview yesterday, acknowledged the technical glitches, particularly on the printing machine.

However, he said the NRB has made tremendous progress in rectifying the challenges.

Sambo said the bureau is already in the process of hiring additional staff and procuring a new printing machine with capacity to print about 15 000 IDs a day.

He also dismissed claims that some people are paying up to K30 000 for an express ID, saying “there are no express IDs at NRB. People should be cautious to avoid being duped”.

Contributing to the debate on the inefficiencies and irregularities in the ID registration process in Parliament on Wednesday, Mangochi South MP Lillian Patel said many people in her constituency failed to register for the ID as the process was marred by faulty equipment and a shortage of staff.

Democratic Progressive Party spokesperson on the issue Shadric Namalomba, in an interview on the same day, said the use of national IDs as the only legitimate form of identification for voter registration should be scrapped.

He argued that voting is a constitutional right which should not be denied because one does not have a National ID.

“There are reports that over 100 people failed to register for a by-election in Karonga. This is worrying. It’s a matter of urgency and every member in the House including the Speaker must commit to this,” he said.

MEC and NRB in July signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to create a framework of cooperation between the two institutions ahead of the 2025 Tripartite Elections.

The MoU seeks to ensure that both institutions mutually cooperate in the fulfilment of their respective mandates in implementing the operational aspects of the voters’ registration and their identification on polling day, among others.

MEC chairperson Chifundo Kachale said they were planning ahead to ensure that as they launch the voters register in September 2024, all the people in targeted areas have the relevant registration documentation to register as voters.

The post National ID stirs debate first appeared on The Nation Online.

The post National ID stirs debate appeared first on The Nation Online.