Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee says it is not satisfied with how the National Registration Bureau (NRB) is carrying out its duties to secure national identity cards (IDs).
Committee chairperson Kezzie Msukwa said this in an interview after the committee met NRB chief director Mackford Somanje and NRB officials on their state of preparedness for the July 2 2020 fresh presidential elections.
He said there is need to tighten security as the cards are sometimes given to the wrong people.
However, the NRB chief said the national ID is a secure document and that the bureau ensures only Malawians and those that are eligible are given the cards.
But Msukwa said the committee was not convinced with the explanations that NRB officials gave on how they are conducting the elections registration exercise and also their case handling of reports of national IDs grabbing.
He said: “As a committee, we are not very satisfied. I felt that the chief director was not prepared, he was fumbling. Maybe because he is new on the job, but he needed to do a thorough research and work to convince us that he will do a good job.
“From his presentation you can see that our national ID is not that secured. We can do better as a country, you can see foreigners having the IDs. He needs to learn more to do a better job and implement a project that is important.”
Msukwa has since said the committee will give him and the bureau the benefit of the doubt to change things and also consider working to serve Malawians and put aside their political affiliations.
Among other things, the committee members raised concerns on reports of the registration of minors, foreigners and claims that people were collecting national IDs with the intention of deleting names from the system to tamper with the forthcoming fresh election.
During his presentation to the committee, Somanje said NRB is open to any complaints from the public and that they will investigate any case.
He said the bureau has not given any IDs to foreigners or refugees.
Said Somanje: “Claims that some people are collecting national IDs and probably deleting them in the system are not true; there is no proxy in national ID registration as well as collection. NRB has not authorised anybody to collect national IDs from any Malawian citizens, if found, the general public is strongly being advised to report to police or any nearest NRB office.”
Commenting on fears that he is at the bureau to fulfil political desires of some party, said, as a public servant, people should be assured that he would discharge his duties professionally.
As a matter of preparation for the fresh elections, Somanje said continuous registration is underway in all district council offices and also in about 35 post offices nationwide, discussions are underway with Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to work together in the voter registration exercise for the fresh elections.
“Due to inadequate equipment allocated to MEC, plans are underway to conduct mobile registration exercise in all districts to assist those that might need to travel long distances to register, the exercise will commence once finances and logistical issues are finalised,” he said.