The European Union (EU) has said the national identification (ID) programme is key to reducing irregularities during elections.
EU head of delegation to Malawi Marchel Gerrmann said this yesterday in Lilongwe during a news conference marking the end of a tour the mission organised for its non-resident ambassadors and charge d’affaires.
The tour was aimed at giving the visiting ambassadors a first-hand view of Malawi’s current political and economic situation.
The visiting diplomats included Pier Mario Dacco of Italy, Finland’s Timo Olhonnen, Koenraad Adam from Belgium; Ximena Sartori and Maarten Rusch, charges d’affaires for Spain and Holland, respectively.
Said Gerrmann: “We commend government for advancing public sector reforms. Actually, reforms are crucial in putting Malawi back on track in terms of socio-economic development. But we are particularly interested in electoral reforms and key to that is the issue of national IDs which we have always been willing to support because we understand the importance of having credible elections. This explains why the EU has been sending observer missions during the past elections.”
Gerrmann said EU is also pleased with the role civil society has played over the years in shaping the governance agenda in the country addding the civil society is vibrant in the country and there seems to be good cooperation with authorities.
He said: “We know it is a process, but they are doing their best. For example, the National Initiative for Civic Education [Nice] Trust did have some interventions that helped reduce the number of null-and-void votes to less than five per cent in the past election. This is commendable.”
Gerrmann’s sentiments come at a time when government is yet to roll out the national ID programme; almost a decade since the project was initiated.
The National Registration Bureau (NRB) said the EU provided a consultant to do a needs assessment for the programme in the country.
A bill on the same was also passed in Parliament about five years ago.
But speaking in an interview yesterday, NRB spokesperson Norman Fulatira hinted that the programme may finally roll back into action soon.
Said Fulatira: “There are always going to be challenges in implementing any meaningful project, but the key remains a strong commitment from government. I am glad to say that government has this time showed commitment and wheels are now rolling again. It is included within the Public Service Reforms.” n