Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda says the National Registration Bureau has quarantined “bad data” that was captured during the recent fresh presidential election for a cleaning exercise.
The development comes against the backdrop of concerns on the registration of minors who were earmarked by certain politicians to participate in the June 23 fresh presidential election.
However, the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal ruled in the presidential court case that only people that had registered for the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections were eligible to vote in the presidential re-run.
Speaking during the commemoration of this year’s Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day in Lilongwe yesterday, Banda said experts are working to clean up the data to ensure it matches the real situation on the ground.
He said: “The good news is that we quarantined all the data that we took during election time due to public concerns. Currently, the quarantined data is being cleaned by our experts in the registration department to ensure that doubtful data is removed.”
The minister added that talks are underway with the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 to gazette the national registration exercise so that the ministry does not miss out on recording births, deaths and marriages due to Covid-19 restrictions.
On his part, National Statistical Office (NSO) spokesperson Kingsley Manda said NRB data plays a vital role in the national population census which is used in decision-making.
He said: “The data is collected on a continuous basis while the Population and Housing Census complements what is captured by NRB. In simple terms, NRB data is real time data.”
ICT Association of Malawi president Bram Fudzulani in an interview said civil registration and vital statistics helped in identifying groups of people and targeting them with desired services, among other benefits.
He said: “During the political campaign there was huge demand on the need to clean the national registration data to ensure we have a true reflection of what is on the ground.
“This will help the government to plan resources accordingly in terms of age or gender, among others. The ministry needs to work on ensuring that the available data from various institutions is used to identify people.”
For instance, he said the NRB has been faulting the absence of a Data Protection Act, adding it is the reason why there is no data sharing for customers with accounts in different banks during the Know Your Customer exercise.
The Africa Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day was set aside by the African Union in 2018 and it falls on August 10. This year’s theme was Civil Registration and Vital Statistics: An Essential Service for Monitoring and Mitigating the Impact of Emergencies.