National Registration Bureau (NRB) says shortage of staff and intermittent break down of identity cards (IDs) printers have affected renewal processes and registration of new ones.
In an interview yesterday, NRB spokesperson Norman Fulatila said despite recruiting temporary employees to beef-up staff, service delivery points remain far apart.
“Although we engaged 200 interns, we are unable to reach all areas and cover all the people. On top of that, printing has been our biggest challenge and most of our printers broke down,” he said.
The challenges came at a time the bureau was expected to renew about three million national IDs which expired last year.
Fulatila said out of that number the bureau managed to renew about 500 000 ID cards.
“About 867 000 ID cards are expected to expire in 2022. However we are carrying a backlog of the same from 2021. We have a mammoth task,” he said.
Asked what the bureau is doing to address the challenges, Fulatila said NRB is planning to procure a high-volume printer in the 2022/23 fiscal year and recruitment of additional permanent officers.
In a separate interview, Consumers Association of Malawi executive director John Kapito expressed shock that government is still struggling to address the challenges.
He questioned government why it is taking long to invest in NRB to improve service delivery.
Kapito said: “People are waiting for months without getting their IDs just because of ink or either a printer is broken down. Are we serious we can fail to buy a cartridge of ink or a good printer?”
In May last year, NRB extended ID card registration and renewal processes to all the 460 council wards in the country to decongest its district offices.