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Government faulted over sim registration

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Different commentators in the country have lashed out at the government for being indecisive on national issues, saying the suspension of sim card registration just shows that it lacks seriousness.

Section 92 of the Communications Act (2016) obliges every user of a sim card for voice telephony services to register it with a service provider.

Chairperson of the Civil Society Task Force on Sim card Registration, Undule Mwakasungura, said the government should have continued with the exercise while working on civic education and other concerns.

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“Much as the government has suspended the sim card registration, what we need now is to embark on intensive civic education campaign to motivate Malawians to register but also to assure them that the registration has nothing to do with politics,” Mwakasungura said.

He said Malawians must know that Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority is just carrying out its legal obligation as per the New Communications Act to follow international trends.

Social and political commentator, Humphrey Mvula, Tuesday said the tendency by the government to rescind decisions signifies lack of proper consultations within the government machinery.

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“As a country, we have serious policy contradictions. They like taking people by surprise.They just wake up one day and roll out a process, threaten Malawians if they do not comply and when people complain about it, they reverse their decision.

“This gives the impression that whatever the government would like to do, it is never thought of properly and the consultations within the government machinery are not done,” he said.

Political analyst Ernest Thindwa said the country has a challenge of lack of proper planning, a development that has forced leaders to be reactive than proactive.

“Any decision that is reversed is costly in all aspects. The decision is an indication of lack of planning. For us as a country, we needed to have a vision for us to be proactive, and put in place a long-term vision so that we have things that we can focus on,” he said

Information Minister, Nicholas Dausi, yesterday told Parliament that the suspension is due to concerns raised over how the process was being conducted.

Members of Parliament on Tuesday suspected that the government’s move to have the sim cards registered is a plan to spy on people’s conversations.

They also faulted the government for not doing enough civic education before embarking on the exercise.

Dausi said the ministry has taken into account the need for comprehensive civic education and that mobile telephone service providers should have enough personnel to reach remote areas.

“We want, first of all, to identify areas across the country where people can access [services] and register. We want to take everyone on board; hence, the need to do more on civic education. Now people have also to understand that government does not have any machine that can do the eavesdropping,” he said

Dausi said the government got an assurance from the companies that they have the capacity but it has transpired that what is on the ground is contrary to the government’s expectations.

“That’s why we have advised them to go back to the drawing board and have enough capacity and the right machines and let them be in each and every corner of the country,” he said

He said the government will communicate on the way forward after going through administrative and procedural requirements to find remedies to the concerns.

Kasungu North East legislator, Elias Wakuda Kamanga, who queried government on the matter, said he hopes that the suspension has been done in good faith.

“In the beginning, many of us queried the government on why it must look like a crisis for people to get their sim cards registered when the people can be given sufficient time. We wish this could have been an on-going programme so that everyone should have a chance to register,” he said.

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