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Minister clarifies on national IDs

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Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Cecilia Chazama, Wednesday told Parliament why the national identity cards which Malawians are obtaining have expiry dates.

Some stakeholders have been arguing that the IDs should not have expiry dates on the premise that they are aimed at formalising someone’s citizenship which cannot expire.

But updating the august House on the distribution of the IDs and continuous registration, Chazama said an individual’s features change with time; the need hence to replace the IDs.

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She added that it is assumed that everyone registers at the age of 16 such that, after every 10 years, they are supposed to register again at regular intervals from that age.

“[Additionally], the materials used to produce the cards can only stand for a specific time and therefore require replacement. It is also a way of finding out whether someone is still living or dead,” Chazama said.

The minister also disclosed that it is anticipated that the National Registration Bureau (NRB) will be registering about 500,000 individuals every year.

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In their contributions on the statement, some Members of Parliament (MPs) wanted Chazama to pronounce herself on reports that the IDs will be used by the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) in the voter registration exercise.

“Is the national ID going to be used in registering for the 2019 elections? Mec officials said they will use the IDs and I want to find out how this will be done,” said Clement Mlombwa, MP for Dedza South West.

The question was repeated by other MPs.

About four times, Chazama said she could not say anything on the matter, arguing that would be better handled by Mec.

“I am not a spokesperson for Mec,” she said at a certain point, adding that her ministry has not entered into any formal agreement with the electoral body on the use of the IDs during voter registration.

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