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National IDs’ 10-year renewal queried

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University of Malawi political scientist, Boniface Dulani, has faulted the renewal aspect of the National Identity Card that President Peter Mutharika launched yesterday.

Some countries have national IDs without expiry date but Malawi cards are expected to be renewed every 10 years.

Dulani said the country struggles to raise resources every five years for national elections and renewing the ID cards would be an extra burden.

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“National Registration Bureau can offer a better explanation but as a country, we struggle in terms of resources. Every five years, we struggle to register for elections. It makes it more expensive to renew the IDs,” Dulani said.

National Registration Bureau (NRB) Spokesperson, Norman Fulatira, justified the renewal saying according to the accreditation law, the card has to be renewed after 10 years.

He further said people change faces after 10 years and also that after 10 years the material has to be replaced.

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When launching the card, Mutharika said the National Identity Card (ID) will help the country flash out ghost workers in the public service and save millions of funds being lost through such workers.

Recently, government was forced to conduct head count of all civil servants to get rid of ghost workers.

According to Mutharika, the money that will also be saved through the identification of ghost workers will be needed for drugs for our hospitals, build more roads for our communities and modernise our cities.

Mutharika also said the new identification system will bring better organisation in various socio-economic transactions.

Due to the absence of national identity cards, millions of Malawians are currently finding it hard to prove that they are really Malawians and right beneficiaries when accessing financial and other social services that demand the presentation of national identity before access.

Mutharika said the card will also save significant amounts of money that would be spent on voter registration during elections.

Mutharika said a systematic identification of all citizens will also help in reducing crime and improving security in the country.

United Nat ions Res ident Coordinator, Mia Seppo, said the card fills a long existing gap to allow citizens prove their legal identity and gives the government a powerful tool to design, plan and implement its policies.

“The system has adopted international standards and drawn from experiences in the region. This will allow Malawi to strengthen it trade links,” Seppo said.

According to Mutharika, the National Identity Card project is expected to roll out at a full scale sometime next year.

The roll out process will target an estimated 9 million Malawians and the country needs a total budget of $50 million for the national roll out of which the government of Malawi has pledged to commit about 40 percent of the funds.

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