By Patience Lunda:
The National Registration Bureau (NRB) has said it will not manage to process all the three million national Identity Cards (IDs) that are expected to expire by December this year.
The development is due to limited printing capacity, which would spill over, according to the bureau.
In a written response, NRB spokesperson, Norman Fulatira said so far, about 500 000 IDs have been renewed for citizens across the country.
Fulatira said that the distance their clients travel to access NRB services is another setback, adding that they would continue with outreach registration activities to bring their services closer to the people.
Though the bureau received new printers, some of which are on their way into the country, Fulatira added that they are planning to procure a high-volume printing facility to increase the printing capacity.
“Through the Accountant General, NRB is engaging local banks to help in service payments and the Treasury has been supportive to our activities by providing the resources which we request, according to our budget and cash flow,” he added.
Meanwhile, the bureau has indicated that recruitment of about 180 officers to beef up staff is underway.
Commenting on the development, Moses Mkandawire, a social commentator, said the delay by the bureau to renew the IDs is depriving some Malawians of their right to access essential services.
Mkandawire said there is a need for NRB to lobby institutions that require people to use national IDs so that they can continue transacting using the expired ones.
“For starters, the Nations IDs were not supposed to expire shortly after being processed. They needed to take time because now people are failing to access most essential services which is why NRB needs to sit down with them and allow people to use the expired IDs,” he said.
Currently, the only ones allowed to use expired national IDs are the Affordable Inputs Programme beneficiaries.
The government had set aside K400 million for the procurement of blank national IDs for new applicants and those renewing the national identification card.