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National Registration Bureau moves to clean pre-election data

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CHIMWENDO BANDA—We quarantined all the data

Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda has disclosed that data that was collected by the National Registration Bureau (NRB) prior to the June 23 election was quarantined following concerns that were raised.

Before Malawians voted in the court-ordered fresh election, details emerged that NRB had registered some children as adults that would be eligible to vote and that babies born in 2020 were also registered as adults.

Speaking on the sidelines of a press conference held in commemoration of the Africa Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) day in Lilongwe Monday, Chimwendo Banda said the process of cleaning up the NRB system is underway.

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“We quarantined all the data that we took during the election time when people raised some concern. We understand that those concerns were taken into consideration and right now as I speak that data which our colleagues in the department had taken has been quarantined,” he said.

Regarding the CRVS day, Chimwendo Banda said his ministry is engaging necessary authorities to consider civil registration as ‘an essential service’.

He said he has instructed NRB to put in place strategies to ensure business continuity during emergencies, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The essential services, according to Chimwendo, are registering new born babies and registering deaths, among others.

“Civil registration has not been classified as an essential service in the Covid-19 prevention management. However, as a ministry, we are engaging the necessary authorities to consider civil registration as an essential service,” he said.

Before the fresh election Malawi Congress Party (MCP) claimed to have detected flaws in the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) and NRB databases.

Information technology expert Daud Suleman made the claim, prompting MCP to allege that Mec was planning to rig the fresh poll by, among other things, producing a compromised voter register.

According to the data Suleman showed, children aged below 16 years had been given NRB identity card numbers, a move which, according to the party, raised suspicions in the face of reports that Mec had been registering under-aged children in the Southern Region.

Suleman said the database showed 4,367 voters who neither had NRB ID cards nor receipts, but appeared in Mec’s voters roll.

He further alleged that 37,890 voters had no NRB ID numbers in the Mec voter register and that 3.7 million were registered in NRB database but had no ID numbers.

The database system he showed also indicated that some of the 3.7 million registered in Mec database were born after July 2002, further indicating that the youngest person registered in Mec voters’ registers was born in 2029 (meaning the person is still not born).

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