News that officers in the National Registration and Identification System exercise are staging a sit-in from today is the last we want to hear. The disgruntled officers are demanding an increase in their daily allowances and also the reinstatement of their colleagues who were fired unceremoniously over the same demands.
What is disheartening is that these demands have been there since the beginning of the exercise in May this year but, somehow, no permanent solution has been offered and should these officers go ahead with their threats, we shudder to imagine the magnitude of confusion this would cause on the credibility of the exercise.
The mere fact that we have disgruntled people entrusted with crucial roles in this most important exercise for our country is distressing enough because they might not serve as diligently as they should and that is a risk this nation cannot afford to take, at least not for such a fundamental cause.
Already, the exercise is marred by controversy, from inadequate materials at the centres to misinformation provided to citizens and even fears of foreigners attempting to or successfully registering. Scores of Malawians have been queuing hours on end, in all regions, just to legitimise their nationality. This means Malawians have trust and confidence in the work that National Registration Bureau (NRB) is carrying out and that the process will ultimately accomplish its intended objectives. But to have such confidence knocked down right in the middle of the exercise is undesirable. We know NRB has so far played down fears that the exercise is in jeopardy, yet on the ground, the situation seems different.
NRB and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) better put their house in order to give Malawians a definite guarantee that the most important exercise will not be compromised on the basis of their failure to handle remuneration packages for the workers.
These remuneration agreements or lack of the same ought to have been sorted out way before the exercise took off.
At K35 billion budget, the nation expects nothing less of an outstanding process, which is also fundamental to the credibility of the 2019 tripartite polls.
It is further worrying to note how NRB and PwC are pushing the blame on each other, feigning ignorance of the petition by the officers, yet this has been a long-standing issue.
The two institutions should please work on sanitising the exercise and give us, Malawians, the confidence that this process will not be compromised, whether by disgruntled officers or for any reasons at all.
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