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NRB speaks on national ID ‘flaws’

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National Registration Bureau (NRB) has spoken on the queries raised by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) regarding suspected national registration flaws.

HRDC wrote the bureau expressing its reservations with a number of flaws associated with the exercise including reports that some minors are registering as adults and that foreigners are also registering as Malawian citizens.

But in a letter dated April 16, 2020, NRB Chief Director Mackford Somanje says the law mandates the bureau to register every Malawians from 16 years and issue national identity cards (IDs).

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The letter also says the bureau registers those who are under 16 years old who are issued with birth certificates and not national IDs.

“So far NRB has been strictly vetting Malawian citizens in terms of birth citizenship and age not only in the mentioned districts but across the country. In this regard, all District Registration Officers have been strongly advised to strictly adhere to the set standard operating procedures,” reads the statement.

On registration of foreigners who are allegedly being ferried in lorries by politicians, the bureau says it does not matter how people travel to the registration centres and who transports them but that they are scrutinised before being registered as citizens.

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“As NRB our mandate starts at a time a citizen avails himself or herself to the bureau’s offices. How he/she has travelled to get registered is not a concern of the NRB,” he said.

The bureau also said it has been civic educating Malawians against selling their national identity cards saying no person or organisation is mandated to buy or confiscate national IDs.

NRB has also dismissed reports that people who are raising red flags on the ills associated with the registration exercise within the bureau are being victimised.

HRDC wrote NRB on April 14 expressing the said concerns.

The rights body warned that if left unchecked, malpractices can compromise the integrity of the country’s national identification and registration system and by extension the credibility of elections.

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