Parliament pins National Registration Bureau boss
The Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament Thursday questioned the integrity of the newly appointed National Registration Bureau (NRB) boss Mackford Somanje amid allegations that, among others, his appointment is to aide Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rig the July 2, 2020 presidential elections.
The committee also asked the NRB chief on allegations that citizens under the age of 16 are registered as being 18 years old or over so that they vote in the elections.
But Somanje denied affiliation to any party or any institutions that is trying to tamper with the NRB system.
“I want to assure all Malawians that I am a very professional person and I will discharge my duties without aiding anybody, or a political party. I am a public officer and I am not connected to a political party. My duty is to serve Malawians and it ends there,” he said
He stressed that while reports have been awash that some people that are confiscating IDs from citizens would want to delete data especially that of people in the Northern and Central regions, the NRB system cannot be interfered considering the high security features it was built with.
The Northern and Southern regions are political strongholds for the Malawi Congress Party and UTM. The two parties have since formed an electoral alliance.
Somanje then told Parliament that NRB plans to engage several stakeholders including the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) to put across message that NRB will not be used to aid any political party to win the forthcoming elections.
“I will not be a tool or agent to aid any political party. I should strongly advise people not to give anyone their IDs to collect data. We have not sent anybody and NRB does not have a proxy in its mandate where a person can collect an ID on behalf of another person,” he said.
Chairperson for the Parliamentary committee Kezzie Msukwa, however, said the committee is not satisfied and will closely monitor how NRB executes its duty.
“He [Somanje] is heavily compromised considering his political background. We just hope that he will be able to think beyond politics and be able to do the job he is supposed to do. We have inquired on the IDs that are being found everywhere in this country. We will be watching as a committee to see that his performance should be able to match what he has said. We will be looking at registration numbers that have been generated,” he said
The chief director also disclosed that they have set aside 70 million to carter for registration exercise that NRB will be doing in collaboration with Malawi Electoral Commission during voter registration.
On Tuesday president of Malawi Congress Party Lazarus Chakwera alleged that NRB is among institutions that are being taken advantage of to manipulate the presidential elections.
He also warned people of some unscrupulous people that confiscating the ID in exchange of loans from government.