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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Sim card registration chaos is avoidable

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We seem to get things wrong each time we try to catch up with the progressive world. And the latest of such goofs is the government decision to have users of telephone sim cards to register with phone operators.

Section 92 of the Communications Act (2016) mandates every person to register their sim card with a telephone service provider.

The section specifically states: “A person who uses a generic number or owns or intends to use a sim card for voice telephony services shall register that generic number of sim card with any electronic communications licensee or with the distributor, agent or dealer of electronic communications licensee, authorised to provide or sell generic numbers or sim cards.”

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This piece of legislation is very progressive and is in tandem with global efforts to fight against cyber-crime. We have seen marriages breaking up and people being victimised in places of work just because some evil-minded people have misused sim cards for ill motives.

And the victims are not only ordinary Malawians. Just two days ago, Presidential Adviser on National Unity, Symon Vuwa Kaunda, came in the open to confess that he had been swindled through abuse of a sim card.

Unfortunately, the whole issue has been politicised. the government is to blame in all this chaos because it failed to lead in popularising the law after Parliament passed it.

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As the country inches towards the 2019 tripartite elections, every politically conscious person is jittery to ensure that no-one tampers with the process. As such, Malawians feel ambushed that the government has just sprung from nowhere to hurriedly implement this particular section in the Act.

As if lack of civic education on the law is not bad enough, telephone service providers seem ill-prepared to execute the task. Law-abiding Malawians have been queueing for hours on end at customer-care centres just to have their particulars captured.

As the economy is struggling, Malawians cannot afford to waste such valuable time in front of customer-care desks.

But the question remains, does the Minister of Information, Nicholas Dausi, have powers to suspend implementation of the law? We fear that if not properly handled, the suspension is setting a bad precedent that can lead to further abuse of some good laws in future.

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