Malawi National IDs: Great milestone with transformative promise

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Transformative milestone. Fulfilled promise. Landmark development. A guarantor of our citizenship. This is how various stakeholders have described the just-ended mass registration exercise and the issuance of bio-metric national identity cards.

After a long wait for over 50 years without having legal documents identifying us as bona-fide Malawians, everyone is excited about the introduction of national IDs. Even President Peter Mutharika who during his tenure as Justice Minister in 2009 initiated the legislation of the enabling Act is upbeat about the achievement.

Peter Mutharika

APM: This is a game changer

“When I initiated legislation of the Act in 2009 in my capacity as Minister of Justice, everyone said this is not possible. But we have done it. Today, our promise is reality. Our dream is happening,” said Mutharika during the closure of the mass registration campaign in Lilongwe on Thursday.

He added: “Today, we are here to make history. For the first time ever, Malawi has a legal identification system. Every Malawian now has a National Identity Card. This is transformation! The National Identity Card was my promise to the people of Malawi. I have always said – I promise what I do; and I do what I promise.”

The initiative targeted to register 9 million Malawians but has so far beaten the target, courtesy of the desire of every eligible citizen to have a national identity card.

“The National Registration and Identification System has an overall total of 9, 168, 689 Malawians. All these will receive their National Identity Cards. This constitutes a 100 percent national coverage against our initial target population,” explained Mutharika.

While mass registration is closed, there will be continuous registration at all times as those graduating into the eligibility criteria can register and obtain a legal identity at District Commissioners’ Offices.

Game Changer

The benefits of the identity card are numerous. For Eletoni Fundi from Ndanga Village in Mulanje, once he receives the national identity card, his first action will be to use it to open a bank account.

Describing the development as a wonderful solution, he revealed that in the past three years he attempted to open a bank account but financial institutions turned him away due to lack of a genuine ID.

“As a carpenter, I get some substantial money from my business. It has been my longtime dream to save some of my earnings, but lack of an identity card was the stumbling block,” he explained: “With the national ID, the impossibility is now a possibility.”

His sentiments echo what Mutharika said during the closure of the mass registration initiative.

“With a National ID, every citizen can now access banking services because banks feel secure to deal with legally identifiable citizens. With the National ID, banks no longer have reason to deny services to our farmers, mothers and sisters living in rural areas,” Mutharika explained.

He added: “The National ID Card is a game changer. With a legal identity of every citizen, we will now flash out ghost workers from the public service. We will save more money for public services.”

That’s not all. There is also an expectation among many stakeholders of an increase in e-commerce and online transactions because the national identity system steps up electronic security.

“Not long from now, we will now buying and selling our goods online more than ever. This is transformation,” the president explained.

With every Malawian owning a National ID, even the Immigration and Citizenship Services Department, shall have no excuse for processing and issuing passports to crooked foreigners who parachute into the country only to get the much-needed document fraudulently for sinister motives.

Other benefits

The just ended Mass Registration assignment, according to European Union Ambassador to Malawi Marchel Germann is a significant achievement that has put Malawi on track to achieve one of the targets under the Sustainable Development Goals on legal identity for all and birth registration by 2030.

“The digital dividend of this project offers a unique opportunity for Malawi to position itself as a modern state on the African map. Technology can be a tool to establish transparent systems and hence underpin reforms. What we are witnessing today is a milestone for Malawi since it holds transformative promise for the country.”

Germann pointed out that a new chapter has begun as Malawians will enjoy the tangible benefits that ID Cards bring.

“Development Partners would like to encourage your government to ensure that the NRIS, coupled with the ID Cards, will translate into improved service delivery and strengthened democracy.

Malawi diplomats

Diplomats have been supportive

“We invested in this project to see improved governance and an increased tax base by efficiently utilizing this system; to see e-health passports, giving instant access to patients’ medical histories, saving time and lives; and to see improved access to justice and social protection becoming realistic goals to aspire to. The ID Cards are also expected to usher new opportunities to roll out targeted financial inclusion programmes,” he said.

For many citizens to benefit from the card, establishment of linkages between the National Registration and Identification System and government ministries, departments and agencies is of paramount importance.  One crucial linkage already in place is that of between the identification system and the Malawi Electoral Commission.

“We are expecting that this will improve the integrity of the voters’ register and, more importantly, reduce the total cost of the elections. The introduction of ID-Cards should translate into significant cost-savings on the voter registration process and the overall election budget,” said Germann.

Other linkages can be made with the Malawi Revenue Authority, the Ministry of Health, the Immigration Department and the banking sector. Through such links an ecosystem providing improved services for the bearers of the national ID will be created easily.

Transformative milestone

The fruition of the initiative is a result of the  strategic coalition of engagement and commitment between the government of Malawi, and Development Partners – the UNDP, the European Union, UK, Ireland, Norway and the US- which together funded the project.

UNDP Chief Technical Advisor on NRIS-project Tariq Malik summed the valuable collaboration very well. “A project of this size and complexity is never the work of one individual. There are many here today who gave their time, commitment and their energy so this vision could be realized. The number of people registered in the mass registration campaign speaks to their success.”

But when all was said and done, Malik made a capstone observation. “This was truly a project by Malawians, for Malawians….. Today, however, is a moment to pause, to take a breath and to celebrate.   We have achieved a milestone. A milestone with transformative promise.”

Indeed registering over 9 million Malawians; and issuing them with biometric national identity cards within a short period of time is a milestone with transformative promise.

The author is an Executive Director of a human rights media organization, Centre for Solutions Journalism

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54 Comments

  1. Kkkkkkkkkkkkkk malawi sazathekadi munthu munamupangilapo lD now nearly chaka chose kungoonesa mumozi yekha yekha lD yakhe ena alikuti ma lD??????????

  2. Nonsense Malawian people there are rubbish what is benefit of this fuck u think all Malawian they will manege to do these? Eat about anthu aku village koma akwanisa ndengati sapangisa muwachita chiani!

  3. But why are the expiry dates different,others are valid for only 3 years and the expiry date is on your birthday not on the date of issuance to complete the period

  4. Njira alinazo zambiri zobera osati anamizire ID yopanga expire. Mayiko angati omwe atizungulira Ali ndi ID ya expire? Mmakambirana zopanda nzeru koma ndinu akuluakulu mudzifinya amalawi paliponse pachilochonse chitani manyazi , pa wayilesi mmalengeza mwaphavu zili zosapindulira amalawi. Atsogoleri anzanu amayesetsa kufewetsera nzika zawo koma inu obweranu simukhudzidwa ndikuvutika kwa anthu amuno, nzeru zanu koma kukama yoonda …tengani ziphaso migulitse mmalawi sasowa amadziwika mupange ndalamazo zikukwaneni ngati kungatheke.koma pakutha pa moyowu tonse ndi chimodzimodzi basi.

  5. childish comments
    do you think after 5 years your face will look same

    you are now single do u think after 5 years you will still be single

    the renew is to change some of this information in the system which can change

    name
    village
    date of birth
    sex

    will not change

  6. Chamba ID siyimakhala ndi expiry date chotsani expiry date yo siimakhanso ndi zaka zobadwila ayi umenewo ndiye timati usilu

  7. Those ID must be transformed tobecome the value of getting employed.It will be meaningless just holding an ID but no benefit on it .Create more job opportunity inorder to make those ID`s workable ,people must test the dawn of growly from since 54 years of Indipendent.Lastly corruption is the main enemy for any developing country ,We wish our government to fast track the process of its idea of every citizen should acquire their ID without some backlogs

  8. Is it true that they put an.expiry date on a person’s identification card? That sounds like a money making scam to.me if true. How on earth does a person’s identity expire?

  9. You want to steel money from de poor by making expiring IDs and u think we r happy about it,not at all please think twice and make non, expiring IDs we are sick and tired. We r like living in a foreign country … u just make our life hell

  10. Kodi mzika imapangaso expire zogalu basi chimenechi nditaya ndione ngati sindikhala mzika ngati mungandichotse pamene ndimakhala ndidzakuuzani podzala nthanga

  11. Penapake kusazindikira sizinthu do u think kut mwana wadzaka 12 ngt ID yake siipanga expire adzakhalabe the same akafika dzaka 25 without renew?

    • a thom khalan crious kd mexa pamaikdwa chaka cobadwla oxat zaka zamunthu..mwama wazka 12 mukumunenayo mexa amuikla caka comwe adabadwa kt 2005..akamazajambulisaxo mexa azaikabe 2005 az a yr of birth ? zkusyana pa? yemwe anacdwa 1995 or azajambuliseso 2020 azamuiklabe 1995 munduza kt azamusnthla kumuikla 2000 cifukwa cot id inapana expire?

    • I don’t mean xaka maybe we don’t the meaning of ID? Identification card (ID)nde we change our looks wen we r growing my bra they have to make it again so that u can be identified easily that’s wat I mean

    • Blindness is not about this my dear,a blind person can identity his or her relatives by voice or touching them bt we r talking about IDs ngt unalembapo mayeso aboma amakufunsa ID kenako amakuona kut nkhope yako ndi imene ili pa ID ikufanana if not ur going back that’s am saying this and even school ID have got expiry date bcause they knw we r growing up my men

    • Nthawi yomwe timalemba mayeso nthawi yomwe ma ID amatuluka anthu angapo anapezeka kuti ma ID awo sanatuluke,chomwe chinapangika anangowapangila ma ID opanda khope kungo lembapo dzina basi malo akhope anango ikapo Maneb symbol. Pali njira zambili zomuziwira munthu not only looks,ena ma passport awo kuti muone nkhope simungankhulupilere kuti ndiyake

  12. Stop Talking About National IDs, So Many Problems That Cannot Be Solved Becoz U Have Got An Id In Ur Pocket, And Dont Eat IDs, We Dont Use Id As aMode Of Electricity.

    • zilibwino kutinso apa! chi id chopanga expire? really unzika kupanga expire mpakana? rubbish! kufuna kubera amphawife basi etii,anthu opanda chisoni inu,kaya ndi anthu angati adzakwanitse kupanga renewe ndi umphawi ulimuno mmalawi muno kaya!

    • don’t make malawian to be poor it’s the typ of ur thinking which is making Malawi to be poor. every I’d on earth has expiry dates hence need for renewal. Ur face won’t look the same in 5 yrs tym who wll recognize u wth an I’d made 5 yrs back. be civilised and don’t politicise anything. amalawi plz plz

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