Some Malawians whose names were spelt wrongly on their national identity cards are imploring the National Registration Bureau (NRB) to consider revising requirements for changing names on national identity cards.
In interviews conducted in Mzuzu and on social media, several Malawians claim that they are losing opportunities due to mismatching of names on their national IDs and certificates.
This Publication understands that the name-changing process at NRB requires denouncing of a current name through, among others, notifying the district commissioner, the courts and publishing the name change in highly circulated newspapers at least thrice.
Mavuto Lungu, a resident of Chiputula township, said that process is very costly.
“I’ve been trying to implore on NRB to consider simplifying the process but, unfortunately, they have been insisting that every operation within the bureau is guided by laws.”
“In my case,” recalled Justice Chavula, another resident of Mzuzu, “it’s a slight name difference on the ID and my certificates. On Certificates, its Justice Chivula and on ID its Chavula. It’s a problem. Recruiters say, these are two different people. I tell you, it’s painful to lose opportunities because of such slight differences.”
It was established, during the survey, that in the epoch of quota system, many people had changed names and districts of origin in a way to beat the system which, as it was commonly seen, was sidelining students from certain regions of the country.
“I decided to take my father’s first name as my surname during national exams,” disclosed James Gondwe, “That was deemed the only way to beat the system. Unfortunately, when registering for National ID I decided to use my real name, James Gondwe. Leading to names mismatching.”
Other sources claimed that their cases are different!
“For me, it wasn’t my fault,” complained Ephron Shaba, “it was them who instead of Ephron they put Ephraim. I’ve been trying to make them correct my name to match with my other documents, in vain. I’m losing a lot of opportunities due to this mismatching of names.”
In separate findings, our reporter established that a certain number of Malawians are also finding difficulties to correct dates of birth which, as they claim, were mistaken by the NRB on their National IDs.
Thomas Msowoya told our reporter in Mzuzu that instead of putting 1995 on the date of birth, the NRB indicated 1975, a thing, he said, is denying him several opportunities on age grounds.
“I was sent back from police interviews because i failed to meet the age requirements,” he said, “they said I was very old for the training, yet I’m still very young.”
He added: “After noticing the anomaly, i consulted NRB for a correction but they insist that age correction is an offence. I feel that this is unfair.”
In an interview with a renowned security expert in Mzuzu, Timothy Chibambo, he sided with NRB on the matter, saying changing of names would increase cybercrimes in the country.
“We are already grappling with swindlers who use fake national IDs to register sim cards to siphon from Malawians. Allowing for name changing anyhow would increase such malpractices.”
“I am urging those with problems with their National IDs to follow the laws and procedures if they want to be assisted,” he said.
Authorities from NRB were yet to respond to our email questionnaire on the matter before we went to press.