Malawi VP Chilima Says National ID Project Set To Rollout: ‘We Are Walking The Talk’
In what can be described as walking the talk on public sector reforms, the Malawi government is set to launch the much awaited National Identity Cards – 12 years after such attempts by previous regimes.
Speaking in an interview with Zodiak radio, Vice President Saulos Chilima, who chairs the reforms commission, said the first 6,200 cards which were meant for proof of concept are ready for distribution.
“We are done with the first phase in which we registered the President, Cabinet Ministers, MPs, journalists, and citizens in selected areas across the country. This was part of piloting the project. In other words, we are saying the project has started and any day His Excellency the President will launch the project,” said Chilima.
Malawi was the only country without the ID card in southern Africa and made it difficult for its citizens to prove their citizenship as well as access some social services from government and the private sector.
Among others, the cards will also be used to enhance national security and biometric authentication because to ensure national census, the central registration database will provide near-real time data about the adult population and its distribution.
For improved service delivery, the c can be accessible to other sectors, such as, banks in the financial sector and can be used an ATM.
The card will also offer government a wide range of solutions in as far as improving service delivery is concerned like Internal administrative systems such as government payroll which can be linked to the ID, thereby completely eliminating ghost workers, consolidating biometric systems into one identity across all MDAs.
In the interview, Chilima also appealed to Malawians to embrace the reforms, saying it is the only remedy the country has if development is to continue.
“Let us change as a people and realise that time is not on our side. If we can’t reform for ourselves, then let us implement this for the next generation,” he said.
On the bloated civil service, Chilima said retrenching people will not be the ideal solution because it will worsen unemployment but said government will maintain the freeze on hiring people while reallocating others to other sectors.
“These were recruited by someone. They didn’t just come here. So the solution is not to expel them at one go but identify those who can be trained to become primary school teachers or Agriculture extension workers as long as we manage the process smoothly in the first phase,” said Chilima.
By using a similar model, the reforms have successfully reduced the number of PSs from 96 before the reforms to 26 by maintaining the hiring freeze while making sure that those who have retired pack up and go. Four more PSs are expected to retire before February 2017.
He then appealed to some authorities in the civil service to avoid indulging in nepotism or favouritism, stressing that professionalism should be adhered to if the public sector is to tick.
The Vice President, well known for being a workaholic and time keeper, also highlighted a number of successes in the reforms exercise promising that failure is not option because, he said, reforms are crucial for Malawi as it stands.