12th November 2018:
The year 2016 was a remarkable year for Malawi and worth celebrating for years to come. With the launch of the national mass registration and identification system campaign, a transformational milestone was achieved, and the positive outcomes went beyond what was anticipated.
With more than 9.2 million Malawians registered for their national identity cards, and an established continuous registration system in all District Councils, this is a story worth sharing across all platforms as one of the best practices in this increasingly digital world.
The campaign successfully contributed to government’s efforts to guarantee the fundamental right to identify, entitlement and enjoyment of the full citizenship of Malawians.
There are many benefits of having a robust national identification system that can be leveraged for several purposes, one of which has been perfectly illustrated in this year’s voter registration for the 2019 Tripartite Elections currently underway in the country.
‘All it takes is less than a minute to register’, has been the frequently used saying in the different public spaces in the country. This is how fast the process of voter registration is taking now that the national identity card is being used as the primary means of identification for eligible voters as compared to the average 15 minutes in the previous years.
This is just one of the many positive outcomes on the linkage that has been established between the voter registration system and the national identity card; creating a ‘One Person, One Identity, One Vote’ system that has made registration easy and has helped lower the cost of the exercise as compared to the previous elections.
As the Chairperson for the Malawi Electoral Commission, Dr. Jane Ansah puts it, “The voters’ roll in the past elections had been a problem. Voters were having transposed photographs, misspelt names, sometimes not found at all at the centre they registered, multiple registrations and the Commission in some cases inadvertently was also registering foreigners or the under-aged due to lack of proper identification system. With the electronic biometric voter registration, these problems will automatically be eliminated”.
The established national identity system has helped to ensure that there is more accurate registration of voters and no multiple entries in the voters’ register in ensuring that every eligible Malawian citizen is able to exercise their right to vote for the upcoming 2019 tripartite elections.
As stated by the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Malawi, Ms. Maria Jose Torres, “The right to identity and nationality is embedded in the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is against this background that development partners including UNDP, DFID, the EU, Irish Aid, Government of Norway and USAID have all come together to support the Government of Malawi to realise this goal for the people of Malawi.”
As we celebrate the milestones achieved however, there is more to be done for the road ahead.To enhance the effectiveness of the national identity system, more linkages and integration to other service provision institutions is vital, and Malawi has made considerable progress towards linking the national identity card.