Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development Cecilia Chazama this week requested the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) to assist to clear misconceptions over the issuance of national identity cards, which some people are saying are meant for destruction.
Speaking when she visited some registration centres in Nkhotakota on Wednesday, Chazama said it was sad to note that some people in the country are shunning the national registration exercise, saying the national identity cards were being issued to Malawians believe that the card was a symbol of destruction.
“We have had reports that some people are refusing to go to register because the national identity cards are connected to the alleged 666 figure, which is said to be a destruction symbol. I would like to bring to the attention of Malawians that the national identity cards have nothing to do with that. The identity cards are meant to show them as bonafide citizens of this country.
“This is why I am asking NICE to help us sensitize the rural masses on the importance of the exercise; NICE is the body that has been entrusted to conduct the awareness drive on the issue,” she said.
She however, said it was pleasing to note that despite the misconceptions spreading around, there was high turn-up of people in some registration centres.
“I visited Mchinji before coming to Nkhotakota and people are flocking to the registration centres to get registered and it is our wish that every Malawian who is 16 years and above, gets registered hence our plea to NICE to help us conduct the awareness to clear the misconceptions,” said Chazama.
The Minister also called upon Jehova’s Witnesses members to go and register in the ongoing NRB exercise; she said her office has also received reports that followers of the mentioned church are not shunning the exercise.
“We also have reports that members of Jehova’s Witness are refusing to register, following reports that the national identity cards will be used for voting. This is not true because the identity cards will only enhance the voting process, as it will be used as proof that one is a bonafide Malawian, who is eligible to vote,” she said. According to Assistant District Registrar for Nkhotakota District Council Malani Moyo, the district has not yet noted any case where by a member of Jehovah’s Witness follower refused to register.
“The registration process is going on very well here in Nkhotakota since it started. Yes we have had challenges, but they were just minor ones and we managed to sort them out,” he said.
According to recent information released by NRB, over 500,000 citizens have registered by the second week of the national ID mass registration in five districts of phase 1; this representing a 40 percent registration rate.
The five districts where registration in taking place in full swing are Mchinji, Ntchisi, Salima, Nkhotakota and Kasungu. Dowa is expected to start soon.