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LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)- The Malawi Government through the National Registration Bureau (NRB), which houses in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security, on Wednesday rolled out the national-wide mass registration exercise for national identity cards.

The program will run in five phases, targeting nine million people for the whole exercise, with expectation to be finalized by December 2017.

The exercise is being funded by United Nation Development Program (UNDP), and Irish Aid and is worth US$49,694,000 (MK36 billion).

The first phase covers districts including Kasungu, Dowa, Mchinji, Nkhotakota, Salima, and Ntchisi from 28th May – 15th July 2017.

The second phase takes on Likoma, Lilongwe, Dedza, and Ntcheu from 1st July – 18th Augusto. The 3rd phase covers Nsanje, Chikhwawa, Neno, Mulanje, Thyolo, Mwanza, Blantyre and Chiradzulo and runs from 4th August – 21st September.

The fourth phase takes on Mangochi, Machinga, Balaka , Zomba, and Phalombe and will be from 7th September – 25th October. Finally the fifth phase covers Chitipa, Karonga, Rumphi, Nkhata Bay and M’mbelwa (Mzimba) running from 11th  October -28th November.

In joint news conference, Malawi and its development partners on Tuesday in the capital Lilongwe, where Home Affairs Minister, Grace Chiumia called on all Malawians to patronize the exercise.

Chiumia pleaded with people to be patriotic, and refrain from aiding foreigners acquire the ID cards. She warned that the perpetrators will be jailed up to five years, and a fine of MK2 million if found guilty.

Speaking on behalf of the developmental partners, Irish Ambassador Aine Hearns said the exercise will contribute to government’s efforts to guarantee the fundamental right to identity, entitlement and enjoyment of the full citizenship in Malawi.

The projects targets individuals with the age of 16 years and older. Upon  registration, card holders will be issued birth certificates and national identity cards that can be  used at all centres, including the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) earmarked for General Elections.

Until 2016, Malawi was the only country within SADC and COMESA without national IDs issued to its citizens; this caused illegal migration of foreigners.

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