NKHOTAKOTA-(MaraviPost)-Communities in the Lake Shore district Nkhotakota, are frustrated with the ongoing National Registration and Identification exercise, following some chiefs that are demanding money that those need to sign forms are asked to pay money.
According to the local radio station Zodiak, people are paying money ranging from MK15,000.00 to MK1,000.00 per form in two traditional authorities of Kafuzira and Kanyenda in the district.
Reports add that some community members within Nkhunga in Dwangwa had already paid the requested MK1,000.00 per each to have it signed and stamped for authentication from Senior Group Village Head Kanyenda.
The development is worrisome, considering that some people who had no money returned home after being denied access to register for the ID.
The residents have expressed concerns over the matter, saying if left unchecked, the situation is likely to discourage many people from registering.
The registration for national ID is free; but the greed of the few chiefs could enable foreigners to register because most of them have the financial muscle.
“We paid the money the chief requested, we had no choice; we thought it is happening everywhere. Unfortunately, we were not issued with receipts. We are afraid to identify ourselves before police, because we thought once we were known, we would be in trouble,” said one community member, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Group Village Headman Kanyenda however, denied the allegations, and said that the only cash he received was MK2, 000.00 from a certain pastor; he said that payment was meant to buy an ink pad because the one he had was dried-up.
Kanyenda added a twist by attributing the allegations to the chieftaincy wrangle within his family members.
Nkhotakota District Commissioner Felix Mkandawire, confirmed to have heard the rumor of two group village heads in Nkhotakota North that were demanding cash from the communities. He reported that the matter was under investigations at Nkhunga Police.
Mkandawire therefore, warned that if the allegations are found to be true, the chiefs involved would be disciplined.
He however, accused some registration supervisors who instead of giving the registration forms to registration officers to distribute to applicants, gave the booklets to the chiefs.
National Registration Bureau (NRB) Spokesperson Norman Filature, said his office is not aware of the reports.
But when contacted National Initiative for Civic Education District Civic Education Officer James Mumba, said free services are supposed to be for free and if anybody is charging for the National ID, it will frustrate the whole process.
Mumba said no matter how little the amount can be, people can be discouraged to register because they were told that the process is wholly free during the mobilization campaign.
He therefore, appealed to citizens not to pay at the same time, he discouraged chiefs from demanding any payment.
The Malawi Government through National Registration Bureau (NRB), which is under Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security, last month, rolled out the national-wide mass registration exercise for national identity cards.
The program will run in five phases, targeting nine million Malawians for the whole exercise; it is expected to be finalized by December 2017.
The exercise is being funded by the United Nation Development Program (UNDP), and Irish Aid and at a cost of 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 take on Likoma, Lilongwe, Dedza and Ntcheu ?from 1st July -18th August; while the third phase covers Nsanje, Chikhwawa, Neno, Mulanje, Thyolo, Mwanza, Blantyre and Chiradzulu ?from 4th August -21st September.
The fourth phase looks into Mangochi, Machinga, Balaka , Zomba and Phalombe ?from 7th September -25th October then the firth phase covers Chitipa, Karonga, Rumphi, Nkhata Bay and M’mbelwa(Mzimba) from 11th October -28th November.