THE National Identification Authority (NIDA) is now implementing its Mutli-million ID project aimed at making sure that all Tanzanians adults are registered and provided with national ID.
However, arguably lack of knowledge and false understanding of national ID cards project may slow down the project in Zanzibar. Various Zanzibaris including Muslim clerics say they do not need the Tanzania ID for now, an indication that most people on the islands still need awareness about the importance of the Identification and Registration of Persons.
In Zanzibar, NIDA operations are managed by 'Zanzibar office Director' Mr Vuai Mussa, at his offices located at the former Immigration building at Kilimani in Zanzibar town.
The Immigration has shifted to a new building in the same area. Although the Authority continues to provide public awareness about the importance of the National System of Identification and Registration of Persons, residents in Unguja and Pemba need joint educative convincing efforts.
"We need help from the media, politicians and religious leaders in making sure that all people understand the importance of the national IDs. There is a misconception about the Ids. One of them is that the national IDs are replacing the Zanzibar IDs," said Vuai, adding that National ID and the Zanzibar IDs have separate laws and jurisdiction. He said that the national Ids are not meant to 'obliterate' ZanIDs and people should know that the Tanzania Ids have multiple purposes for the citizens and also identifying foreigners legally in the country.
Vuai emphasizes that his office (NIDA) will operate without discrimination and all Zanzibaris, who deserve the national Id will be issued with the document, people in Zanzibar should prepare to prove they deserve it by showing a birth certificate or any other acceptable proof of citizenship. Why Zanzibaris frown at national IDs, some of the reasons from Zanzibaris against the national IDs.
The number of Zanzibaris still reluctant to accept the national ID, as an expression of their concern why the government delays to issue Zanzibar Resident Identity Card (ZanID). The elderly people and youths in north Unguja, Pemba and other areas in urban centres have at different occasions, complained that they are being denied the IDs.
ZanID is a compulsory document since 2005 to all Zanzibaris of 18 years of age and above and it has remained a big issue particularly in politics because it is a qualification to vote. Due to increased cry for the IDs, some leaders of the Civic United Front (CUF) in Zanzibar which form the Government of National Unity (GNU) have rallied behind their followers, complaining that there is discrimination in issuing the IDs.
They accuse local leaders, mostly community leaders (Sheha) of bias against those seen as pro- CUF. Mr Seif Sharif Hamad, first vice-president, recently reiterated that it was unacceptable and a violation of human rights for a Zanzibari to be denied an ID. "My message to government officials and Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohammed Shein is that we must be honest, show good will in enhancing the political reconciliation."
Hamad alleged that while there is evidence that many Zanzibaris are denied the IDs, there are reports that some non-Zanzibaris are issued with the document contrary to the law. UAMSHO, the current vocal Islam propagation group has asked its followers that there is no need for NIDA's Id before solving the issue of ZanID! "Why should we rush for Tanzania National Ids, before the government solves people's complaints about the ZanID?
We are now conducting a nationwide recording of all Zanzibaris who have been denied ZanIDs. We want them to be given the ZanIds before the National ID," said Abdallah Ali, UAMSHO secretary. He argues further that: "It does not make sense to be discriminated against at home and denied ZanIDs, but accepted abroad (National Id), we are asking all Zanzibar to avoid, at least for now, going for national Ids until obstacles on ZanIDs are removed."
The UAMSHO secretary estimates that more than 50,000 Zanzibaris are eligible for the ZanID, but have not been given the Ids. His organization was not against the national IDs but it is pressing the authorities to consider people's outcry for their rights to have the ZanID. But community leaders and the Director of Registration and Zanzibar ID project, Mr Mohamed Ame has several times dismissed discrimination allegations as baseless, asking all those with evidence to appeal to their offices wherever they are.
Although the minister of state, Dr Mwinyihaji Haji Makame responsible for ZanID, admits to have problems with issuance of the IDs, he dismisses the claims as too much exaggeration and blames Zanzibaris for not picking up their IDs in their respective district offices. "There are many uncollected IDs at our offices in Unguja and Pemba. Every Zanzibari who meets the requirements cannot be denied ZanID," said Makame, asking all who have applied, but denied to report to the Zanzibar ID offices.
NIDA gears to forge on with ID registration on isles After the registration of more than 35,000 civil servants in Zanzibar, NIDA has planned to continue with its registration process in Zanzibar this month (October), Vuai informed the 'Daily News.' He said his office was finalizing preparations to take off. He mentions some of the benefits of national ID as: Cost savings by reducing money spent on illegal immigration and benefit fraudw and having all data needed by different agencies held in one place.
The incorporation of biometrics into the new ID cards scheme will increase document security; the government is responding to the general global drive towards the use of biometrics for identity. The NIDA Zanzibar Office Director, Mr Vuai says that the National Id is essential in tackling problems of immigration and illegal working in the country.
ID cards will make it easier for those seeking work to demonstrate their right to do so and to show that a company employing illegal labour had done so knowingly. The scheme will help protect citizens against identity fraud and theft. The card will provide a single universal document for proof of age and ID cards will help tackle serious and organised crime, which depends on the use of false identities, in particular terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering. NIDA official says that the scheme will ensure free public services are accessed easier and only used by those entitled to them.
Civil liberties and rights will be strengthened by safeguarding people's identity and protecting them from identity theft, terrorism, serious crime and from those who seek to abuse the immigration rules and public services. The national ID allows citizens, legal residents and refugees' unhindered access to services and benefits to which they are entitled. Every person should make sure they are registered and get the ID.