8 February 2013

Tanzania: National ID Cards Come Aboard

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has cautioned the National Identification Authority (NIDA) against issuing identity cards to foreigners, warning that stringent measures would be taken against those who will do so.

President Kikwete issued the warning when launching the long-awaited national ID cards. He stressed that he would not allow the IDs to be issued to foreigners as is the case with national passports, where some migration officials have been arraigned over the matter.

"A foreigner or refugee should not be given a resident mational ID Card. You should refrain from giving a person a national ID that they are not supposed to get just because they are giving you some money," President Kikwete stressed. The president also warned the Registration, Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency (RITA) to be vigilant, as there will be a scramble for birth certificates, as people register for the National ID cards.

He said the exercise will now be carried out jointly between NIDA and the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to reduce cost and repetition of public providing the same information, as well as ensure the exercise is completed before the 2015 general elections. He promised that his government would ensure that funds, facilities and human resources are available, challenges that have been hampering the issuing of the National IDs.

"I have talked with the Minister for Finance and his Permanent Secretary on the matter and they have assured me that this would be taken care of. We have no option but to make sure this is taken care of as soon as possible," he explained. He commended NIDA for fulfilling what he called "a long Tanzanian dream that has finally come true."

He noted that the process for Tanzanians to get National IDs started in the 1960s. However, a number of challenges hampered the implementation including lack of funds. The spectacular ceremony organized by NIDA at the Karimjee grounds yesterday, saw the president receive the first National ID card, followed by First Lady, Mama Salma Kikwete.

Former presidents, senior government officials, politicians, religious leaders and public representatives from Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Kilombero also got their IDs. More than 40 National ID cards were issued during the launch yesterday. Tanzanians have never had national identity cards.

Earlier in his statement, the Minister for Home Affairs, Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi, said that the benefits of possessing a National IDs are immense, including linking up government systems and databases such as RITA, Tanzania Revenue Authority registration systems, police and migration.

"This is apart from individuals using the National ID cards to obtain loans, for government to easily indentify its nationals, from foreigners and refugees living in the country," he explained. Dr Nchimbi explained that NIDA has so far completed among other issues, preparations of acquiring plots in Zanzibar and Mainland Tanzania, including one for construction of a Data Centre and Disaster Recovery Site, related to National ID cards.

"Despite completing the first step of the National ID cards, the project is facing a number of challenges including lack of funds, especially now that the exercise will be carried out jointly between NIDA and NEC in updating the voter's register," he explained.

He promised President Kikwete that his office will issue a report on migration officers who were arraigned for issuing passports to non-Tanzanians in the next few days. NIDA Director General Mr Dickson Maimu said the authority managed to complete National ID card registration and verification for public servants in Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam and Kilombero district in the pilot phase of the project.

Mr Maimu explained that the project will issue three forms of Identification cards, for Tanzanians, Foreigners and Refugees living in the country. Among challenges that faced the pilot exercise was lack of important documents that substantiates personal information given by applicants for the National IDs, including birth, primary and secondary school certificates, voters ID cards and Passport.

He added that there were those who were not residents of Tanzania, who tried to apply for the National ID cards. However, by use of security committees, migration, police and Tanzania Intelligence Service go through the applications to remove those that are not residents.

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