11 July 2018

Botswana: Ministry Re-Engineers Operations

Gaborone — Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs wants to position itself as a facilitator that serves the nation in a conducive environment.

Addressing a press briefing in Gaborone on Tuesday, Minister Dorcas Makgato said the ministry had since identified administrative impediments and classified them as short, medium or long term.

She said ministry took the issue of Omang as fundamental because there were critical internal affairs issues that were dependent upon Omang card such as voter registrations and the 2019 general elections.

"I don't want my ministry to be accused of denying Batswana an opportunity to exercise their democratic right to vote.

It's my duty to make sure that we do not frustrate such process," she said.

Ms Makgato said since April the ministry had renewed 64 000 Omang cards and currently 2 800 cards were produced per day, the pace she said would enable the ministry to have cleared the backlog by August 31 in readiness for registration for the general elections.

She said some of the delays surrounding Omang card were due to the need to replace obsolete equipment and as such in June the ministry bought 100 cameras and printers, which have since been distributed to all district offices.

Ms Makgato said the ministry had requested additional 44 vehicles from the Ministry of Transport and Communication, and so far 24 vehicles have already been delivered and deployed to different districts.

She said 35 new positions had been created this financial year and all of them were filled in May.

She said the ministry has also requested 215 interns from the Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture Development, and 179 had reported for duty.

"We are also doing away with a requirement where one is asked to bring witnesses who are 10 years older than them when the date of birth for the applicant is unknown and has been captured as XX.

The applicant is no longer also required to make an affidavit confirming the replacement of XX with 01/01,"she said.

According to Minister Makgato the request for elders to bring people who had known them for more than 10 years to verify their date of birth was problematic.

She said the National Registration amendment Act of 2017 which introduced the specifications for a photograph for an Omang card had created ambiguity and clashes with some communities' religion and cultures.

She said in the meantime while addressing the ambiguity the ministry would allow the affected communities to retain the headgear as long as it is in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Oragnisation standard.

For her part, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Ms Kebonye Moepeng said the intention to engage with the media was to give and get feedback from them.

She said the ministry was responsible for safeguarding national identity documents.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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