Plug Loopholes in NRC Issuance [opinion]

This move by the Patriotic Front (PF) Government is important for the country which is determined to capture more citizens on the voters' register.

Home Affairs Deputy Minister Gerry Chanda who flagged off the exercise in Kabwe yesterday, reiterated that the NRC is an important document which should not be issued any how to any person.

Colonel Chanda also warned that those found attempting to take advantage of the exercise, should be ready to be prosecuted.

It is well known that, not all those who make up the Zambian population figure of 13 million people are genuine Zambians and that; these so called citizens have been helped to acquire this important document by the very Government officials who issue them.

The fact that this exercise starts with areas that are close to border areas some of whose frontiers are porous, makes it even easier for foreigners to cross over and take advantage.

This problem has been dogging the country for a long time and needs concerted efforts to be curbed successfully because, the whole matter starts with some unscrupulous traditional leaders, corrupt citizens, through to Government officials in the Home Affairs Ministry and the National Registration Department.

On the other hand, there are also facilities such as the infamous Matero Township in Lusaka, where apart from NRCs, other fake national documents like, birth certificates, passports and visas are also issued.

Many times the media has highlighted corrupt tendencies in these departments but not much has been done to punish erring officials found guilty.

Government should be wary of a powerful cartel in the NRC issuance scandal which involves thousands of Kwacha. This is where the screening should start from.

There had been situations where foreign nationals claim to belong to a certain district and even accurately mentioning the names of chiefs and villages, when in fact it is not true.

These suspected foreigners have even received local language lessons to make them appear as though they are genuine citizens.

The point here really is that, the Government when coming up with a noble exercise like this one should first ensure that it carries out massive sensitisations especially in areas that border other countries so that Zambians can remain alert and be able to identify those that want to pose as true citizens of this country.

Most of those that obtain national documents are doing it for a purpose and are the same people involved in drug scandals when they travel to other countries thereby tarnishing the name of Zambia.

There are also many individuals in the corporate world and the political arena who are perpetrating criminal activities and violence in the country.

As the country edges close to the 2016 Presidential elections, this is when the vice tends to be rife and a lot of money is already exchanging hands in the wake of the mobile NRC issuance exercise.

The country is yet to see what tangible strategies that the Government has put in place to nip this vice in the bud because despite these measures, the loop holes still remain to be sealed.

It seems the people behind it are so sophisticated such that, the law cannot locate them.

A recent statement by Home Affairs Minister Davis Chama concerning the introduction of bio-metric NRCs, could be one of the measures aimed at curbing the vice but the question is, how tight is the process such that it cannot be open to manipulation by these unscrupulous people?

Remember that this is big business to them and therefore the Government should invest heavily in the security system to ensure that documents are not easily forged.

Government should also endeavour to smash the Matero 'national registration offices' as well any other illegal issuance point in the country which are aiding foreigners with national documents.

All in all, the Government is in the right to come up with initiatives such as the mobile NRC issuance exercise but, it should also come up with harsh punitive measures for erring officers involved in these scandals.