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The East African : Mar 16th 2015
The EastAfrican NEWS MARCH 14-20,2015 VOTER REGISTRATION SUSPENDED ID hitches mar Tanzania’s election preparations The gove≥nment is sho≥t on funds and human capital to issue national IDs By HELLEN NACHILONGO Special Correspondent T anzania’s preparations for a referendum have been hit by hitches that could undermine the credibility of the general election later this year. Last week, the government suspended the issuance of national identity cards following a shortage of funds and human capital. This came just days after the biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise in some regions was suspended over technical problems. The National Identification Authority (NIDA) started the registration exercise in 2012. So far, over 6.1 million people have been registered, and 1.7 million issued with IDs. The project is being jointly carried out by NIDA and the National Electoral Commission (NEC), and was to be completed this year so that the IDs could be used in the elections scheduled for October. Financial constraints have hit the BVR project, which is moving slowly. Thomas William, who heads NIDA’s Communication and Documentation Unit, said the targets could not be met due to financial constraints, but the BACKGROUND The National Identification Authority (NIDA) started the voter registration exercise in 2012, in preparation for the election in October. Tanzanian election officials collect ballot boxes at a tallying centre in Dar es Salaam on November 1, 2010, a day after voters went to the polls. The government has been issuing IDs that it hopes shall be used in the October elections. Picture: File We have only been able to issue IDs to five of at least 25 regions countrywide Thomas William,NIDA exercise had been completed in Dar es Salaam, Coast, Lindi, Morogoro, Mtwara and Tanga regions of Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar. “This is a very small percent- age, taking into consideration that the exercise started in 2012, and we have only been able to register and issue the IDs to five of at least 25 regions countrywide,” he said. He, however, expressed op- timism that in the 2015/2016 budget, the government would allocate funds that would enable NIDA to resume registration in other parts of the country. NIDA had requested Tsh160 billion ($85 million) out of the total Tsh476 billion ($252 million), but disbursement has been slow. A Malaysian company, Iris Corporation Bhd, won the fiveyear contract to issue 25 million national IDs to qualifying Tanzanian citizens. The government made a deci- sion that the national IDs will soon be used as the only official documents for citizens and residents domestically. The process for Tanzanians So far, over 6.1 million people have been registered, and 1.7 million issued with IDs. But last week, government suspended the issuance of national identity cards. The exercise was to be completed this year so that the IDs could be used in the elections. Days earlier, the government had suspended the biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise in some regions over technical hitches. to get national IDs started in the 1960s. However, a number of challenges have hampered implementation, among them the high cost of preparing and man- aging the programme. At the time, there was no prop- erly documented roadmap, and the costs of such an undertaking were not known, given the complexity of registering and issuing secure ID cards to the adult population of approximately 15 million people. The benefits of possessing a national ID are immense, including linking up with government systems and databases such as those of the Registration Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency (RITA), the Tanzania Revenue Authority, the police and migration department. In February this year, the gov- ernment said it was facing a huge financial deficit, as it was depending solely on collections from the TRA. As a result, all development projects had come to a halt. The decision by donors to withhold budget support of $500 million pending the outcome of the Tegeta escrow account scandal — a multimillion dollar corruption scheme involving senior government figures — has affected fiscal plans. The taxman collects an av- erage of Tsh800 billion ($425 million) monthly, which is only enough to pay wages and service the national debt. Finance Minister, Saada Mkuya in February told the House budget committee that in the past six months, the government had been operating on meagre resources from TRA, and was not in a position to finance a single development project. 3 APPLICATIONS FOR INSTITUTION BASED PROGRAMMES – APRIL 2015 INTAKE Kenyatta University Invites: APPLICATIONS FOR INSTITUTION BASED POSTGRADUATE PROGRAMMES – APRIL 2015 INTAKE which will be offered in through Institution Based Mode of Study beginning April 2015. INSTITUTION BASED PROGRAMMES OFFERED IN SATELLITE CAMPUSES which will be offered in the Academic year 2014/2015 beginning in APRIL 2015 at the Nakuru, Nyeri, Mombasa, Kitui, Kericho and Embu Campuses. The programmes are offered during the school holidays i.e. the months of April, August and December. For more details check your copy of the Daily Nation of 3rd March 2015.
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