A cross-section of people taking part in the registration for national identity cards have complained about hitches surrounding the process, including lack of public education about the process.
A survey conducted in various local government offices in Ilala and Kinondoni municipalities in Dar es Salaam at the weekend, showed that many people could not follow even minor instructions such as how to complete forms and differentiate this particular activity from registration for the population census.
Pius Wakuja of Ilala Mafuriko appealed to the government to do more in educating the public on what was required of them “instead of relying on a few radio and television announced”.
He said many people were not aware of the conditions and requirements for registration when one going to apply for an ID, as a result many people were embarrassed when they reached the offices, only to be informed that they could have done this or bring that.
“This exercise is not clearly understood to the public…television advert shows that an applicant should have a birth certificate or a voter ID, but when you go there, they also ask for other credentials like baptism certificates,” Wakuja complained.
He said the process was cumbersome causing people to spend much time at the offices and some of them fail to register even after reaching the offices and waiting for hours.
Kimara resident Erica Haule said that the exercise was complicated because people who go for application often were told to back home to collect some documents which were missing.
“This exercise is complicated…we spend a lot of time waiting to fill in the application forms…due to lack of knowledge and awareness people tend to spend much time in filling in the forms,” she said.
Chairman of Mafuriko Street in Ilala municipality Idrissa Mintanga said in an interview that among the biggest challenges the local governments were facing was that people going to the offices to register declined to give some information, claiming that the exercise was intended to take information for next month’s census, and they were not ready for that.
Despite the hitches, he said at least 700 have already registered for the IDs in his street. “We know our people, we have the duty of to helping them to register for the identity cards,” he said.
Mintanga said another challenge they faced dealing with those who looked like Somalis, but said they were Tanzanians. “They claim to be Tanzanians while they don’t speak Kiswahili and they don’t have birth certificates,” he explained.
For his part, a registrar at Mafuriko Street in Ilala municipality, Ally Mshauri claimed that lack of awareness amongst some people was making the exercise tough because they appeared at the local government offices without proper documents.
“For a person to be registered, he or she must have personal documents which should be attached with the registration form, such as a birth certificate, certificate of primary education, a clinic card or certificate of baptism among the other. Our goal is to get the details which identify a person, to know if he or she is a Tanzanian or a foreigner,” he explained.
Katembo Kitwana, a registration clerk at Mchangani Street in Makumbusho ward in Kinondoni Municipality, concurred that lack of awareness was making the registration process “too slow for comfort”.
“It took us some time to give them preliminary education instead of start the registration process straight away….most adults have no sufficient documents, so we direct them to go and obtain introduction letters from their streets’ leaders, in events of suspicious documents, we immediately contact the National Identification Authority (NIDA) office for clarification,” he explained.
But NIDA public relations officer Rose Mdami said in an interview that despite the challenges, the exercise was continuing properly.
“We couldn’t educate all people by 100 per cent; after all it is impossible to analyse each of the sufficient information found in the application form on TV and radio advertisements,” she noted.
She called upon people not to be afraid of asking questions because those are normal and primary questions that anybody must be aware of them, for instance parents’ names and the year of their birth.
However, she said for those who were not present at their home when the housing registration took place and are not listed in the settlements permanent registration book, they should obtain letters of introduction from their local leaders when going to register.
Recently, before NIDA started to register Dar es Salaam residents for national identification cards at the end of June, the authority called on the public to expose people they suspect to be foreigners in the respective areas.
NIDA Head of Information Thomas William said the exercise would be preceded by preliminary education of people, civil society groups and human rights activists on the importance of the exercise.
National IDs were originally due to have been to be issued on April 26 this year in a pilot project starting with security forces and civil servants living in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and residents of Kilombero, Morogoro Region. But challenges related to forged school certificates and other shortcomings forced the authority to postpone the exercise.