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Better days ahead for ID applicants

Boitumelo Koloi

 

MASERU — The Minister of Home Affairs Joang Molapo says better days lie ahead for people hoping to attain the new national Identity Document (ID) as government plans to decentralise the exercise. Molapo who is also the deputy leader of the Basotho National Party (BNP) — a junior party in the tripartite coalition government — told a rally in Koro-Koro that every Mosotho would be granted the newly introduced document at their convenience.

“Every person in every village will be registered and accordingly given a national ID where they are,” Molapo said. The promise comes just weeks after Molapo made another announcement pledging to lift stringent requirements for the document. The decision to relax the requirements for getting the IDs comes after a public outcry over the stringent rules which many Basotho said had made it “impossible” for them to be registered during the pilot phase of the project which began in July.

On top of the numerous documents which made it almost impossible to own the newly introduced document in the multi-million project, people had to wait lengthy hours in the scotching sun in the capital Maseru before getting service. According to Molapo, registration of births and application for IDs done in the capital city was just a pilot phase of the project, with the real project yet to be rolled out countrywide.

He said there was no reason for everyone to have flocked in Maseru as was the case just to acquire the internationally recognised and security ridden document. “We had started the project as a pilot phase with a specific target in mind (20 000), meant for residents of Maseru, as for everybody else, you just have to relax and wait for the project to come where you are based,” Molapo said.

Molapo said the ministry has already employed additional staff on a part-time basis to house the expected influx of ID applications countrywide. He said the project will be completed in the next two years (by 2016). The pilot phase began in July when the first ID was issued to King Letsie III. The pilot process had been expected to last six months but this was ended after the registration of more than 40 000 people against an initial target of 20 000.

Molapo said the Ministry of Home Affairs had now received money from the Ministry of Finance to embark on the mass registration process though he could not immediately disclose the figure allocated for the mammoth project. Despite the unhappiness of many Basotho who complained that they could not easily register during the pilot phase because of the cumbersome nature of the process, Molapo described the pilot phase as a huge success.

The ID project, expected to cost hun­dreds of millions, is important because it will for the first time provide Basotho with the first common identity system which will facilitate commerce. It has nonetheless been mired in con­troversy beginning with how an Israeli company providing the technology for the project, Nikuv International, won the deal without an open tender amid serious allegations of corruption and bribery.

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