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Government takes ID registration to the people

by Sunday Express
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Boitumelo Koloi

The Minister molapoof Home Affairs Joang Molapo yesterday said by next year, his department would have registered every Mosotho eligible for a national Identity Document (ID).

Molapo boasted such a feat has not even been achieved by the Independent Electoral Commission, which he said has “only been able to register just a little over a million people in the last 16 years”.

Molapo, accompanied by several Home Affairs officials, yesterday took the ID registration exercise to Kolo in Mafeteng district as part of his ministry’s decentralisation exercise.

Up to 534 residents from 38 villages turned-up to register for birth certificates which would enable them to apply for national identity documents.
An upbeat Molapo told the gathering by next year, about 90-percent of Lesotho’s population eligible for an ID would have been issued their identity documents.

Molapo said the current government comprising the All Basotho Convention, Lesotho Congress for Democracy and Basotho National Party, was “far better” than the previous administration led by Dr Pakalitha Mosisili which he said failed “dismally” to deliver services to the people.
He added when the coalition government came into office two years ago, the backlog for passports had breached the half-a-million mark.
Molapo, however, claimed his ministry had since cleared that backlog.

“The past regime was only able to produce just a countrywide total of 9 000 passports in a month, while we are producing over
47 000 units just for the Maseru district within the same period,” he said, adding by going to the masses, his ministry was addressing the people’s primary needs.

“We are even doing a much better job than the IEC that has only been able to register just a little over a million people in the last 16 years while we would have registered
about every Mosotho by next year”, Molapo said.

Most of the villagers who spoke to the Sunday Express yesterday said they were excited about having been spared the notoriously long queues that have come to characterise the registration exercise in places such as Maseru and other urban administration centres.
“I am so excited to have been part of those who benefited in today’s exercise as it has saved me the strain of lengthy queues to get an ID,” said Tšeliso Lesenyeho from Matlokoa.

Since the introduction in July last year of the ID which is linked to the new birth certificate as well as e-passport, Basotho have complained bitterly about the process of acquiring the documents.

To get the latest travel document, one has to first acquire a new birth certificate, then the ID before they can apply for the passport.
Close to 200 000 people have been registered countrywide so far, Molapo said.

According to Molapo, the rate is an international record which has not even been achieved by superpowers such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
“Even economic giants such as the US and the UK have not been able to reach the milestone of registering 10-percent of their entire population within a year,” Molapo said.

Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Kolo constituency, Paul Lehloenya (of the opposition Democratic Congress), praised the government for rolling out the ID and birth registration project for free, which he said was in keeping with the initial plan by the past regime.
“I congratulate them (government) for continuing the project at no cost to the taxpayer just as we had planned it,” Lehloenya said.
The District Manager for the National Identity Civil Registry (NICR) Litšoane Keketsi, on his part, said the 534 who registered in Kolo yesterday represent just a fraction of the area’s residents.


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