We wouldn’t want to charge any particular individuals, institutions or organisations with attempting to sabotage the process expected to lead to the smooth issuance of the long-awaited national identity cards.
Thus is because we know there are specific agencies and agents one of whose responsibilities is to deal with such improper practices – of course, with wananchi readily available to extend support as necessary or appropriate.
However, circumstances have compelled us to react to reports of unscrupulous elements within the ranks of the Police and the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces having acted in a manner that has forced the rescheduling of the said IDs.
We held our breath in disbelief as reports spread of National Identification Authority director general Dickson Mwaimu having revealed that dishonest members of the two security organs were associated with actions hindering the smooth implementation of the IDs project.
Mwaimu talked of officials from his agency having come across a string of anomalies while screening school certificates tendered as one of the requirements of the issuance of the IDs.
Giving an example, he said the certificates of 248 soldiers and 700 police officers were submitted more than once – by different persons – which effectively amounted to forgery, and hence NIDA’s decision to reschedule the issuance of the IDs.
For the benefit of those not in the know: NIDA is responsible for providing secured and nationally and internationally recognised IDs to Tanzanians and eligible residents of Tanzania who are non-citizens, among them refugees, as well as manage an ID database for purposes of consolidating the security and peace prevailing in the country.
It is also worth noting that the issuance of the cards was to have started on April 26 on a pilot basis, the first recipients including civil servants and members of the security forces living in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, but was postponed owing to challenges such as rampant forgery of certificates.
NIDA has long and repeatedly declared that, while it was quite possible to process and issue national IDs within a short time, the whole issue was so delicate and sensitive that any rush would spell disaster. The mess they have come across has fully vindicated them.
But their findings should not be the end of the story because those the saga revolves around have so much to do with efforts to consolidate the peace and security our country enjoys and cherishes. That’s why we applaud the resolve by the two security agencies to sweep their tanks clean of any elements linked to the IDs scandal.
The Home Affairs ministry; Tanzania Revenue Authority; Registration, Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency; National Electoral Commission; Higher Education Students Loans Board; National Bureau of Statistics; Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority; and Tanzania Investment Centre are among the major stakeholders in the national IDs project.
They are also the very ones the project is expected to benefit most, though the entire nation is supposed to gain, and this explains the jealousy with which Tanzanians are supposed to guard the process.
We therefore salute NIDA and the two security organs for the vigilance, promptness and patriotism with which they have moved in seeking to guarantee the nation smooth issuance of the all-important IDs.