Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein has launched the National Identity registration process in Zanzibar, stating that Zanzibar still faces a big challenge of ghost workers, a major factor in losses of public funds.
The Isles President made these remarks at a public meeting for a national identity card handing over ceremony to top Union and Isles government officials, including ministers and members of the House of Representatives, a few notable individuals and senior retired leaders.
“National identification will expand the scope of revenue collection, improve social security, help to tackle crimes and control salary payments to ghost workers.” Dr Shein told the gathering audience.
According to the President, the latest report in regard to ghost workers by a committee chaired by government auditor Ramadhan Muombwa showed that the government loses about Sh1 billion paying ghost workers, and no one is arrested and brought before the court due to those payments.
Although national identification will help to monitor personal data it will also help in ensuring free and fair elections.
Dr. Shein said that identification cards will help the country to recognise people who get loans and other services from various institutions.
He also told the National Identity Authority (NIDA) management to be keen and maintain discipline, be patriotic and responsible in collecting personal data from citizens.
He asked the public to understand that everyone has the right of getting national identification, in which case people must avoid providing incorrect information in giving personal data for national identity cards.
Dr. Shein sought to ensure his audience that Zanzibar residency identification cards will continue to be used, urging people not to listen to those who say that issuing national identity cards has a political agenda.
In his welcoming remarks, NIDA director general Dickson Maimu stated that NIDA is still facing the challenge of incorrect attachment from the individual person who is information is needed.
Other challenges were information interaction, the threat of unqualified people who need to get the identification, and lack of equipment, human resources and finance.
The NIDA director said that identity cards will help the Zanzibar Election Commission (ZEC) to identify those who participate in voting if they are really Zanzibar residents or citizens. He elaborated that the exercise is meant to ensure that identity cards are used in the next general elections, in 2015.
“Identity cards will also be useful during opinion polling for approving the constitutional review draft, as that exercise will include all citizens,” he stated.
Speaking to this paper soon after launch, some religious leaders lauded the government for the exercise and reminded the public to protect the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar.
Bishop Michael Hafidha of the Anglican Diocese in Zanzibar said the just launched national identity cards will help to control illegal immigration.
"We are late to have national identity cards but the point we have reached now is not bad. It will help to facilitate development in the country,” the bishop observed.
Padre Cosmas Shayo from the Catholic Church Zanzibar Diocese noted that no country in the world has advanced without its people being in possession of national identity cards because identity has a positive impact in providing social services to the community.
On his part the Zanzibar Chief Kadhi, Khamis Haji Khamsi explained that after the launching by the government now the work remains with religious leaders to mobilize their people to participate in the exercise.
Top government officials who were the first to receive national identity cards were President Shein, the Second Vice President Ambassador Seif Ali Idd, the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Gen. Davis Mwamunyange, the Chief Justice Othman Chande, Speaker of House of Representatives Pandu Ameir Kificho and the Zanzibar Chief Justice, Omar Othman Makungu.
Others were the Zanzibar Attorney General Othman Masoud Othman, the Secretary of the Zanzibar Revolutionary Council, Abdulhamid Yahya Mzee, Zanzibar Director of Public Prosecutions Ibrahim Mzee Ibrahim, retired Chief Minister Brigadier-General Ramadhan Haji Faki, retired Home Affair Minister Ali Ameir Mohamed and Mwalimu Nyerere’s widow, Maria Nyerere.