By Emma Kakololo WINDHOEK The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) yesterday donated 70 computers worth half a million dollars to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration (MHAI) as a gesture of cooperation and a starting point for systematic integration. The computers have a value of N$547 826. A few years from now, the electorate is expected to assemble at the polls for the National and Presidential elections due in 2009. Also for the first time in history, the ECN was able to introduce a computerised voters’ register at some polling stations during the 2004 elections though other stations had to contend with the manual system due to shortage of computers. “These computers will not benefit the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration alone but would greatly benefit the ECN through the establishment of a direct data link with the Ministry of Home Affairs… We believe this effort will enable the Ministry of Home Affairs to expedite the process of issuing important national documents,” said Victor Tonchi, the chairperson of the ECN. “As most of you would know, the process of deleting the deceased from the voters’ roll is currently being done manually. This may not augur well towards Government efforts on efficient use of time and resources,” he noted. With this material support, the ECN would be able to download data on deaths from the national register at the ministry directly onto the Voter Registration database. Tonchi said the ECN would also work in close collaboration with Home Affairs to ensure that the voters are registered at the age of 17, so that by the time they turn 18, they could be placed on the voters’ roll and issued with a voter’s card. “We are confident that once the system is fully integrated and functioning, such an arrangement can be operationalised,” he stated. Thrilled about the donation, Permanent Secretary of MHAI Samuel //Goagoseb said ECN’s gesture was a step forward in the implementation of Vision 2030, which also calls for greater integration and coordinated effort in the planning and implementation of all the programmes of Government. “It is recognised in the Vision that Government alone cannot be held responsible for development. Therefore, partnerships are needed not only between public institutions, but it calls for public-private partnerships and greater participation of non-governmental organisations and the public at large in the development process,” said the PS. He revealed that the ministry last June conducted a critical analysis of all production processes of each and every production line to identify the exact points where the computers would be located. “These computers will assist the ministry to automate all records, e.g. births, deaths, marriages, change of name, permits. The benefits accrued from such automation are manifold. It will allow greater integration and availability of real time statistical data and assist the government in accurately allocating resources for development planning throughout the country,” he stressed. //Goagoseb also made the assurance that with the automation process, the ministry would be able to reduce the waiting period for Ids from the current 724 days to 24 days, and for passports from three months to merely 10 days.
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