By Anna Shilongo
The Minister of Home Affairs has pledged a reduction in long queues at the ministry’s office with the ongoing improvement of service.
Uncollected ID cards and other national documents have also been sent to their owners after years of collecting dust at the ministry.
The ministry is responding to a call by the Head of State, that of delivering service where it is most needed, in order to address poverty, unemployment, inequality, lack of access to essential services and thereby to facilitate economic growth.
The ministry also adopted an institutional vision of becoming the “leading Namibian institution in efficiency, effectiveness and accountability in service delivery.”
To boost its service delivery, the ministry recently acquired 10 vehicles, (4 trucks and 6 minibuses) to be used as mobile registration units.
The mobile units are fully equipped with modern technology to conduct mobile registration for birth certificates and identity cards in the field. Data would be downloaded on a regular basis at the ministry’s head office, where the ID cards would be printed within a reasonable time.
The four trucks will be allocated to Omaheke, Kunene, Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Kavango regions, while the minibuses will be allocated to Khomas, Karas, Caprivi, Hardap, Erongo and Otjozondjupa regions.
The remaining minibus will be allocated to the National Forensic Science Insitutitute to serve as a mobile laboratory.
However, the allocation of these vehicles to the regions is not a permanent one, as they will be rotated from one region to another at any time as the need arises.
Officially launching the Mobile Office Initiative, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Libertina Amathila congratulated the ministry for a speedy and effective turnaround strategy.
“I can assure you the public perception about the ministry has changed for the better. It is no wonder the ministry has been awarded various Performances Management Review accolades over the past two years, in recognition for excellent service delivery,” said Amathila.
Some of the notable achievements of the ministry since 2005 have been to reduce the waiting period for IDs, which used to be 724 days but is now 24 days.
The waiting period for passports has also been reduced from 100 to 10 days.
“My work experience with this ministry has been rewarded. For instance, when Cabinet gave me the responsibility to lead a socio-economic development programme for the San people, we realised that many San people did not have national documents,” said the deputy PM.
As a result, she said, these people could not be registered for social grants and pensions provided by the Government, nor could they exercise their democratic right to vote.
“The ministry responded to my call to register the various San communities throughout Namibia. They set up mobile teams to register all San groups, providing them with birth certificates and identification documents.”
Today, San children can go to school, they can access social grants and pensions, and even open up bank accounts.
Amathila said in due course she would request the ministry to register about 250 San communities at Farm Uitkoms who still need national documents.
“Our people need not to travel long distances to regional offices for these services anymore. I am informed that the mobile has the potential to capture accurate information of the applicants in the field,” she said confidently.
The ministry is also investigating the introduction of door-to-door service delivery.
Amathila called on the private sector, civil society and other government institutions to emulate the ministry’s efforts.
Home Affairs and Immigration Minister Rosalia Nghidinwa was positive that a lot would be achieved through these mobile offices.
She requested regional governors, councillors, headmen and other community leaders where these vehicles will be deployed to keep a close eye on them and at the same time ensure that they serve their intended purpose.
Meanwhile, the ministry also took time to express disappointment with people who are vocal in criticising her ministry for being slow but yet they do not come to collect their documents from the ministry.
“Our shelves and drawers are full of uncollected IDs and passports. It is on this basis that I am calling on the public to collect their documents from the ministry’s offices countrywide.”
Nghidinwa also noted that her ministry is in the process of automating the country’s population records such as birth, marriage and death records.
Once these records are automated, she was confident that her ministry would be able to keep track of exact numbers of children born, people married, deaths, as well as how many people turned 16.
The population registry is used to assist Government in formulating development plans, especially the Central Bureau of Statistics.
This will help Namibia move at a quicker pace towards the full realisation of both NDP 3 and Vision 2030.
The initiative is also within the framework to implement government programmes as stipulated in the Swapo Party Election Manifesto, said Miinister Nghidinwa.