Windhoek-Cabinet has approved the extension of the phasing out of the old South West African identity document from March 31, 2017 to March 31, 2018, Home Affairs and Immigration Minister Pendukeni Iivula-ithana announced on Tuesday.
Speaking in the National Assembly, Iivula-Ithana said this was necessitated by the fact that most SWA ID holders are pensioners who are challenged to reach the ministry’s offices.
“Due to financial constraints the ministry has not been able to conduct mobile registration programmes, hence a large number of people, mostly pensioners, are still in possession of the SWA ID and might have their pension stopped if the SWA ID is phased out before they are in possession of the Namibian national ID,” she said.
Furthermore, she said the ministry has taken note of the financial challenges experienced by citizens who are expected to correct particulars of their identity on their birth record and SWA ID record.
This, she said, led to the ministry requesting Cabinet approval for the waiving of financial implications related to changes of particulars incidental to the phasing out of the SWA ID in respect of pensioners and other vulnerable people.
In May last year Cabinet approved the phasing out of the SWA ID by March 31 this year. The purpose of the phasing out is to adapt to international best practices that only one legal identity card be in use within a given national territory, ensuring that each citizen only has one identity card and ID number.
During the past year, Iivula-Ithana said, the ministry discovered that a considerable number of citizens use their SWA ID and their new Namibian ID interchangeably, while other citizens have a mismatch between their identity on their birth record and SWA ID record.
According to Iivula-Ithana the ministry is now planning to conduct mobile registration programmes to reach out to communities in far rural areas.
She said that following the announcement of the phasing out of the SWA ID last year 4 378 people have converted their SWA ID to the Namibian ID. During the same time the ministry has corrected more than 2 000 birth records with mismatches between the birth record and the SWA ID record, she said.
Iivula-Ithana said this is a very slight number in comparison to the expected 7 000 people anticipated to be in possession of the SWA ID.
Furthermore, Iivula-Ithana said the issue of citizenship for Angolans who entered Namibia between January 1, 1978 and March 20, 1990 remains unresolved.
She said a draft bill for this particular group of people is currently being discussed between the Office of the Attorney General and the ministry.
“Phasing out the SWA ID before their plight is resolved will leave them stateless,” she said, adding that the bill would not become law before March 31, “therefore we would like to afford this category of persons ample time to get their documents in order”.