Vice President Nickey Iyambo has labeled Namibian fathers who run away from their fatherhood responsibilities cowards. He said many children grow up without the presence of their fathers, simply because the men desert and run away from their mothers before the children are even born.
“Fathers are cowards. They run away. Yes, it’s a fact they are runners. Things are only good, but when the birth comes they run,” he remarked on Wednesday during the three-day ID4Africa 3rd annual conference on Government Forum on Electronic Identity in Africa held in Windhoek.
ID4Africa aims to help governments and development organisations understand the social economic impact of identity systems, assess the current state of affairs of the identity ecosystems in Africa. Further, it aims to identify opportunities for engagement and collaboration and transfer of experiences to build capacity, while getting exposure to the latest industrial capabilities offered by the world technology and solution leaders.
Scenarios of mothers ending up as single parents saw the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana urging parents, particularly fathers, to name their offspring before they are born to enable delivering mothers to register their children at birth.
She said pre-birth naming is necessary to ensure that absent fathers do not hinder babies from being registered at birth, thus subsequently denying them a chance to acquire national documents.
Moreover, Iyambo expressed concern that many Namibians ended up with national documents that do not bear their real age due to colonial era practices – a situation that deprives many of their benefits, such as pension social grants.
However, he said in the past 10 years, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration has made great strides to ensure timeous and accurate registration of all citizens’, despite the problems posed by the legacy of the discriminatory colonial civil registration system.
One of the major accomplishments, he singled out is the digitalised national population register, which is fully integrated, combining the birth register, identification register, marriage register and death register under one profile.
“This service is available online and ensures that all birth and death applications are verified on the spot and certificates issued immediately,” Iyambo noted.
He said the ministry’s efforts are within the purview of the 2005 e-government policy and the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) to provide e-government services to all citizens by 2020.
The overall intent, he says, is to improve service delivery, accountability and transparency to become an industrialised economy and knowledge-based society.
To achieve the HPP’s e-governance policy objectives, Iyambo said Namibia will need to establish a unique universally verifiable electronic identity portfolio and also expand its National Population Registration System (NPRS).
This, according to him, will allow for electronic transactions, interoperability between different governmental institutions, identity verification, data exchange, and improved rollout of social protection programmes.
Additionally, he said such advanced IT capabilities will enable government institutions to accurately verify their identity data against what is contained in the NPRS, thereby preventing fraudulent identity portfolios.
“Hence, Namibia’s readiness to create legal electronic identities was assessed through its Namibian Civil Registration System in 2016 by the World Bank, which made specific recommendations on the way forward,” he noted.
He said the relevant ministries will this year commence with stakeholder consultations to work out a suitable implementation plan by 2018.
Iyambo reiterated government’s commitment that no stone should be left unturned in the quest to ensure that all Namibian citizens, including those living in the most remote parts of the country, are registered to access and exercise all their citizenship rights in a free and independent Namibia.
On his part, ID4Africa executive chairman Joseph Atick said African government attendance has doubled from last year, with over 90 percent of the delegates nominated by their governments.