Vice-President Nicky Iyambo has labelled Namibian fathers who run away from their fatherhood responsibilities as cowards.
He said many children grow up without the presence of their father simply because the father deserts the mother before the child is even born.
“Fathers are cowards. They run away, yes, it’s a fact they are runners. Things are good but when the birth comes, they run,” he remarked yesterday during the three-day IDAfrica 3rd annual conference on a government forum on electronic identity in Africa, held in Windhoek.
IDAfrica aims to help governments and development organisations understand the social-economic impact of identity systems and assess the current state of affairs of the identity ecosystems in Africa. Further, it aims to identify opportunities for engagement and collaboration, transfer the experiences of others and build capacity, all the while getting exposure to the latest industrial capabilities presented by world technology and solution leaders.
Scenarios of mothers ending up as single parents saw the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, urge parents, particularly fathers, to name their babies before they are born to enable delivering mothers to register their children at birth.
She said pre-birth naming is also necessary to ensure that absent fathers do not hinder babies from being registered at birth and subsequently deny them a chance of acquiring national documents.
Iyambo also expressed concern that many Namibians ended up with national documents that do not bear their real age due to the colonial apartheid era – a situation that deprives many of them of their benefits such as pension and social grants.
However, he said that in the past 10 years the ministry of home affairs has made great strides to ensure timeous and accurate registration of all citizens’ identities, despite the problems posed by the legacy of the colonial-discrimination civil registration system.
One of the major accomplishments, he singled out, is the digitalized 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 preview of the government’s 2005 e-governance policy and 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 towards an industrialised economy and knowledge 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, inter-operability between different governmental institutions, identity verification, data exchange, and roll-out of social protection programmes.
Additionally, he said, such unique IT 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 would this year commence with stakeholder consultations to work out a suitable implementation plan by 2018.
Iyambo said it is government’s commitment that no stone should be left unturned in the quest to ensure that all Namibian citizens, including those staying 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, IDAfrica executive chairman Joseph Atick said African government attendance has doubled from last year, with over 90 percent of delegates being nominated by their governments.