Home Affairs impresses Malawian delegation

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pretoria - A Malawian delegation has praised the Department of Home Affairs, saying it had learned a number of important lessons from South Africa's national registration systems.

Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma met with the delegation on Friday.

Nicholas Dausi, the Deputy Presidential Affairs Minister in Malawian President Bingu Mutharika's office, led the delegation, which is in the country on an official United Nations Children Fund visit.

The bilateral discussions focused on the issuing of identity documents, immigration services and the implementation of an on-line birth registry. Also up for discussion was the registration of marriages and deaths.

Dausi said his delegation had visited hospitals, Home Affairs offices and had even been lectured on the way civic registration was done in South Africa.

He was hugely impressed at the level of sophistication at which the department operated and the high skills level among staff.

"We will definitely implement in Malawi what we have learnt here," Dausi added.

The proper registration of a country's citizens was critical when it came to planning how to deploy resources and meet the needs of people, Dlamini Zuma said.

The department had prioritised birth registration and is in the process of popularising the law that require babies to be registered within 30 days after birth.

The minister noted that most babies were only registered within a year of their births but in recent months, that had changed with about 50 percent being registered within 30 days.

Government's ultimate goal is to push those figures up to a point where all babies are registered with department within 30 days of their birth.

In order to speed up this process, the department has linked up with hospitals so that mothers can register their newborns before taking them home.

Mobile offices were also visiting rural areas to ensure that babies there were also registered.

Proper civic registration was not just about recording births, but was also vital for the security of a country, Dlamini Zuma noted.

"It will ensure that there is only one entry point - at birth - into our population register. It will improve the integrity of our population register and also improve immigration issues," the minister said.

Civic registration was extremely important to the Southern African Development Community region if free movement of people and goods was to be implemented, she added.

Dlamini Zuma expressed her department's willingness to assist her Malawian counterparts, adding that the bilateral exchange should not be a once-off.