By Sinkamba Peter

Zambian is implementing its Integrated National Registration Information System (INRIS). This is a form of a national identity management system with enhanced biometric digital security features for national registration cards, as well as birth and death certificates.

INRIS is intended to replace the 1965 issuance system of national registration cards to citizens aged 16 years and above using a manual and paper based system. Since 1965, the manual and paper based system has not changed despite it being susceptible to fraud and other abuses. Among main concerns, the manual based system lacks the mechanisms to prevent foreigners from registering as Zambians, especially in border areas becausec Registration officers depend solely on affidavits to register a person.

The INRIS, however, will assign a national identity number at birth as opposed to when a person is 16 years old. This is one of key aspects of the new system that will make it very difficult for an ineligible person to register as a Zambian citizen.

As the Green Party, we support the rolling up of the IRNS system because it will surely address several challenges of the 1965 system such as population growth and sophistication in technology. The new system will eliminate duplication of national registration card numbers, identity theft and other challenges in national record management.

We also support the new system because it will also eliminate fraud in provision of wider services beyond the issuance of biometric enabled digital national identity cards and civil registration. The new system will also eliminate massive fraud in voters’ card acquisition, provision of social cash transfer, FISP access, and delivery of other social services to ineligible persons.

Whilst we applaud government that the INRIS system development has been completed and hardware connectivity set up, we are very concerned that the system has only been deployed in a paltry 10 out of 116 districts in the country. We are also concerned that even in the districts where the system has been deployed, the success rate is below par, especially with regard to replacement of the 1965 system cards. We are further concerned they system may be used in the 2026 elections, and that could create acrimonous environment in the nation.

In view of the foregoing, the Green Party plans to facilitate an inter-party and inter-agency conference, to review the success rate of the rollout of the new system. We hope that the review will help the Nation to collectively devise a strategy that will effectively accelerate the implementation. We are targeting 90% success rate by 2026

We hope to facilitate the conference in the first quarter of 2024.

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