Tuesday, 19 January, 2021

Malawi: National Registration Bureau Refuses to Hand Over Database For Auditing

Lilongwe — The National Registration Bureau (NRB) says it will not hand over their national registration database for auditing as per Malawi Congress Party’s request.

Speaking in Lilongwe on Tuesday during a press briefing that was held in collaboration with Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), NRB Chief Director, Mcford Somanje said doing so would be contrary to the Law.

“NRB is a government entity and all government institutions are not audited by a non authorised private firm or person,” Somanje said.

He said the procedure for government department audit is that the National Audit Office conducts an audit on systems as well as processes and procedures for NRB.

“When that is done, they are supposed to submit the report to the Public Accounts Committee (of Parliament) and it is the duty of the Public Accounts Committee to scrutinise the recommendations done by the audit office,” he added.

He further said the National Audit Office may appoint a private certified IT auditor to do an IT audit of the government department.

“When that is done, NRB will not have a problem because it is a recommendation by the people who are charged with the duty to audit a government institution but to let MCP do an audit of a national register is not acceptable,” he said.

He further said he was of the view that the Information Communication Technology (ICT) Association of Malawi has made a recommendation through a press statement that the NRB data must be audited by a private firm.

“Our response is that the Data Protection Act does not allow private individuals to look into the national register, hence we will not allow our laws to be broken.

“The only people that can access the data are the ones that have been mandated by the law, as such NRB will make sure that they do not allow the data to be available to people who are not mandated,” he said.

In his remarks, MEC Director of Information and Communication Technology Muhabi Chisi said the commission welcomes any voice of reason whose aim is to achieve an even and cleaner voter register for purposes of elections in Malawi.

“However, any queries and suggestions should be addressed to relevant authorities for clarification before alarming stakeholders unnecessarily,” Chisi said.

He said there is no such thing as a perfect system, as such, there may be problems here and there which may not be significant enough to affect the voting process.

Recently, MCP claimed there were a number of irregularities in the NRB system, including registration of the under-age children and others, which the party claimed were designed to rig the July 2 fresh presidential election.

Meanwhile, MEC will use the 2019 general election voter register for the July 2 fresh presidential election as per recent Supreme Court of Appeal’s ruling on the presidential election appeal case.

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