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Balaka, The National Registration Bureau (NRB) mass registration exercise currently underway in some districts of the country, is reported to be on a standstill in Balaka as some registration officers were closing centres without authority.

A survey by the Malawi News Agency (MANA) in 15 registration centers in Balaka has shown that registration officers were closing centres claiming to have finished registration, amidst fear that they will not be deployed to the northern region.

Mana has also learnt that some Registration Officers were sending wrong figures to the Assistant District Registrar indicating that they had met their target but that the numbers were different from the actual numbers the computer captured.

Random interviews Mana conducted with several Registration Officers established that the National Registration Bureau issued an SMS to the Registration Officers that as the registration will be going into phase five to cover the Northern region, some employees would not be taken on board.

We received a text message that some of us will be left behind in the upcoming phase which will see some of the officers proceeding to the north while others will be left behind due to the fact that the Northern region is small, the source who sought anonymity said.

The SMS stipulated that those who will be taken on board to the north will be on first come first served which means those who will finish first are the ones who will be accommodated in the fifth phase, she added.

According to the officers, the SMS has brought fear among the registration officers since everyone would like to be part of the team that will proceed to the north, adding that the development has led to some officers working even at night in order to catch up with time.

Balaka District Assistant Registrar, John Chilenga admitted that the SMS was indeed sent to the registration officers. However, he was quick to condemn the behaviour of the officers for closing centres without consent from authorities.

The SMS in question was really circulated but that cannot be the justification for the registration officers to be doing substandard work in order to secure themselves a place in the northern region phase, Chilenga said.

I am receiving messages with promising figures every day from registration officers that they have finished registration. But when these numbers are verified with what the system has captured, it is showing that the registration officers are over reporting, Chilenga lamented.

Oh his part, NRB Public Relations Officer, Norman Fulatira said the Bureau would only close centres which satisfactorily completed the registration exercise.

An assessment by the district registration taskforce in collaboration with community leaders will only be the tool to determine the closure of a centre, Fulatira said.

The Malawi National Registration Bureau is conducting a mass registration campaign countrywide that will see Malawians getting a National Identity Card which will enable only bonafide citizens have access to various social services.

Source: Malawi News Agency � MANA