Worries raised by the new ID

Some questions on the application form raise worries. Many people think that it is a privacy invasion despite the government’s attempt to calm down the population. Edouard Madirisha translated by Yves Didier Irakoze.

 Registration is carried out with modern technology.©Iwacu

Registration is carried out with modern technology.©Iwacu

Before filling in this application form, some questions are quite strange because unfamiliar to have this identity card. There are such questions like the card number of medical insurance, Social Security National Institute (INSS) membership, civil servants, police, and militaries. More surprisingly, not to say clumsily, the application form asks a proof of a land or building possession and the bank account number. The questions are also about the number of the driving license, voting card and passport. That’s not all, because this application form also investigates on the geographical code of the place of birth and criminal history or incurred penalties. Not only those questions to get the new biometric identity card are strange, but also they are worrying to a number of applicants in Bujumbura City Council. The main complaint is that the application form to be completed contains data that create confusion and features of private life. So, many are reluctant to go for registration: “Why do they want to know our bank account number? If this one appears on the new identity card, it will be the first time in the world,” indicates a civil servant on leave met at Ngagara Commune offices. “If they ask us the proof of land possession or building, it’s not of course for our benefit. The National Commission on Land and other Assets (CNTB) could be concerned,” doubts a businessman met at the same place.

The ministry reassures

“In the tension and confusion context that we live in our country, any approach that would raise other questions risk to worsen the situation,” states Vital Nshimirimana, Chairman of the Civil Society Reinforcement Forum (FORSC). However, the Ministry of Home Affairs tries to reassure the population. Evariste Sabiyumva, Assistant to the Ministry indicates that there is no obligation of providing the required information during the registration to get the new card. For him, after sensitization, everyone will understand the reason of providing all those details. But Léonce Ngendakumana, Chairman of the Alliance for Democracy and Change (ADC-Ikibiri), remains skeptical. For him, this new card wouldn’t actually be feasible in less than one year before the elections, because it hasn’t been explained enough to the population. “They both want to respect the market and cheat the next elections,” he insists. At Ngagara, the registration for the new biometric identity card is done in the commune offices. In front of them, applicants sit on a bench to wait for their turn. Three agents are standing near the offices asking people where they live, before handing them the applicant form to fill in. The machine takes the applicants’ digital fingerprints before their pictures are taken.

Possible cases of cheating

A Chief Officer of one of Ngagara areas fears however some possible cases of cheating. He underlines that the registration agents to obtain this new ID don’t seek to know if those who come to register are really from Ngagara or Burundians. What is not normal, he adds, those people may not even be the natives or inhabitants of the commune? For this Chief Officer, the local administration authority should have been involved. According to Désiré Gahungu, Ngagara Commune Administrator, they wanted the registration to be done by Ngagara natives, but the Ministry of Local Affairs responded that it was a national program. He points out that they can’t refuse the registration to a person because he is not from Ngagara. “Concerning foreigners living at Ngagara, they are very few and known. But in case of doubt on physical appearance or language, verifications are undertaken by the nearest local administration,” indicates Gahungu.