The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration has run out of Virgin Identity (ID) cards, resulting in a number of applicants having to wait for over four months to receive their national identity documents.
A senior official in the ministry told the Windhoek Observer this week that they have been struggling to fix the problem, after the division responsible for ordering the blanks from Germany failed to do so.
The virgin IDs are usually ordered well in advance as they take time to be delivered, but this has not happened since end of last year, causing a major backlog and uncertainty mostly among Grade 10 students who need IDs to register for their final examinations.
Before the latest setback, it took about two weeks for an individual to apply and receive an ID following the introduction of a turnaround strategy by the ministry in 2014.
It is alleged that management had a meeting this week where it was emphasized that the current backlog must be kept away from the media.
The source accused Ministry Permanent Secretary, Patrick Nandago, who is supposed to oversee the ministry’s administration, for sleeping on the job.
He claimed that there have been many mistakes happening under Nandago’s watch, causing friction between staff.
“Young people are just coming and filling in the forms, but have to wait for a very long time to receive their IDs,” the source said, emphasizing that the shortage was not caused by the financial squeeze currently being experienced in government, but due to human error.
Responding to the allegations, Nandago said any claims of his incompetency and friction were the imagination of the Windhoek Observer source.
“I don’t know what that person is talking about. I am not running the ministry alone. There is nothing like friction in that directorate as far as I know. Everything is functioning normally. There are only two directors in that directorate and we meet twice a week and none of them brought any issue related to friction to my attention.
“Of course there are challenges just like in any other institutions, but they have been overcome. As for the system itself, we are dealing with different equipment and sometimes they malfunction. There are times when they cannot produce at full capacity, but they have been working. We have virgin IDs, they are there, and everything is back to normal. We never stopped,” Nandago said.
Home Affairs Deputy Minister, Maureen Hinda, confirmed the problem with the issuing of IDs, but attributed it to an ‘equipment issue’.
“Yes there was a delay because of a technical issue thus the speed of production was interrupted. It was merely an equipment issue. They used different equipment. However, this has been fixed. We are currently working on the backlog. I remember it was also reported in our management meeting that there was a delay. We will make sure the backlog is covered so that we normalise and get back to the timelines we have given,” Hinda said.
The Ministry of Education Arts and Culture said they have not received any notifications about the problem from home affairs.
Ministry spokesperson, Absalom Absalom, said registration for the Grade 10 final examinations had already passed, but the ministry was working towards extending it after several requests from schools and learners.
“I know that there have been requests to extend the deadline, but I am not certain as to reasons,” Absalom said.
Home Affairs introduced a turnaround strategy in 2014 after a public outcry over its relaxed service delivery.
The strategy was meant to transform the ministry into a highly effective organisation with faster turnaround times, effective systems, shorter queues, efficient offices and improved customer service.
The ministry also introduced a queue management system at head office with a view to further improve customer care services, time and counter efficiency.
Furthermore, a sustainable monitoring team was established within the regions to ensure the improvement initiative and high operating standard are maintained at all the ministry’s offices in Windhoek and outside the city.
A business improvement staff team was embedded into the rollout teams to retain the knowledge transferred and act as changes champions at each office