DRC: Many Congolese will still have to wait for their identity card

DRC: Many Congolese will still have to wait for their identity card

Without identification, civil servants struggle to withdraw their salaries from bank counters.

The Minister of the Interior of the resigned government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Peter Kazadi, promised on March 20, the Congolese will soon receive their identity cards. A sesame promised for almost forty years by successive governments and which should finally become a reality.

“We’re looking forward to it,” explains Jean-Baptiste, teacher in Kinshasa. Like most civil servants and even many employees, his salaries are paid directly into his bank account. “This banking system was presented to us as a guarantee of receiving our money on time and being able to dispose of it easily. However, for weeks now, I have had to make do with the denominations that I can withdraw from the ATM (cash machine). Indeed, the bankers, meme, if they know me, refuse to give me money at the counter because my only identity document is the voter card obtained during my registration for the presidential election last December. But these cards are of very poor quality and most of the data written on this card has become unreadable. I'm not even talking to you about the photo. It is really urgent to receive the new identity card that we have been promised for almost a year now. since Félix Tshisekedi received the first copy on June 30.

Peter Kazadi, the Minister of the Interior, announced sustained distribution from May. A declaration made upon receipt of containers of material which should enable the production of identity cards for the 24 municipalities of Kinshasa.

Onip in the viewfinder…

But many Congolese are doubtful. “We have lots of announcements. The identity card, on the other hand, only the President of the Republic, members of his family and a few personalities received it and I have difficulty seeing on the basis of which file, my future card could be produced,” explains our interlocutor from Kinshasa which points to the responsibility of the political world, but also of the National Population Identification Office (Onip) and the private company Afritech/Idemia which obtained the contract for the production and delivery of this sesame. A contract in which the General Inspectorate of Finance (IGF) is now interested. “The contract is very nebulous”, explains a source in Kinshasa. And very interesting for Mr. Samba bathily, the Malian at the head of the company Afritech/Idemia, who is now asked not to leave the territory of the DRC pending the end of the IGF investigation.

The value of the contract for the manufacture of the cards would be one billion dollars and Afritech/Idemia should receive for 20 years a third of all revenues generated by the distribution of these identity cards. A contract whose terms, presented as very “cryptic”, are now scrutinized.

The Ceni too

To produce these cards, the service provider obviously needs a file containing the necessary information for each Congolese. “But this file with this information does not exist or is, at best, very fragmentary”, explains a diplomatic source who recalls that there is no “no service to the population for ages in this immense country. The data was to be obtained during voter registration for last December's elections. During this registration, voters had to fill out a form, part of which concerned the elections to obtain the voter's card, a second part was to be used to create the file which would allow the production of the identity card. The idea, quite intelligent, was to pool efforts between Ceni and Onip. continues our interlocutor who closely followed the registration of voters in Kinshasa and who noted that “lack of time, motivation” most Congolese did not complete the second part. The work will therefore have to be started again. The vast majority of Congolese will therefore have to re-register, which will obviously cause unforeseen costs and will delay the production of identity cards. The Congolese will therefore have to be patient. “The minister spoke of the month of May, without giving the year”concludes, mockingly, the Congolese official.

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