HOME Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo has described as propaganda a picture circulating on social media depicting children as having just obtained National Registration Cards (NRCs).

And Kampyongo says government has yet again extended the first phase of the mobile issuance of NRCs by another 10 days to allow as many people as possible to register.

Speaking at a briefing in Kasama, Wednesday, Kampyongo dismissed a photo which went viral on social media illustrating children as having obtained NRCs, saying it was propaganda given the lack of formal identification linking the cards to the respective holder.

He, however, called on Zambians to report acts of illegaties pertaining to the issuance of NRCs to relevant authorities.

“With regards to the pictures, yes, I have seen the pictures that are circulating. But I want to make it very clear that we are not going to be derailed by those who have opted to embark on propaganda because you and I are unable to see exactly whether those children holding the NRCs are actually the people on the NRCs. So, if some elders decide to go and parade kids on the ground for their mischievous reasons and give them NRCs belonging to elders to hold and you can see the interest in children, those of you who can analyse those pictures. So, that type of propaganda is what we expect you from the media to discourage because this is a very important undertaking, we are registering citizens and documenting them,” Kampyongo said.

“So, it won’t pay anyone to trivialise to that extent, but, indeed, if that was the case, there are procedures that are setup and that individual whoever it was, whether they are many who paraded the kids, what they should have done was to get those kids and take them to the necessary authorities. That is what a responsible Zambian should do; you don’t get anything so you parade them and then you circulate the pictures. So, we are determined to execute this mandate as provided for by the law. My plea is to all patriotic Zambians, where they find such omissions, to report to the relevant authorities.”

Kampyongo stressed that no foreigners were being issued with NRCs during the ongoing registration process.

“Alleged foreigners, who would be taking advantage of the exercise to register as Zambians, that is a criminal offence. That is the reason why if you have seen the composition of the teams that we have sent on the ground you will find that, deliberately, we have put immigration officers, police officers to be part of the teams. So, that is to ensure that those who would want to take advantage of the exercise to register when they are not eligible are dealt with. You know that we are bordering with so many countries around us and there are some areas where extended families live on either side of the border; if you go to Luapula, if you go to North-Western Province, that is the case. But officers have been oriented, even when there is that scenario to avoid people who are not eligible to get registered as Zambians,” Kampyongo said.

“So, my plea, again, to patriotic Zambians is to ensure that where they see those undesirable elements, either being supported by our fellow Zambians to register, they must be reported. Many others who would want to attempt to get registered will be dealt with in the confines of the law. So, our law enforcement officers are very alert to that effect.”

And Kampyongo announced that government had extended the mobile issuance of NRCs for the first phase by another 10 more days to ensure that no one was left out of the process.

“You will recall that on the 28th August, this year, 2020, I informed the nation that the commencement of the second phase of the mobile registration exercise from 1st to the 10th of September, 2020, to allow for the smooth running of the exercise. My statement was to mean that the second phase has been postponed, I want to correct this impression by clarifying that this was not a postponement, but a move to ensure smooth operations for phase one and phase two and avoid the overlap of phase one into phase two. Both phases were allocated 40 days each to ensure that all persons eligible are afforded equal and adequate time to access the national registration exercise,” Kampyongo explained.

“In all the affected provinces, stakeholders have appealed for an extension as many eligible citizens will be deprived of the opportunity to obtain National Registration Cards if we closed as planned. Meaning, today, all the teams should have been pulling out from the areas where we have assigned them. In this regard, to compensate for the lost time in the first phase, government has, therefore, decided to extend phase one by 10 days. The exercise will now run up to 19th September, 2020. This has been done after thorough consultation with various stakeholders. My Ministry has a responsibility that both phase one and phase two of the exercise are smooth, this, therefore, means that phase two will now commerce on the 19th of September, 2020, and will also run for 40 days as planned.”

He also expressed confidence that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) would make adjustments to the Voters’ Registration exercise, which was expected to commence next month.

“Consultations have been going on between the Department of National Registration, Passport and Citizenship, together with the Electoral Commission of Zambia, and I am sure in due course they’ll make a pronouncement on how they will make adjustments to suit this extension that we have officially announced. Like I mentioned, this decision was arrived at after consultations, which also included consultations with the Electoral Commission of Zambia. So, they are very much aware of this extension and we will hear from them, officially, on how they are going to adjust to suit our calendar,” said Kampyongo.