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Rush for IDs in Zanzibar

Country Map - Tanzania (Zanzibar) IRIN
A new law requiring national identity cards in order to receive salaries and public services took effect on 1 April on Tanzania's semiautonomous island of Zanzibar, sending residents scrambling for the necessary documentation on Monday. "As from April 1, most of the social services - including civil servants getting their monthly salaries - will have to be with the Zanzibari ID," said Hassan Hajji Wambi, the principal secretary in the ministry of regional administration in Zanzibar. The law, which requires Zanzibaris to be registered and carry the identification, was passed in May 2005. One must be a Tanzanian of Zanzibar origin aged 18 or older or a resident of Zanzibar for at least 10 years. The measure was implemented amid escalating incidents of armed robbery in the island - suspected to be have been committed by non-Zanzibaris - as well as civil service fraud in which the government had lost more than $1 million annually to ghost workers. "Visitors will have to show their stay permits, while non-Zanzibaris from Tanzania mainland staying in Zanzibar will not be bothered, as we prepare special IDs for them," Wambi said. The Zanzibar population is 981,754, according to the latest population census in 2002. Mohammed Ame, director of the Zanzibari registration and ID department, said his office had registered 480,000 Zanzibaris. Some 445,000 had already collected the documentation by 31 March. Although the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) had raised concerns over the identity cards, saying it was a plot to undermine the opposition and favour the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), in the 2005 general elections, the Zanzibar government maintained that the new policy had nothing to do with politics. "The purpose of the having IDs is clear: to identify residents of Zanzibar and provide Zanzibaris with IDs for easy movement within the East African region," Wambi said. He added that the cards would also be useful for security The identification-card project, which started in June 2005, was undertaken by an Israel-US firm, Super Com, at the cost of about $2 million.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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