Zimbabwean officials warned to register biometrics or lose pay

By on 16/02/2020
Civil servants have until February 28th to comply with the government’s order to register their biometric details. Image of Harare by Toubibe via Pixabay

Civil servants in Zimbabwe have until the end of the month to register their biometric details or risk losing their pay, the government has said.

In a statement released earlier this week, Public Service Commission (PSC) secretary ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe said: “The authentication process requires that every member on the payroll has biometric attributes in the Registrar General’s database.”

It warned that “all members who remain non-compliant as at 28 February 2020 will be struck off the payroll,” ZimEye reported.

The biometric registration scheme, which captures the fingerprints, DNA, iris and retina patterns of every official within government, was first announced at the end of 2018. Finance and economic development Mthuli Ncube told parliament it was needed to weed out the existence of public sector “ghost workers”. Previous civil service audits “point to possible existence of ghost workers in the service, who are contributing to the burgeoning public service wage bill,” Ncube said.

Ghost busters

All public service employees on the Salary Service Bureau (SSB) payroll were first requested to complete biometric registration between August and September last year. The deadline was extended until the end of October 2019, before this further – and supposedly final – deadline of February 28 2020 was issued.

“The authentication process requires that every member on the payroll has biometric attributes in the Registrar General’s database,” Wutawunashe said.

“Records of all members on the Salary Service Bureau payroll were subsequently analysed for biometric attributes in the Registrar General’s database.

“The members who were found without the required attributes were notified and advised to go to their nearest Registrar General’s office and be issued with the biometric compliant IDs.”

Malaysia to launch citizen biometric database

Meanwhile the government in Malaysia last week announced its intention to register the biometric details of citizens.

According to tech site Biometric Update, Malaysia’s National Registration Department (JPN) will soon start collecting biometrics, including DNA and facial recognition data, for birth, marriage, adoption and citizenship certificates.

‘’The biometric elements are important. Currently, the identities of the populace depend on the fingerprint,” Ruslin Jusoh, the director-general of national registration said. “We will improve the existing security features, including creating facial recognition”.

The system will be tested by a number of institutions later in the year before a final decision is made on whether to roll it out nationwide.

About Natalie Leal

Natalie is a freelance journalist whose work has been published by The Sun Online, The Guardian, Novara Media, Positive News, and Welfare Weekly, among others. She also writes reports and case studies on global business trends for behavioural insights agency, Canvas8. Prior to working as a journalist Natalie worked for the public sector in social services for several years. She switched careers in 2013 after winning a fully funded NCTJ in a national writing competition. She holds a Masters degree in social anthropology from Sussex University where she specialised in processes of social change and international conflict and reconciliation processes.

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