The government of Kenya through the National programme for the mandatory registration of all Kenyan Citizens and registered foreigners resident, established in the 2018 Amendment of Registration of Persons Act Sec. 9A, has been conducting mandatory registration exercise for all its citizens.
The activity is under the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) program that seeks to create a single database for personal information for all Kenyans after which they will be issued a Huduma Number as a unique identifier. Sh6 Billion was injected to finance the registration of 50 million Kenyans into a digital database.
Mass registration into the digital database scheduled for March 18, 2019, triggered senators to question ICT Cabinet Minister Joe Mucheru answer about government’s rush to implement the controversial National Integrated Information Management Systems (NIIMS), popularly known as Huduma Namba, that made Kenyans on Twitter to go ballistic about the project.
Senate ICT Committee chaired by Baringo senator Gideon Moi pressed CS Mucheru to explain why the government was pushing hard implementation of NIIMS, without supporting laws while overlooking the much-heated disagreements about the program.
Vice Chairperson Abshiro Halake confirmed that Data Protection Bill that should anchor the NIIMS, was yet to be passed by the Senate yet the program is ongoing.
” I am curious because there is a case in court seeking to stop the implementation of NIIMS, yet the piloting is going on,” vice chairperson Abshiro Halake said.
The Senators questioned Mucheru’s ‘parallel’ Bill, despite being aware and even contributing to the one currently before the Senate and his failure to put an entire legal framework in place before rolling out the programme.
In defence of NIIMS, CS Mucheru said his ministry is not the implementing agency.
“I may not respond to the issues because this programme is being implemented by the Ministry of Interior. We are just playing a supportive role,” he told the senators.
NIIMS was enacted by the National Assembly through the Statute Miscellaneous (Amendment) Bill of 2018. CS Mucheru told the committee that a multi-agency team comprising Attorney General Kihara Kariuki, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and himself will appear before the Senate’s Committee of the Whole House to explain the programme.
CS Mucheru insisted that NIIMS will create, manage, maintain and operate a national population register as a single source of personal information of all citizens and foreign nationals resident in Kenya.