Critics have read malice in the entire Huduma Namba project and are now accusing the government of giving Kenyans half-truths on the true intentions behind the project.
They also say the Interior ministry by launching a mass registration exercise before coming up with changes in the law to support it.
“Though the Huduma Namba initiative is a very important development as it is in line with what happens in developed nations, it is wrong to first carry out a mass registration then follow it up with policy,” Stephen Mutoro, the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) secretary general said.
“We have raised questions on its costs as well as the data security. The government must also ensure registration is an ongoing process. But as far as we are concerned, registration is still voluntary until the case in court is heard and determined,” Mr Mutoro said.
The National Identity card as we know it today, the KRA Pin and the NHIF card are some of the documents that will become obsolete if government has its way and gets the Huduma Bill enacted into law.
It is now clear that what started as a voluntary document will soon be mandatory for every citizen, since without it, the State will lock you out of at least 16 critical services.
Interior Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i says the current national Identity Card has failed to deliver on its intended goals and has instead caused wastage of resources and duplication of registration.
“The national Identity Card, despite having all the personal data details, including biometrics, has very little utility in functional areas. The failure to have linkage between foundational and functional systems has led to duplication in registration of persons, wastage of resources and diminution of trust in the identity ecosystem,” Dr Matiang’i says in his memorandum accompanying the bill.
In the Matiang’i Bill, the Huduma card will serve as the official government-issued document for identification and conduct of transactions.
The State also plans to make the Huduma card electronic in what will give it super abilities to monitor and track individual activities off-site.
“The Huduma Namba, where authenticated by the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) 9 database through fingerprints or any other specified biometric data, shall be accepted in absence or in non-presentation of the Huduma card,” it adds.
According to the Huduma Bill, biometric data will include fingerprints, hand geometry, ear lobe geometry, retina and iris patterns, toe impression, voice waves, blood typing, photograph, or such other biological attributes of an individual obtained by way of biometrics.
To make the KRA PIN obsolete, the proposed law says the Huduma Namba assigned to an individual will serve as a PIN for the purpose of tax. It will also be used to access any service under the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), which means that with the Huduma card, you will not need the NHIF card to pay hospital bills.
If enacted, The Huduma Act, 2019 will establish the NIIMS to promote efficient delivery of public services and consolidate and harmonise the law on registration of persons.
It will also facilitate assigning of Huduma Namba and issuance of identity documents, facilitate registration of births and deaths and for connected purposes.
NIIMS will have three components; the NIIMS database, Huduma Namba and Huduma card.
Without the Huduma Namba, it will be impossible to get a passport, apply for a driving licence, register a mobile phone number, register as a voter or pay taxes.
It will also be impossible to transact in the financial markets without the number, in what will lock out traders from buying and selling shares on the Nairobi Securities Exchange.
You will also require the number to open a bank account, register a company or a public benefit organisation, transfer or make any dealings in land, register for electricity connection, access universal healthcare services and benefit from the government housing scheme.
One will need the number to register a marriage, enrol into a public educational facility, access social protection services, register or transfer a motor vehicle, among other yet-to-be-specified public services. It will be impossible to do almost everything in the country without the number.
There will be three types of Huduma cards. The minors’ Huduma card will be issued to children who have attained the age of six years.
There will be the adults’ Huduma card for citizens who have attained the age of 18 years and the third will be the foreign nationals’ Huduma card, for resident adult non-citizens.
Huduma card will on its face include details of enrolled individual among them full name, sex, date of birth, Huduma Namba, nationality or residence status, place of birth, front-facing photograph and the date of issue.
The design of the Huduma card will continually consider advances in technology, and subject to appropriate guidelines, a non-physical mobile Huduma card may be issued.
“The design of the Huduma card shall continually consider advances in technology, and subject to appropriate guidelines, a non-physical mobile Huduma card may be issued,” the bill says.