The newspapers have been awash with stories of how the political parties have padded their membership list with people who are actually not members, in fact none of these people in question had even been asked if they wanted to be members in the first place. All this has been done in order for the political parties to be able to meet the eligibility criteria required for the next general elections. The law states that a political party must have a certain number of members who are registered voters in all provinces of the country.
The funny thing is that all the news stories are dwelling more on the outrage that the public has felt about being enrolled in one party or another without their permission (this includes a sitting member of parliament) rather than calling the crime what it is………IDENTITY THEFT!
I have always read and heard about identity theft, but always from the perspective that it is a developed world phenomenon. I mean what are you going to do with my identity details? Bureaucracy slows down everything in Africa that surely I will cotton on to an identity thief in no time. Really?
I have been disturbed for years about the Kenyan practice of handing over ones ID card every time you walk through a gate or into a building. The security guards note down your name, ID number and your phone number. In many cases they actually hold onto the card while you do your business wherever. This practice is even more widespread when one considers that hotels, phone companies, supermarkets, banks etc routinely photocopy ID cards and passports for all manner of reasons.
In an environment where there is no data protection act in in existence the public is entirely at the mercy of people who routinely collect this information and do with it as they please. So it is no surprise that thousands of people have found themselves members of political parties no one has ever heard of. Their identities have been stolen and we have lost our innocence. We will mature when this new crime gravitates from the voters list to white collar crime……….I hold my breath!