Kenyans fault Huduma Namba plan over Mastercard links


Huduma Centre in Nairobi
Huduma Centre in Nairobi

In Summary

  • Mastercard said: "Huduma Card is a multi-purpose prepaid card.Which can be obtained at the following banks: CBA, DTB, EQUITY and KCB. It enables you to make and receive social payments safely, conveniently and without cash in store, online, by phone anywhere Mastercard's accepted worldwide."
 

A section of Kenyan lawyers are questioning the Government’s motive behind the newly launched Huduma Namba exercise.

According to them, data on Kenyan citizens already exists from birth certificates, IDs, passports and even voters card registration.

This comes after the Government kicked off a fresh registration exercise for all citizens.

In the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIMS), one has to get a unique identification number known as Huduma Namba and have their biometric data (fingerprints) recorded.

“…otherwise you will not be able to access any Government service,” the Immigration Department said on Twitter.

Renowned Economist David Ndii responded then responded to Immigration saying:

There is no such thing as government services. They are public services and constitutional entitlements with or without Huduma Namba. We pay you to provide them. This colonial/dictatorship mentality is unacceptable.”

FOREIGN COMPANY

Critics say the costs involved in the project and how partners such as Mastercard were selected has not been made public.

Our Government needs to be Fully transparent on Huduma Namba. Is it related to previous Huduma Card run by Mastercard? Where will all individual information under Huduma Namba be domiciled? By MasterCard, a foreign company? How safe is the info from Criminal & Terrorist Hackers?” Lawyer Donald Kipkorir posed.

The advocate further faulted the Government for not making public information on which technological system Huduma Numba runs on, who owns the application or how it addresses the right to privacy as engraved in the Constitution.

Waikwa Wanyoike, a former director at the Katiba Institute, accused the State of hiring a company in secret with no information as to how the data collected will be used or what it will be used for.

“There is no law to restrain rogue government officer if they decide to use our personal data for illegal purpose. There is simply no data law to protect the data, period!” he noted.

Wanyoike who now serves as a Litigation officer at the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSF) further questioned why Kenyans have to line up all day to provide data when the Government already holds sufficient registration information on them.

“Why not transfer what GoK has to NIIMS? Why would Bunge pass a law with such serious consequences using a sneaky and illegal Miscellaneous Amendment process?” he posed.

MOVED TO COURT

According to Mugambi Laibuti, an advocate of the High Court, NIIMS and Huduma Namba should also be challenged in court in relation to their constitutionality.

Does NIIMS/Huduma Namba guarantee the right to access to information? 4. How does NIIMS/Huduma Namba provide for access for persons with limited digital literacy ? what about access for persons with disabilities?” he asked.

He also raised issues of dispute resolution mechanisms and whether such is available within the Huduma Namba project.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission has since moved to court to stop the process.

In the petition, the lobbyists claim the law empowers the State to collect data, including DNA but does not guarantee safety and protection of the information.

Lecturer Wandia Njoya echoed the sentiments also questioning why MasterCard is to be given access to Kenyans’ bio data.

According to her, the global payments and technology company should market their card to customers and not ‘capture weak, corrupt African governments and enslave Kenyans with debt.’

Mastercard responded to her saying: “Huduma Card is a multi-purpose prepaid card.Which can be obtained at the following banks: CBA, DTB, EQUITY and KCB. It enables you to make and receive social payments safely, conveniently and without cash in store, online, by phone anywhere Mastercard’s accepted worldwide.”

 

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