The more than ten million Ugandans whose sim cards are not registered have all the reasons to smile after Parliament of Uganda passed a motion extending the sim card registration by one year. The motion was bought by Leader of Opposition in parliament Hon Winnie Kiiza was seconded by shadow attorney general Wilfred Niwagaba, Manjiya county MP John Baptist Nambeshe and Mukono South MP Johnson Muyanja Ssenyonga.
Ms Kiiza said: I come to you on behalf of the people you represent. Many are facing challenges registering their SIM cards. As I speak now, MTN has even switched off some SIM cards even before the expiry of the deadline. She added that the messages urging people to register their SIM cards are in either English or Luganda, dialects whose spread is either limited or scattered.
While moving the motion, the LOP cited a number of flaws in setting up the deadline for the sim card registration exercise that is supposed to end tomorrow ( 19th May 2017)
“Regulation 7(2) and (3) of the Regulation of interception of Communications Instrument No. 42 of 2011 provides that valid identification documents may include national identity card, work permit, passport, driving license, student identity card, certificate of incorporation and voter’s card yet in this case all other valid documents have been neglected,” Kiiza noted.
She added: the extension would be done concurrently with the registration of learners which is set to start soon. Kiiza said Ugandans still need time to explain to their grandmothers and grandfathers in the villagers of what is going on.
The motion was also supported by Hon Rosemary Nankabirwa -Government Chief Whip. ‘‘Let us pass this motion, and let government come up with the date for ending it.’’ She said.
Hon Niwagaba, the Ndorwa West MP said that some Ugandans have not got their national IDs because of the inefficiency of the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA). He reminded parliament about the right and freedom of communication enshrined in the Constitution under Article 27 (2) giving Ugandans the right of privacy of communication.
Members argued that NIRA has no capacity to register all Ugandans since it has constrained staffing as indicated in the Ministerial Policy Statement for Internal Affairs FY 2017/18 which raises a risk of hindering the verification and validation process of sim cards.
Hon Oboth told parliament that his wife has been trying to register for the past few weeks, but has not succeeded.
Speaker Kadaga noted that Government is not aware that people don’t have their ID cards.
Earlier, High court judge, Stephen Musota had dismissed an application seeking to stop Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) from switching off the un-registered sim-cards by tomorrow 19th May 2017.
On April 18, Norman Tumuhimbise and Rights Trumpet Ltd dragged UCC to the civil division of the High court challenging the ongoing sim-card subscriber verification process.
Through Niwagaba and Mwebesa Advocates, the petitioners argued that it was unfair and unconstitutional for UCC to restrict citizens to using only national IDs for registration yet there are other official documents like passports which foreign nationals were allowed to use for the exercise.