With just above 11 million of the 18 million Ugandans registered for national identity cards, a number of significant setbacks have been registered during the national exercise, Chimp Corps report.
Atop of these, confessed the Internal Affairs Ministry on Tuesday, has been the fact that a number of foreigners are being illegally registered, thanks to various loopholes in the verification processes at various levels.
Minister Aronda Nyakairima, who is coordinating the registration programme, told Parliament that identifying and sieving non-citizens from citizens remained a significant challenge to the project.
The Problem, Aronda said, was much more complex along cross-border communities which include the Pokot, Karamajong, Itesot, Bagisu, and Basamia along the Eastern border; the Haya, Banyarwanda and Twa, in the south, Bakonjo, Bamba, Alur, and Lugbara, in the west and the the Madi, Lugbara, Kakwa, Kuku and Acholi in the north.
A number of refugees have been registered in the exercise, especially in districts where there are refugee camps, or transit points.
Gen Aronda pinned this to “lack of proper management of the refugee issue since 1962.”
“There is a general public outcry about the influx of Refugees for example who have settled in very easily. These have even acquired land and maybe occupying political and public offices,” he said.
Aronda noted that his team was currently working closely with the responsible office under the Office of the Prime Minister to compare the existing database of refugees with theirs, to weed out refugees who may have applied for national identity cards.
Setting the thief to catch a thief
Verification teams were set by the project to help sieve out non-citizens, and these include the Parish Citizenship Verification Committee (PVC), composed of the Parish Chief/Elder, LC 1 Village Chairperson and the Parish Internal Security Officer.
Their main role is to identify the citizen from the community where he/she resides or is born and endorse their comments on the enrollment form. The applicant is then enrolled by the enrollment officer and data sent to Kololo central processing system.
Aronda noted, however, that these teams had not sufficiently done their work and that reports of infiltration by foreigners continued to emerge.
“In some cases, some of the members of this committee are alleged to be non-Ugandans especially in border areas!”
The project, Aronda said, was also grappling with some communities in various parts of the country which acknowledge to have come from neighbouring countries. These have since lived, and have generations born in Uganda.
One of these, he said, was the Malagori Community, resident in Jeeja village, Kigumba sub-county in Kiryandongo district.
“It is alleged that these came to Uganda in 1956 on invitation of the Omukama Kabalega from Kenya and have since lived here with their families. They are estimated to be 5500 people. This community wanted to register directly but have been advised to use lawful methods only and this is through Naturalisation.”
Besides foreigners, the project has also been hampered by numerous technical and logistical challenges such as a limited number of kits, machine breakdowns and ineffective manpower.
On account of these Aronda said, some suggestions had started to emerge that the exercise be extended beyond August 11, which is the deadline for registration and parish level.
By this date, it is anticipated that about 14 million persons will have been registered, with 4.2 million remaining, which must be completed in the next phase at the sub-county level.
As a way of speeding up the process, the team is currently redeploying enrollment kits from areas where the exercise has been completed like Mitooma, Buvuma, Nakapiripirit and Kayunga to areas where they still have big populations to capture.
Local Councils have also been called in to registers to locate unregistered citizens.
It is anticipated that February 2015, all the remaining unregistered Ugandans will have been registered.
The second phase of the campaign commences in 2016, where all Ugandans, starting from zero years will be registered and given identification.