Hon Jacob Markson Oboth: “My wife has been trying to register for weeks but it is not successful. now having a wife who is not registered…” (In the Parliament of Uganda 18th May 2017).
There been two exercises done by the Ugandan authorities that has been hectic, it isn’t any by-election or polling. That is even worse than this, because the will of President Museveni has to honored and not the will of the ones throwing the ballots. Therefore, today’s proof of the ruthlessness of National Resistance Movement and their government. Are the decision to get the Sim-Cards of the citizens registered on the owners. So that the government can control and have oversight of who owns what number. Certainly for a government who already has the methods and known history of violating the privacy of the citizens with their interception technology. This has been done to the opposition leaders and their parties through the Chief of Military Intelligence at Mbuya hill, Kampala.
Well, this isn’t about how they have used FinFisher to track and monitor individuals that the state wants to control and get detained. This is about the general population and their cellphones suddenly has to not only get National Identification Card and Number (NIN) by National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) and follow the orders of Uganda Communication Commission (UCC). Therefore, when the Honorable Frank Tumwebaze has continued to push the registration, even as the first delay was to today, but the remarkable step was yesterday, the Parliament voted for a motion. That motion was to give up-to a year, but the Minister Tumwebaze had already made his mind. Take a look!
Yesterday’s Parliament’s Motion on the Registration:
“The deadline was due to expire today. Winnie Kiiza, the Leader of Opposition, moved the motion to urge the government extend the validation exercise. The shadow attorney general, Wilfred Niwagaba, seconded the motion, pointing out that some Ugandans have yet to get their national IDs due to the inefficiency of the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA). Speaker Rebecca Kadaga concurred, ruling that the extension should take not more than a year. NIRA had earlier revealed that 15 million Sim cards have so far been validated, while more than one million have been rejected for submitting inconsistent data. Speaking to The Observer at their offices in Kololo yesterday, Michael Muganga, the NIRA assistant public relations officer, said Sim cards that were not verified either had wrong national identification numbers (NIN) or the names didn’t correspond with the NINs” (…) “However, according to NIRA’s Muganga, while telecommunication companies have submitted 18 million SIM cards for validation, the actual number of those validated is only 15 million. “We have issued around 15 million ID cards; so, if they have said 18 million, may be there are people who have multiple SIM cards,” Muganga said. According to UCC records, Uganda has got 22.8 million SIM cards, and many subscribers have got multiple SIM cards” (Lule, 2017).
MTN Addresses the Concerns of Costumers yesterday:
“MTN added that “numbers that are not fully registered are on a soft suspension, from 8am to mid-day. Apologies for the inconvenience.” Experts said the suspension was one way MTN was driving awareness for registration, and also checking their systems ahead of the deadline which is midnight Friday. But many on twitter were outraged, demanding to know if regulations allowed MTN to do their tests before the deadline” (Uganda CrazyMedias, 2017).
Hon. Tumwebaze statement:
“As a national security measure, government embarked on an exercise of ensuring that every SIM card of an individual gets validated and verified for purposes of ensuring secure and safer communications. For that matter, instructions were given to all telecom companies through the regulator, UCC to enforce the exercise. The same way banks embarked on their KYC (Know Your Customer) principle, same should apply to the telecom sector for SIM card holders” (…) “The deadline of 19th May set by government will be enforced at Midnight. This is therefore to confirm that the deadline stands and all unregistered, unverified and un-validated SIM cards will be switched off initially for voice communications. In other words the holders of those cards will not be able to receive or make calls” (…) “Another measure taken by government to ease the registration, verification and validation process for citizens as demanded by Parliament and citizens, is for NIRA to allow new ID applicants whose IDs are still pending processing to use their application form numbers. Once they get their IDs, with the National Identification Number (NINs) then they can re-submit online using the USSD code *197#” (Tumwebaze, 2017).
This here are a proof that there aren’t a synergy between the government, even between Parliamentarians, like the Minister Tumwebaze doesn’t even care or listen to the Motion that was voted in Parliament yesterday, the 18th May 2017. What should make you wonder is that the first deadlines seemed to be in mid-April – around the 20th April 2017. As one of the companies wrote online:
“Hello Tangerians, To complete your SIM registration and avoid being disconnected, please WhatsApp your Tangerine number and a copy of your national ID to 0753333666, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our offices before Thursday 20th April 2017” (Tangerine Uganda, April 18 2017).
But on the day 21st April 2017, the day after first deadline, the postpone was to the 19th May 2017. Than on the 18th May 2017, the Parliament passed a motion making it possible to extend up-to a year. Something that the Honorable Tumwebaze didn’t listen to or follow. Therefore, he in his station took the powers and overruled the Parliament, single-handed took charge and pushed through. This with the knowledge that many people will lack their phone coverage, even if only limited.
“Minister of ICT and National Guidance Frank Tumwebaze has said the deadline for unverified SIM cards of 19 May will be effected at midnight. The deadline will only affect communication to enable mobile money customers to either withdraw their balances or transfer them to registered SIM cards” (NBS Television, 19.05.2017). So the Government, NIRA, UCC and the Telecom Companies have to silence many millions of Sim-cards. They are the ones who haven’t had the ability to get to NIRA to even get the National Identification Cards and the Numbers, which it contains (NIN). The National Identification Cards hasn’t been a smooth ride either for the Republic. So the need for this, is surely making it harder for villagers and the ones far from central towns. You can expect many in Northern Uganda, who will from tonight have phones that can only transfer mobile monies and not call.
This here isn’t only affecting the ones who has multiple Sim-Cards and hasn’t gotten them verified through the systems, the companies and the agencies who has to systematic it in their registry. If it wasn’t so, than this exercise would be unnecessary. Certainly, the ride has been bumpy and will not stop to be so. As even the wife of the Member of Parliament Oboth has to get registered today, as she wasn’t ready yesterday. There are many more who misses out and that isn’t cared for by Frank.
The State will leave a dozens behind, who has to scratch their monies and either find their ways to NIRA offices or the local government offices to get National Identification Card, even if they have that. They have to get to a Telecom provider who can offer help and from the up-country villages, that is a long ride and expensive one. So the city-life appears in the midst of villages, as they have to fix these issues. The millions missing will need support and will need help that the state should help with and not just use the Telecom to do their dirty works. Peace.
Lule, Baker Battle – ‘Uganda: MPs Block SIM Card Registration Deadline’ (19.05.2017) link: http://allafrica.com/stories/201705190314.html
Tumwebaze, Frank – ‘Progress on the SIM card Validation/Verification exercise’ (19.05.2017)
Uganda CrazyMedias – ‘MTN prepares for SIM-Card deadline with ‘soft suspension’ (18.05.2017) link: http://www.uganda.crazymedias.com/uncategorized/mtn-prepares-for-sim-card-deadline-with-soft-suspension/