Uganda Parliament MPs

If you were the MD of UCC right now, you should be feeling like a huge fool as the motion seeking for an extension of the SIM registration exercise using the National ID data was passed by MP to last not more than one year. The motion was tabled by the leader of Opposition and Kasese Woman MP Winnie Kiiza and was seconded by Ndora East MP, Wilfred Nuwagaba, his Manjiya counterpart John Partick Nambeshe and Mukono South MP Johnson Muyanja Ssenyonga.

Kiiza argued that many Ugandans could fail to beat the 19th May deadline to register SIM card because telecom sector regulator, the Ugandan Communications Commission (UCC) has not given clear guidelines on the matter. She also claimed that the National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA) had not extended its services closer to the people. “We still need sometime, to explain to the voters the process of having the SIM cards registered. We still need time to tell our grandmothers and grand farthers how they can access the registration processes ” Kiiza said.

Manjiya County MP John Partick Nambeshe told to his fellow MPs that “I would implore you to support and extension of the deadline for the registration and verification exercise”. While supporting the motion, Ndora East MP, Wilfred Nuwagaba expressed his concern about this data being collected about Ugandans and given private companies.

ICT Minister stands his ground

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In what was a rare scene in Parliament, both NRM and Opposition MPs were in tandem as they overwhelmingly supported the motion. Some MPs told tales about how some of their spouses have failed to get their National IDs. The MPs recommended NIRA to take this process closer to the people to either sub-counties or Parishes, the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga also supported this motion and said that NIRA should use the same avenues they used to issue out ID to the people like they did during registration.

However some MPs cautioned Parliament of the security implications of their resolution saying they were frustrating the purpose of the SIM card registration which is to make it harder for someone to commit a crime using a phone and disappear in thin air. Later, Speaker Kadaga put the motion to a vote and the house unanimously voted for a deadline extension of not less than a year.

Despite the Parliamentary resolution, Information Technology and Communications Minister, Frank Tumwebaze maintains that the deadline for siwtch off of unregistered SIM cards still stands.