Wednesday, March 18, 2015
I Am Ugandan, and I Can Prove It
By Bakampa Brian Baryaguma
On 24 April 2014, I applied for a Uganda national identity card (hereinafter ‘the national ID’), by filling in, and submitting an application form, accompanied by the requisite documents, particularly copies of my passport and birth certificate. After several delays, and failed attempts to obtain my national ID, I finally received it on Monday, 16th March 2015. It looks beautiful, and I am very excited about it. I thank and congratulate the team on the National ID Project for a job well done.
Needless to say, the national ID is a very important document. With its introduction, the Uganda of shortcuts (better known as panya panya or kubatisa in our modern local parlance) is effectively being phased out, for which reason I call upon Ugandans to take the national ID seriously, because henceforth, it will affect very many aspects of our social life, including the following.
First, to benefit from social services like pension and related matters like grants to the elderly, medical care and the soon-to-be introduced national medical insurance, free rural or urban electrification, and so on, intended beneficiaries will be required to prove their citizenship.
Second, it will invariably affect students and scholars at all levels of education, particularly through scholarships and related grants. For direct university and tertiary education entrants, admission to government scholarships will be upon proof of Ugandan citizenship. Even international scholarships will be similarly affected, since they are awarded to citizens of specified countries. To receive such a scholarship, or grant, one will have to prove his or her citizenship, by presenting the national ID, to ensure that only those targeted actually benefit from the available opportunities.
Third, the national ID will inevitably affect and influence in-land and international travel matters. Pertaining to the latter, obtaining cross-border permits like passports and international travel permits will be dependent upon proof of citizenship, of especially the issuing country.
Fourth, to participate in elections and/or referenda, either as a candidate, voter or both, it must be proved that one is a citizen of Uganda, because it is well known world over that choice of national leadership, and destiny is principally a preserve of citizens. Hence, one can only register as a voter, obtain a voter’s card or register and stand as a candidate, upon presentation of the national ID.
Fifth, the national ID will influence employment policies and decisions in this country especially, in the civil service and the military, which traditionally are preserved for citizens. The days of just stating on the application form that one is Ugandan, are numbered and fast going; henceforth, one must attach a copy of the national ID on the application form. But even private sector employment could be affected, because there may be key and sensitive economic sectors that government may want to protect through policies of limiting employment in them to only citizens. Further, there are regional and international dynamics to this, because most employment opportunities at those levels are pegged to citizenship, proof of which will be dependent on presentation of one’s national ID.
Sixth, and more interestingly, even ordinary social relationships and affairs like marriages will be affected by the national ID, probably in ways that I may not accurately predict at the moment. But perhaps by way of illustration, let me allude to the experience of Bishop Kiganda David, who, while speaking on his radio programme, Weddemu, on 93.0 Kingdom Fm, said that he found difficulties in marrying his Zimbabwean wife, just because he didn’t have a national ID, which was demanded by the Zimbabwean authorities, as part of clearance procedures. He was only saved by his passport.
Therefore, it should be clearly noted that with the issuance of the national ID, it is no longer just a question of whether you are Ugandan or not; now it has more to do with whether you can prove it or not, which conclusively determines the matter. Ugandans should guard their national IDs jealously.