Government recognised the need for an integrated system to identify citizens for national planning, national security, democratisation, revenue collection, and service delivery and immigration control among other purposes. With this system in place, it would offer Government a valuable mechanism for addressing its challenges in planning, security, and more efficient provision of social services.
All the above are fundamental reasons needed for Uganda’s registration for its citizens, however, how applicable is the beautifully crafted law?
The controversial clauses for example Clause 39) “Change of sex of a child”, saw many members of Parliament fold their sleeves, ready to rebuke anyone or anything that suggested change of sex, as homophobia kicked, many MPs’rebuked the west for this influence.
Given Parliamentarians rather radical views on homosexuality, the old clause was “ change of sex “, it was later amended to read “Registration of Children born hermaphrodites” it provided that a media doctor verifies these children as hermaphrodites.
One would perfectly understand MPs’ fear of the clause providing for change of sex given their “moral beliefs” but one has to put in mind that some Ugandans that leave their country and change their sex from female to male.
Does this mean they will not be registered as citizens?
“We Parliament to pass laws while considering reality, that people change their sex.” Said Minister for Justice and constitutional Affairs Kahinda Otafiire
The response to the minister’s advice can only be compared to noise from the market place as MPs’ rebuked him and his views on homosexuality.Speaker Kadaga asked MPs’ to legislate carefully, for some children are born hermaphrodites, they have both male and female organs and they would need to be registered under the new bill.
But even with this change in the clause, question remains on how many women in Uganda have no access to medical care when it comes to childbirth, so how do you expect one to reach a genetics doctor to verify the sex of a child?
The law is packed with an unrealistic requirements, Clause 40 Sub clause 2) requires a Ugandan to have a national Identification before receiving any services from of government or any other institution providing, these services such as:
One seeking employment; identification of voters; application for, and issuance of a passport; opening of bank accounts; buy of insurance policies; the purchase, transfer and registration of land by any person or any transaction connected with the purchase, transfer and registration of land; pension and social security transactions etc
Key question is how many Ugandans did register for a national ID? With all the shortfalls in the registration system, there were media reports where some places had no computers, or personnel, lack of equipment.isn’t hypocritical for a Government that failed to provide this service to some of its citizens, to turn around and refuse its citizens access to services?
(To the unemployed youth, make sure you registered for your national ID before you start to look for employment)
The law also prescribes the data collected from the national ID registration, may be used by the electoral commission to update, keep up the voter’s register.The opposition tried their best to fight this clause; they questioned how genuine the data collected was for the electoral commission to pick and use the data.
“The entire registration process was handled by the militarily, how are we sure that they did not register ghosts given the upcoming 2016 elections” asked MP Muwanga Kivumbi
With Uganda’s Ghost history, in the different sectors from ghost teachers, ghost hotels, the opposition is worried that come 2016 elections, we are likely to have legally recognised ghosts who can vote.
If one has not registered, according to this law, one will not access social services, including social security services, health, education and welfare benefits; without the possession of a national ID.
It is a fact that penalties should be put in place for anyone who does not register however to limit ones’ access to core services like Education and Health care is simply inhuman if one’s to consider the crafty registration process that Ugandans were subjected to.
“Giving unguided power and discretion to a person to restrict a service is simply unfair to Ugandans given that it is the role of any Government to give these core services to its citizens” said MP Ssegona
The Death certificate and burial permit, this is under Clause 4,A certificate of cause of death shall be forwarded immediately by the medical officer to the registration officer.
The medical officer shall, on signing a certificate of death, issue a disposal permit to the person taking charge of the body of the deceased. Incase a person dies and the cause of death is not known, then relatives have ask court for a burial permit before the body is disposed off.
Reading this clause, I actually thought it was a joke, given our hospital facilitates and the lack of storage room for dead bodies in Uganda, I wonder where the dead bodies will be kept as one waits for a death permit.
Plus the judiciary system lacks judges to preside over these many of the legal matters, where will these judges be found?
Some religions like Islam demand that a person is buried that same day, then what happens if there is no judge or the investigation on the cause of death goes on for a month?With the deadly disease like Ebola, cholera, how is one supposed to wait for a burial permit before they dispose off the body?
The aim of the law is to harmonize and combine the law on registration of persons; to offer for registration of people; to set up a national identification register; to set up a national registration and identification authority; to provide for the issue of national identification cards and aliens identification cards.
In conclusion, The Registration of Persons Act is a law that Uganda needs, however it is in bad shape and needs a reality check before it can be passed into law.