On April 14th 2022, the National Registration and Identification Authority (NIRA) made a proposal before Parliament to increase fees for correction of errors on the National Identification cards from 50,000 to half a million shillings.

In a media statement by NIRA, this proposal should tighten controls and deter requests from the public for correction of errors, given the high turnout of people seeking correction to their National IDs. The applicants are estimated by NIRA to be over 200 people per week, most reportedly, asking to change their dates of birth. However, the sudden jump from Shs. 50,000 to 500,000 has become a major cause for public outrage, given the significance of the National Identity Cards. NIRA insists on making it punitive for Ugandans to renew, replace or correct details on their National IDs, especially where the errors are not borne to them (NIRA).

RoseMary Kisembo, the executive director of NIRA says that the proposal is one that was simply tabled in an internal discussion and that due consultation is ongoing to assess its viability and that Ugandans should give NIRA the benefit of the doubt.

On whether ordinary Ugandans can afford such a fee, Mrs. Kisembo says that most corrections are not by the ordinary Ugandans but instead by the public servants who want to stay their retirements coupled with labour companies engaged in dubious deals.

“The people in the rural areas are not the ones seeking to change the age, it’s the civil servant who doesn’t want to retire. It is somebody from a labour company trying to export a girl below 21 years.” Mrs. Kisembo adds.

For Susan Juliet Agwang, legal officer at African Freedom of Information Centre, reasons given by NIRA are just the tip of the iceberg in the main discussion on why citizens seek replacement of national IDs

“Maybe people can really give NIRA wrong details. But that cannot be a greater margin like how we are seeing in the statistics concerning the matter. People don’t lose their national IDs because they have chosen to be careless. There are people who they just grab their things on the street.” Susan explains.

Ms. Agwang says that for issues affecting the general society like a national ID, consultation has to be part of the process to allow citizens who made a social contract with the government, to be able to hold accountable their own leaders, with one of those ways being; asking the most difficult questions and demanding a response.

On why such a trend of minimal participation of ordinary Ugandans in the decision making of their country, Andrew Karamagi, a public interest lawyer says the mistake is rooted in the founding of Uganda.

“Uganda was never set up or is not being run in a way that seeks to serve the interests of citizens or to enhance the welfare of citizens. It was set up as an instrument of control. It was set up as a tool of extraction. It is a weapon of violence.” Karamagi notes.

Highlighting that a citizen is defined by 4 values which are; Identity, Participation, Productivity and Dignity, Karamagi says that putting that in consideration, many Ugandans are just residents, inhabitants but not citizens of Uganda in present times.

The National Registration and Identification Authority (NIRA) proposal to increase fees for correction of errors on the National Identification cards from 50,000 to half a million shillings is before the Parliament of Uganda and deliberations on the issue are still ongoing in the legislative body of Uganda.


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