Sim cards: Kadaga summons Tumwebaze as Museveni backs UCC

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A customer makes a call with a new Vodafone Uganda SIM cards, that supports both voice and data

The clash over sim card registration and verification by the legislature and executive has now taken an interesting turn, dividing the two arms of government further.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has now directed the House Rules Committee to summon ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze for contempt of Parliament over sim-card registration.

On Thursday, Parliament presided over by Kadaga passed a motion blocking the disconnection of sim cards by service providers as ordered by the Uganda Communications Commission [UCC].

Parliament moved that the activity be extended for at least a year so that everyone gets the chance to register for national identity cards.

Later in the evening, the minister for ICT & National Guidance, Hon Frank Tumwebaze, said the deadline for switching off unverified sim cards would still stand.

In a press release Friday, Tumwebaze said 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.

He concluded that the requirement to validate and verify SIM CARDS using the National Identity Card is grounded in law. The Chief legal advisor of government (Attorney General) correctly advised.

Kadaga now wants Tumwebaze to appear before the house and explain how he dared forego a motion passed by parliament to have Ugandans’ sim cards switched off [scheduled for midnight today].

“We cannot accept total disregard for peoples’ voices,” Kadaga said late Friday evening.

“This is a high level of arrogance,” she lashed out, adding, “On Tuesday I will send this matter to the Rules Committee so that they can invite him to explain himself to the house.”

Museveni backs UCC deadline

President Yoweri Museveni also added his voice to that of Tumwebaze saying he was in support of the deadline given to phone users.

“I support efforts of authorities to register SIM cards & urge all to adhere to the deadline,” Museveni said in a tweet on his official handle Friday evening.

He added: “It’s a critical step in the fight against crime.”

As earlier noted by UCC, the overall objective of this exercise is purely to provide national security safeguards.

While mobile phone telecommunications is one of the most commonly used methods of communication among citizens and has greatly revolutionized the way businesses are run, negative elements have also taken advantage of the same means of communication to plan, coordinate, finance and execute their criminal activities with ease and sophistication.

The practice for the criminals has been to acquire new Sim Cards that are either unregistered or fraudulently registered with wrong and falsified identities for use in the execution of their criminal operations and thereafter discard them so that they are not traced.

Meanwhile, Tumwebaze explained that mobile money would not be disconnected but would give people time to transfer their money to registered lines or bank accounts.

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