The ruling National Resistance Movement [NRM] party Member of Parliament for Kasamba County in Mubende district, Mbwatekamwa Gaffa, on Tuesday cried out for the re-connection of his deactivated sim card, saying he was tired of being tortured.
Commonly known as Bwa, the legislator made his plea during a plenary session presided over by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and attended by the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, Frank Tumwebaze, who is on spot for the sim card disconnection saga.
“I don’t support any form of torture,” MP Bwa stated, adding, “right now am going through torture because my sim card was switched off.”
MP Bwa: I don’t support any form of torture, right now am going through torture because my sim card was switched off. #PlenaryUg
— Parliament Watch (@pwatchug) May 23, 2017
He was further enraged by comments by Kania Mario Obiga, the State Minister for Internal Affairs, who kept defending Nalufenya torture facility during the session.
“I wish for you to be tortured one day, then driven to hospital, that’s when you will understand,” MP Bwa told minister Obiga, demanding the immediate closure of Nalufenya.
MP Bwa to Minister Obiga : I wish for you to be tortured one day, then driven to hospital, that’s when you will understand. #PlenaryUg
— Parliament Watch (@pwatchug) May 23, 2017
Legislators then tasked Tumwebaze to furnish the Parliament with an action plan for the implementation of the nationwide Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card registration exercise.
The Speaker, in her communication to the house, said that the on-going SIM card registration exercise has been marred by numerous flaws, and added that there is therefore a need for government to provide a Statement on how it is going about the exercise.
“We as Parliament need to know how the government is going to deal with children below 18 years without national identity cards; those who registered but have not yet got their national identity cards and; those who registered their SIM cards but have been switched off,” Kadaga said.
She said that the government should have taken due diligence to provide an explanation of what the exercise is all about before embarking on it.
In addition, the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Winnie Kiiza (Kasese District) said that Parliament is at a loss with the registration exercise of sim cards.
She said that Parliament raised the issue and even resolved to have an extension of the registration exercise but the Ministers did not respond to it and went ahead to effect the disconnection.
“When we asked for an extension of the registration exercise, the Government Chief Whip promised that the government would act on it. However, the deadline earlier communicated was implemented,” Kiiza said.
She added: “The Minister of ICT, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, is misleading the public by telling them that the resolution passed by Parliament for an extension of the deadline for SIM card registration was just a piece of advice.”
Kiiza furthermore stressed that Parliament should be respected, and an explanation of the exercise should be implemented.
Hon. Theodore Ssekikuubo (Lwemiyaga) asked the government to respect the authority of Parliament.
“When the government is making decisions concerning the country, Parliament should be taken into consideration and accordingly informed,” he said.
In response, The Minister of ICT, Hon. Tumwebaze said that he acts on behalf of the government and not by his own will.
“The announcement I made was as a result of a unanimous decision of the Cabinet which originated from the security agencies over their concern with insecurity in the country,” he said.
He added: “The Cabinet decided to ease the registration process and save mobile money accounts.”
Tumwebaze said that he has never disrespected the Parliament.
In addition, The Minister of Karamoja Affairs, Hon. John Byabagambi noted that the Ministers are faced with precarious situations of what decisions to follow when faced with resolutions from the different arms of government.
“Sometimes Cabinet is going to take a resolution that is different from that of Parliament and this makes it difficult for Ministers; we need the Executive and Parliament to harmonise their decisions,” Byabagambi said.
On Thursday 18th May, 2017, Parliament passed a Motion instructing the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to extend the registration of SIM cards for up to one year – starting May 19th 2017; just a few hours to the deadline.
However, the Minister of ICT communicated in the Media saying that the May 19th 2017 deadline would be upheld.
The President of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Museveni has communicated that the deadline had been extended to August 30th 2017.