Friday August 1 2014

People with disabilities have every right to register for a national ID

By Pamela Ankunda

We write to address issues raised in the Daily Monitor of July 30 about what the writer said was ‘limiting the scope of disability’ in the Identity Card Project.

Since the ID project got underway – before actual enrolment started on April 14, the project leadership carried out positive engagements and checks with the relevant People With Disabilities (PWD) bodies and the Ministry of Labour, Gender and Social Development under which PWDs fall.

We committed to, among others, making special consideration at all enrolment centres for PWDs.

This initiative was meant to ensure no Ugandan is left out of this important exercise. At every coordination stage, district coordination committee and PWDs are part of decision-making.

Indeed, the national ID project came up with mechanisms of registering PWDs and the elderly. The project placed mobile registration centres at PWDs’ places of convenience, specifically designed to cater for such interest groups.

It is also important to note that the project organised enrolment centres at some of the disability institutions like the School of the Blind in Soroti.

At the enrolment centres, when a PWD appears for registration, our enrolment officers are under instruction to assist these people and give them priority for guidance and registration. This is part of the operating procedures.

In fact, the recruitment policy was as open to PWDs as any other person.

And we do have people with disabilities employed in different tasks even at the national ID headquarters for the jobs they qualified for. Disability is definitely not inability! The project bases its strength on an open policy that is non discriminative, non partisan and non sectarian.

From the daily performance tracking mechanism where we receive daily enrolments on a particular kit and a particular enrolment officer, there is an indication that quite a number of PWDs have successfully registered and will get their cards in September. This is commendable.

The fact that the limited space on the form caters for three disability categories does not exclude the fact that there are other cases under consideration.

The form provides for the applicant to fill in which other category of disability they fall in. It is the same way that the form points out a few religious affiliations but doesn’t ignore the rest- as one may be.

The written categories serve as examples that the rest would indicate theirs. If a category is not mentioned, one has to simply add it in the provided space. Our trained officers do guide the applicants on this.

Indeed, the purposes for which these National Identity Cards will serve, like enhancement of security, provision of social services, facilitation of free movement of people within the East African Community, help in the authentication of true identities of people, enhancing a digitised election and enable government to effect proper planning for its citizens can only be fully realised when citizen participation is fully encouraged without discrimination.

The ID project remains committed to its successful implementation, mindful of the fact that the growth and development of the country and the successful realisation of Vision 2040 is all embracing.

It is a journey that we all must undertake together regardless of who we are. What binds us is our noble obligation to serve the motherland, respectful of course of all conventions and rights on such bodies as those of PWDs

As a national project, we are open to positive and constructive criticism. The National Identity Card headquarters offices are open to this too.

We would like to encourage whoever is dissatisfied to exploit these avenues to get a deep insight of our processes. We call upon all Ugandans to take full advantage of full kit availability within the remaining days at parish level to register for their cards.

Ms Ankunda works with the National Identity Card Project. @Pamankuda