More money will not give us IDs
Posted Sunday, October 27 2013 at 01:00
The Daily Monitor reported on Friday that the government is seeking another Shs500 billion to invest in the processing of national IDs.
This will bring the total figure to Shs800 billion since another Shs300 billion was already given to the German company Muhlbauer. The company was supposed to produce IDs for 21 million Ugandans but delivered only 400,000 cards in three years.
To put it in perspective, Shs800 billion is more than double the Shs394.4 billion which the government allocated to the agriculture sector this year, never mind that a big majority of Ugandans rely on the agriculture sector and are currently endangered by unpredictable seasons and other problems.
And this provides no assurance that the IDs will be produced this time.
Perhaps more importantly, even if the IDs are produced, we cannot guarantee that they will help us to sort out the citizenship question. In other words, what guarantees is the government putting in place to ensure that the system of identifying those who are eligible for the IDs is fool-proof?
The local government system at the village level virtually collapsed since the local leadership has not been renewed for more than a decade despite a court ruling that the current village local councils exist illegally.
At that level, therefore, they, by and large, cannot help much in sorting out citizens.
Also, we have no vital registration system to register births, deaths and marriages, and the national population census has been postponed twice.
The result is that there are good grounds to doubt the data on which the processing of IDs will be based, regardless of the technology that will be used.
It would, therefore, be more prudent for the government to first think of addressing the infrastructure that will enable a seamless citizen identification process before getting preoccupied with producing plastic cards which may turn out to be worthless despite a lot of money being poured into them?
We cannot just throw money at every problem.