The end of last week was characterised by calls to impeach the ICT minister; Mr Frank Tumwebaze after the youthful minister went ahead and switched off all SIM cards whose owners had not validated by end of May 19. Speaker Rebecca Kadaga led the crusade, on Friday summoned Mr Tumwebaze, also a Member of Parliament over what she called contempt of parliament when he maintained that government would switch off unregistered sim cards.
“Honorable members, you must be aware that Hon. Tumwebaze is not a regular attendant of this House. Indeed ever since the issue of registration started, he has not had the courtesy to come to this House to brief the House and the country. He does not even take time to hear the difficulties people are going through to register…………..It’s a high level of arrogance,” said Ms Kadaga.
She added: “On Tuesday, I will send this matter to the rules committee so that they can invite him to explain to this House.”
And today, President Yoweri Museveni once again postponed the Sim card registration deadline for mobile phone subscribers, some said to save Tumwebaze’s neck as hadn’t the head of state extended the deadline, his minister’s impeachment would have been successful as MPs are reportedly collecting signatures to censure him.
Museveni said that the new deadline on August 30, 2017 must be respected.
President Museveni said on twitter “I’ve agreed to this proposal on condition that the new deadline will be respected. SIM card registration will, therefore, run until 30/8/2017.”
But dissenting Ugandans insist that Museveni simply embarrassed his good cadre Frank Tumwebaze.
“The move President Museveni pulled is a populist one,” an anonymous NRM MP who attended the ruling party caucus meeting that proceeded Museveni’s announcement adding, “Minister Tumwebaze was simply doing his job, it was the right thing to do but his boss (Museveni) couldn’t let him take the shine after so much doubt.”
“He thinks that by further extending the deadline will earn him the age limit vote that he badly needs,” he added.
“The old man wanted to come off this as a saviour. Why didn’t he order the extension right from the start for he knew the time wasn’t enough.”
Renowned social media commentator Fredrick Tumusiime told TheUgandan that President Museveni has pulled off yet another masterstroke in his long political jigsaw.
“By claiming he is acting on advice of National Resistance Movement Caucus to extend the deadline – once again , our President has pulled off yet another masterstroke that catches his opponents unaware,” said Mr. Tumusiime, one of Uganda’s most sought after independent consultants on Water and Sanitation.
“The President comes off as the saviour of the masses and also reminds those who work for him including his Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda (who both extended the initial 7-day period to one month, and chaired the cabinet meeting that led to Frank Tumwebaze’s Friday announcement) that it’s Museveni’s word that counts. Yet another demonstration that the President is bigger than institutions,” Mr. Tumusiime added.
“The ICT Minister, Inspector General of Police and the Prime Minister, plus Uganda Communications Commission and everyone involved in the hushed deadlines look bad, but the President (and NRM) look good – and expected of populist leadership.”
In April, the Uganda Police and the Communications Commission issued a 7-day ultimatum for Ugandans to verify their Sim cards using their National ID details, to help fight crime.
Some Ugandans have however not been able to register their Sim cards because they don’t have ID documents as the government department has been slow in producing the papers.
Others say they have submitted their bio data more than three times but their names still cannot be found in the electronic system.
Queues were seen last week as people were trying to get hold of ID documents.