Unregistered SIMCards to be switched off today midnight, insists ICT minister Tumwebaze

Frank Tumwebaze, the minister of ICT and National Guidance

The Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Frank Tumwebaze, has said that the deadline for switching off unregistered SIMCards will take effect today midnight.

He said government has however, allowed a transition period for allowed for those Mobile Money customers to either withdraw their balances or transfers them to registered SIM cards or to their banks.

Tumwebaze, also clarified that the National Identification Number (NINs) is to allow those still registering for IDs and identifications to register their SIM Cards in a period to be decided

In a press release on Friday 19, 2017, Tumwbaze said there will be no further extension to the earlier deadline set by government in April this year.

According to Tumwebaze, records submissions at the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) from telecoms are at 92% of all active SIM cards in the country.

The minister said that there has been  good progress made with many Ugandans on the SIM card registration and that the deadline for 19th May set by government remains and will be enforced at midnight today.

Members of Parliament had expressed concern to the Speaker this week over the registration exercising saying the set deadline was unrealistic and would affect the economy since most people were still in the process of verifying their SIM cards.

The MPs also moved a motion extending the registration of SIM cards for not more than one year.

Today’s announcement by Tumwebaze is a blow to the MPs and activists who had dragged the Uganda Communications Commissions to court over the SIM registration.

High Court in Kampala yesterday dismissed an application which sought an interim injunction to block the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) from deactivating or switching off unregistered SIM cards today until the main petition challenging the move was disposed off.

The petition had been filled by Norman Tumuhimbise, the chairperson of the Jobless Brotherhood, an activist organization.

However, in his verdict, the trial Judge, Justice Steven Musota, said; “I have in regard to the interim order application for a temporary injunction considered the respondent’s reply in defence to the effect that people were given two years to register their SIM cards; the contested seven days was just a bonus, which was followed by an extra 30 more days as per the Prime Minister’s communication,” Musota said.

“I therefore dismiss this application basing on the fact that the applicant’s lawyers also agree that the application was over taken by events. The main suit is hence adjourned to June 8 when a hearing date will be set after both parties have submitted,” Musota added.

Tumwebaze at the press conference

Tumwebaze dismissed claims it is illegal to switch off people’s SIM cards said, that the enactment of the Registration of Persons Act 2015 makes the national ID a mandatory document to use for any form of registration services, SIM card registration inclusive.

He explained that sections 65 (1) (a-I) and 66 (1) and (2)that elaborate on the use of information in the register and Mandatory use of National ID cards respectively.

“Therefore 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) corrected advised,” Tumwebaze said.

He said the registration of simcards is to ensure national security and safeguard against criminal activities in the country.

“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,” said Tumwebaze.

He said criminals acquire new discard that are either unregistered or fraudulently registered with wrong or falsified identities for use in the execution of their operations and discard them.


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