By Taddeo Bwambale
AT least 2,896 UPDF troops who have been serving under AMISOM for the last 12 months have registered for National Identity (ID) cards.
The enrollment exercise for the peacekeepers started at Peace Support Operations Training Centre in Nakaseke District on Wednesday.
The soldiers missed the mass enrolment exercise that ended in August. Issuance of IDs was expected to start in October.
According to a statement from the army released on Thursday, the peacekeepers will use their passports and UPDF Identity cards to register for the IDs.
The Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Katumba Wamala revealed that all Ugandan contingent soldiers in Somalia shall have registered by January 2015.
“All troops of the two Battle groups that deployed in June and October registered before they left for Somalia,” Gen Katumba said.
The 2,896 troops under Uganda Battle Group (GABAG12) who returned last week from Somalia are all registering for the IDs before proceeding home for a one month leave.
The army chief said troops from one battle group still in Somalia has not yet registered for the ID cards would return in January just in time to register under a similar arrangement.
Uganda has over 6,200 troops in Somalia and out of those about 4,800 of them have already registered for the National ID cards.
He further revealed that all the soldiers who have been in Uganda together with most of their family members have registered for the National ID cards.
Gen Wamala added: “These are an organized and generally informed group that was easy to mobilize for registration. The only seeming challenge we are faced with is registering the troops Central African Republic and South Sudan.”
He said: “This is a very important exercise that we cannot afford to miss out on. We are working out modalities with Ministry of Internal Affairs to ensure this category register by January 2015 and we are positive it will be a success.”
Gen Wamala added that the Army leadership did not pronounce the exercise as compulsory but rather enlightened the soldiers on the benefits of the National ID and which is responsible for the positive turn up by the troops without any coercion.
Brig Dick Olum, outgoing the Uganda AMISOM Contingent Commander said the success of registration for National ID heavily depends on the involvement of leaders at all levels.
“I had to take the lead in registering to show my troops how important this exercise is. Besides, when they acquire the ID cards my work will be made easier and so will it be the case for all other leaders at all levels in the country.” Brig Olum said.
He noted that every Ugandan should consider registration for National ID as exercising of their rights
Brig Olum said those who are reluctant to register are violating their own rights. He observed that such will unfortunately miss out on their right to belong or Identification and consequently cut off themselves from many other rights like right to medical care and the right to vote.
“People in some countries wish they could also vote but it is unfortunate that they don’t have such a right. Why should someone in Uganda therefore throw away such an opportunity to exercise his/her right to vote by not registering now for the National ID?” he noted.
Registration for National ID cards that started with Mass enrolment exercise at all parishes countrywide in April 2014 was shifted to sub-county level in August 2014 under continuous registration exercise.
Continuous registration will close on February 27, 2015 and those who will have not registered by then will have to wait until after the General Elections, that is June 2016.
Total enrolment for National ID cards as at October 19, 2014 was 15,611,000 out of the estimated 18,000,000.
National ID cards will not only help Government Identify citizens and plan for the country but also enable in provision of a wide range of services like education, health, pensions contribution, welfare benefits, and immigrations and passport control.
It will facilitate improvement in services in areas of insurance, law enforcement, financial transactions, electoral purposes, tax administration among others.