Uganda: Let sanity begin at immigration

Published: 12/Nov/2007
Source: The Monitor (Kampala)

The Immigration directorate, formerly a department, has finally got a new substantive head. Mr Godfrey Sasagah Wanzira has been appointed its director. This hopefully heralds a new chapter in that vital but messed up office where tribal fights, corruption and incompetence have been the order of the day for the past two decades.

Immigration is one sector that has never got sufficient attention from government. Little vetting was ever done in selecting the top commissioner for competence and uprightness. The Immigration control board remained dormant until a few months ago, leaving the interpretation and implementation of the immigration policy in the hands and to the whims of individual immigration officers.

This neglect led to several serious problems which now must be tackled head on. One was the unbelievable influx of dubious aliens some of whom secured work permits and ended up as shop attendants and others mere ‘kayungirizi’ (brokers) posing as investors.

Ugandans have never been xenophobic and save for the unfortunate works of a dictator in 1972 that saw Asians being declared unwanted; no foreigner has ever been made uncomfortable in Uganda on the sole grounds of being a foreigner. The Immigration directorate must be an enabling than restricting agency. But conmen and vagabonds should be kept out.

Secondly, the Ugandan passport has been vulnerable to abuse. There are people out there who are not citizens of Uganda who are using the country’s passport outside Uganda, and engaging in all sorts of activities. Given the weak structures (Or their non-existence) that should identify a citizen, the Immigration needs to be quite efficient in determining whom to avail the country’s passport.

Thirdly, government has been denied expert advice in implementing policies that are already part of the constitution like dual citizenship and citizenship registration and identification. With the chaos that has been reigning at Jinja Road, it was certainly not the place to go for expert advice.

So tens of thousands of Ugandans in the Diaspora are waiting impatiently for the enabling law and processes for them to acquire citizenship abroad and remain Ugandans (so they can invest back here without fear). Such delays due to lack of a focused Immigration management have been costing the country dearly. We wish the new Immigration success.

Read on AllAfrica website.

Themes: Acquisition de la nationalité, Double Nationalité
Regions: Ouganda
Year: 2007