Last Updated on: 21st October 2021, 08:30 pm
‘Panic as Uganda starts registering those in the diaspora’
Kampala – 21, October 2021: The government of Uganda relies on foreign remittances as one of the sources of revenue for growth. This is supported by taxes on businesses, individuals, investments and companies operating in the country.
As of 2014, there were 20,248 Ugandan-Americans in the United States of America. A recent statistics indicate that there are 120,000 Ugandans in North America.
According to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), there are over 2million Ugandan citizens living and working abroad but only about 30% of them contribute to national growth.
In what looks like searching for a new measure and ensuring that those in the diaspora are part of the government back home, TND News has exclusively learnt that the government of Uganda has started registering all her citizens abroad – especially the currently divided group in the North America.
Sources say the government is using the leadership of the Uganda North America Association (UNAA) to get the registration done. This move, some say is “political and unsafe for them”.
Before and after the 33rd UNAA Conversation in Cincinnati, UNAA is yet to win the hearts of thousands of Ugandans it is looking after. The association has severally been branded many names, others say it is a “Kampala conduit” to suppress those who never believe in the current government.
Speaking to TND News recently, James William Mugeni, a resident of Iowa, says many Ugandans in North America left Uganda because of political persecution, calling the registration “very illegal”.
“The registration is to simply send a message that we know you and we are tracing you,” he adds.
According to Mugeni, there is no service government of Uganda is offering to those in North America, specifically.
Asked where his fears are, he responded: “Very many people are in the diaspora because of fears. Most of them are outspoken critics of the regime. The diaspora offers unlimited platforms for free speech and expression.”
Mugeni is the former UNAA councillor for Central Plains. He thinks that the increasing protests on Uganda at the UN in Washington DC is sending shivers into government back home. “The protesters are these very people you are registering.”
Another Ugandan, speaking on condition of anonymity, says it’s going to be easy for Kampala to monitor those giving them bad image abroad.
“I am aware the registration is on, but I don’t think I will do it,” he told TND News, Wednesday.
On Thursday, TND News made three attempts to reach Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the minister of ICT and NG who also speaks for government for a comment on this but he never responded.
Besides phone calls, the minister was yet to respond to our questions on this matter sent to his mobile phone number.
Is registration about building the economy?
A Bank of Uganda feasibility study of 2013 showed that 80% of foreign remittances are for consumption and not investments.
And in 2014, remittances were estimated at US$900m, up from US$873m in the previous year of 2013.
Years ago, a new Diaspora Policy drafted with support from UNDP’s Diaspora Project was sent to the Cabinet with expectation to ease some of the rough patches and make it easier for Ugandans living abroad to invest back home and contribute to socioeconomic and political development of the Pearl of Africa.
Through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, government, years ago introduced a “Diaspora Bond”. This bond aims at mobilising funds for huge infrastructure projects.
After the Bond, a new Uganda Diaspora Portal was rolled out by the Foreign Affairs Ministry to help circulate information to the diaspora and to respond to their inquiries in a timely manner.
More to follow!