By Moses Kyeyune
Kampala — The Head of Uganda’s Mission in South Africa, Ms Barbara Nekesa, has decried the stock out of passports that risks the country’s opportunities.
Ms Nekesa has appealed to MPs to push the government to streamline and fast track the use of electronic passports if the Mission is to remain relevant to Ugandans in South Africa.
She was on Wednesday addressing a delegation of visiting parliamentarians from the committees of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Government Assurances, who paid a courtesy call on her at the High Commission.
“We need the Ministry of Internal Affairs to come to our rescue such that we are helpful to our people; we have several Ugandans working here, and need to renew their passports,” Ms Nekesa said.
Ms Nekesa emphasised that since the decision to introduce the e-passports was made, the Ministry of Internal Affairs instructed the missions to stop issuing and return the old passports to Kampala.
“Now we cannot issue any passports because we do not have passports, we refer people who want new passports back home,” she said.
She also said that there is need for an urgent meeting to be called by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the missions permitted to issue passports to agree on how to roll out the issuance of the e-passports by those missions.
Uganda’s MPs are in South Africa on a benchmarking visit to the Pan African Parliament in Midrand.
They raised a concern that Ugandans intending to travel to South Africa were finding it difficult to secure visas to the country and appealed to the Uganda Mission in South Africa to resolve the issue.
They quoted recent media reports that showed that Ugandans, who wanted to take part in Africa’s Travel Indaba held in Durban, failed to obtain required visas in time.