The Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC) has cancelled 260 Diplomatic Passports. These had been applied for by Ugandans who whose status does not warrant such travel documents.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs Spokesperson Simon Peter Mundeyi says that many Ugandans used the online passport application system to lie about their status and went ahead to pay for diplomatic passports, yet they did not qualify for them. Each Diplomatic Passport costs 500,000 Shillings.
The passports are reserved for the president and members of the first family, ambassadors, foreign service officers, high court judges and Permanent Secretaries.
Many of those who paid for the diplomatic passports indicated that they were members of Uganda's foreign service, judges or members of the first family. Others had applied for service passports claiming to be Members of Parliament, Directors, and Commissioners attached to government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
But the error was detected by the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, albeit after printing the passports. The suspicion came after persons who classified themselves as Very Important Persons-VIPs started picking up their passports and detected that many of them were businessmen who could not answer questions related to the offices that claimed to be attached to.
The Directorate has resolved not to refund anyone who falsified his status adding that the culprits have been advised to reapply for ordinary passports.
“They will have to reapply and pay money for ordinary passports. The Ministry of Internal Affairs also has the power to authorise a service passport but the option only applies in exceptional cases,” Mundeyi said.
A number of issues came up following the switch from Machine Readable to Electronic Passports. One of the issues was the delay in processing passports which forced many people to devise means of acquiring travel documents in the quickest means possible. Many opted for the express service or application for Service and Diplomatic passports that cost more but were processed within a lesser period.
But Mundeyi explains that the delays were caused by the number of applicants. For instance, Mundeyi explains that by the time they phased out Machine Readable Passport in April, there were 1,560,000 applicants in the system. But the numbers have since reduced thanks to a daily output of 3,000 up from 1,500 passports.