The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Observer's Nkunda Should Tell the Truth

opinion

It is very difficult to find where to start in response to your Dismas Nkunda, self-appointed spokesman for visa applicants at the South African High Commission (see: South African High Commission should respect Ugandans).

The fact that applicants voluntarily choose to come to our offices as early as 7:30am is due to their need to beat the queue, because we apply a queuing - first come, first served ? system. And yes, Nkunda, they "sit and wait"; our working day starts at 7:45am. Nkunda's diatribe is long on verbiage and short on facts. I will respond to his three detailed accusations.

Officials at our Consular section say Nkunda was very rude on the day he came to our offices; it is a pity he never borrowed a leaf from the book of his "good friend Geoffrey Kihuguru", who had been very polite and understanding. It is true he had been coming to the embassy for some days with his daughter, because there was a problem with the daughter's application.

What Nkunda conveniently omits to disclose is that Mr Kihuguru's daughter herself had serious difficulty getting through to the university, as did our officials - we must check and verify every aspect of each application. Mr and Ms Kihuguru understood perfectly what all that entailed; Nkunda did not or could not. Another gross untruth stated by Nkunda concerns "one boy who had missed two weeks of study (and) who suddenly lost it."

Nkunda's angel was actually in possession of two passports; one Ugandan and the other Kenyan! The delay in processing his visa was because he had lied about his travel documents; our database revealed that Nkunda's angel had already obtained a visa from Kenya on the Kenyan passport. I suppose the so-called "expert" on human rights and refugee issues will perhaps agree that his angel acted rather fraudulently!

The "absolutely rude and arrogant" Nkunda is not telling the truth about an 11-day turnaround for visas to be issued: there are very bold notices outside our visa section advising that applications would be processed within five working days, and we deal with urgent cases on the spot.

Nkunda must learn how to tell the truth: he received his visa the day after he submitted his application; his statement "what would I be doing with their proposed 11th?" is a deliberate falsehood.

As a matter of fact, minister Matia Kasaija telephoned late in the day and the head of our Consular services came to the office at 7pm to open and issue the minister's visa. He was most appreciative, and his office called to express their gratitude. I will be so bold as to suggest to 'Oracle Nkunda', the human rights "expert" and "specialist" on refugee issues, that the mastery of anything starts with telling the truth!

We have often heard the patronising refrain sung by Nkunda and his cohorts about "the sacrifices Ugandans had (made) for the liberation of South Africa", and one must tell these people that such efforts did not mean that we must not enforce immigration regulations at our borders. Nkunda does not tell the whole story in his account about Nigeria, nor does he state that the mentioned deposit ($461) is still applicable - for very cogent reasons!

The author is the South African high commissioner to Uganda.

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