In 2001, socialite Karitas Karisimbi, asked a close friend who was working under former army commander, Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, to help her obtain a passport.
Karitas, a Ugandan of Rwandan origin, was planning a trip to South Africa to cover Miss World 2001 for the defunct WBS TV.
“The process was quick. I met the official at Athena club in Kololo. He advised me on signing the passport application forms. I got my passport that same day. I never had any issues,” Karitas recalled.
Karitas, who had hit Uganda TV in 2000 as a sizzling host of then famous `Show time magazine’ on WBS TV., traveled extensively using the Ugandan passport.
Karitas would turn heads at social functions as the press pursued her for the hottest celebrity gossip.
His citizenship had never been questioned considering she was born at Mulago National Referral Hospital on May 26, 1984, to Rwandan parents.
In 2010, Karitas developed pregnancy complications which necessitated travel to United States for better medical care.
“It was a difficult pregnancy,” recalled Karitas in an exclusive interview with ChimpReports.
“I planned to go back to United States. I had a four-year visa. However, I needed at least ten blank pages in my passport yet it only had four. I decided to renew the passport,” said Karitas.
Karitas said she was unable to visit the immigration offices to renew her passport as she had just been discharged from Case Clinic over the pregnancy complication.
“I sent my sister to the Ministry of Internal Affairs to help me renew the passport. At entrance of the Immigration offices, security staff found my passport in my sister’s bag before taking her in for questioning,” said Karitas.
“They arrested my sister and interrogated her. She told security I was unable to attend in person. I don’t know why this became a big deal.”
The sickly Karitas eventually went to Immigration officers to follow up on her sister’s case.
“They could see I was unwell. They asked me how I got my passport yet I was not a Ugandan,” she told us.
“How have you established that I am not Uganda?” Karitas asked Immigration staff.
“No one had a clear answer as to why I was being denied a passport,” she observed.
Karitas later traveled to Rwanda where she got a new passport to travel for specialized medical care.
“I got Interpol clearance to get a passport from Rwanda. My parents are both Rwandan. I applied for my passport then came back. My applications for citizenship have been denied.”
Ten years down the road, Karitas has never had her Ugandan passport renewed.
When the former defence chief, Gen Aronda Nyakairima took charge of the Internal Affairs docket, Karitas hoped her situation would be resolved.
Aronda had kicked out corrupt officials and digitized Immigration’s systems to improve service delivery.
Karitas spoke to officials in Aronda’s office to help her sort her passport issue in vain.
“I was informed that I am married to a Rwandese man in Rwanda. But I said that was not true. My children are Nigerian and they live in Kampala.”
Karitas was further informed she obtained the passport by false pretence.
“I was born here. What did I pretend to be to get a passport? I used my name Karitas Karisimbi which I have never changed,” she observed.
The Ugandan Citizenship and Immigration Control Act provides that “every person born in Uganda one of whose parents or grandparents is or was a member of any of the indigenous communities existing and residing within the borders of Uganda as at the first day of February, 1926, and set out in the Third Schedule to the Constitution” shall be considered a citizen of Uganda by birth.
Aronda died before Karitas’ matter was addressed.
She didn’t give up.
Karitas recently engaged Maj Gen Apollo Gowa Kasiita, the Director of the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC) for assistance in vain.
Contacted for comment, Gowa responded: “Yes, I have met her (Karitas), pleasant young lady. Not sure what advice she was finally given, will check.”
He had not reverted when we ran this article.
Losing work permit
Karitas said she was advised by immigration’s legal officials to denounce her Rwandan links for her to get a Ugandan citizenship.
“How do I denounce my blood? I felt insulted. Really violated,” she said.
For the last ten years, Karitas has been using a work permit which is expiring soon.
Efforts to obtain dual citizenship are yet to bear fruit.
Karitas said the Immigration staff recently advised her to apply for dual citizenship which she intends to do.
According to the law, a person who wishes to be granted citizenship by naturalisation shall make an application to the board in writing in the prescribed form and shall comply with the requirements of subsection.
The qualifications for naturalisation are that he or she— (a) has resided in Uganda for an aggregate period of twenty years; (b) has resided in Uganda throughout the period of twenty-four months immediately preceding the date of application; (c) has adequate knowledge of a prescribed vernacular language or of the English language; (d) is of a good character; and (e) intends, if naturalised, to continue to reside permanently in Uganda.
Karitas, who fluently speaks Luganda and English and has lived in Uganda for over two decades, said she would give it a shot.
“They it seems, I may lose a work permit. There is an injustice going on. How can we talk about East African Community when these boundaries and injustices still exist?,” she asked, adding, “For the last ten years, I have gone to every office that matters in Uganda but no one has helped me. It’s so painful to be treated like this.”
Karitas was born on May 26, 1984, at Mulago Hospital in Uganda to Rwandan parents.
She was raised in Kamwokya, a Kampala suburb.
Karitas was working as a waitress at Hotel International in Kampala, where she bumped into the wealthy entertainment guru, Elvis Sekyanzi.
Elvis’ father, Gordon Wavamuno owned WBS TV where she made a name while hosting the popular ‘Showtime Magazine’ show.
Karitas also presented a midnight show on Sanyu FM.
She would later quit WBS TV for Capital FM to host the morning show with Gaetano Kaggwa and Oulanyah.
Karitas, a mother of twins also worked with East African TV until she quit the media to in 2006, to concentrate on her production, K-files and her hair products business.
Karitas returned to the television in 2018 to host the ‘Chatroom’ show on NBS TV. She hosts celebrities on the show which airs every Sunday at 8:00 pm.