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Ugandan Diaspora Editorial | September 2016 | UNAA Conventions – My Recap!

Thu, 09/15/2016 - 09:24

Dear all,

Greetings and welcome back from what was an eventful labor day weekend. Uganda North America Association now in its 28th year of existence held its annual convention in Boston as did UNAA Causes in Los Angeles. On my part I succeeded in attending both events first on Friday during the UNAA business forum before catching a flight to Los Angeles Saturday evening.

The convention in Boston received lots of mixed reactions owing to the presence of the many Ugandan MPs and Ministers who attended the 3 day fete at the Park Plaza hotel. Though the convention enjoyed good numbers there was concern raised over protocol as to why UNAA invited the Speaker of Parliament and his Deputy to attend the same event at the same time albeit at the tax payers expense.

Equally disturbing for some was the cost of travel and per diem for the VIPs and their support teams that came through to Boston. A local daily in Uganda had reported that business at Uganda’s Parliament had come to a stand still as the speaker and his deputy traveled to Boston to attend to the UNAA Convention business at a cost the paper estimated to be around UGX 2 billion shillings. Although I have been one to appreciate the contribution of the Uganda government and Parliament especially the continued support and recognition of UNAA activities I see a clear and present danger as the government has clearly continued to exact influence over UNAA affairs.  http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2016/08/31/the-observer-parliament-spends-shs-2bn-in-six-days-on-us-convention/

We may recall that it was because of UNAA and the commitment of the leadership then that the dual citizenship law was enacted. In as much as I appreciate the contribution our government in embracing the Diaspora, there is growing concern that UNAA’s agenda is now dictated by Uganda’s political players. I personally recognized more than 15 MPs in Boston and some hardly participated in the major forums that characterized the convention but instead some were seen in the hotel lobby enjoying happy hour while others took to the shopping malls around the theater district!

Of course the use of money to win support has also been prevalent as more continue to question the government funding of UNAA especially the terms and conditions of this support. It would have been interesting to hear or know if during any of the speeches at the conventions the continued police brutality meted at the opposition politicians and the respect for the rule of law was brought up for discussion by our leaders as a way to create a level playing field for all political players back home.

I will however limit my observations to the events I attended and some of the things I saw. I applaud UNAA for continuing the spirit of the Business forum a concept UNAA adopted earlier on and that has now evolved under new leadership. It is a good forum that should continue to be a corner stone of UNAA activities especially as some Diaspora members prepare for their retirement. Mortgage financing, Diaspora Bonds, Diaspora Insurance, Real Estate Development and Mobile Money Transfers continue to be avenues and areas of opportunity for growth and investment.
http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2016/09/04/unaa-boston-business-forum-making-uganda-work-highlights-of-day-one/

During the business forum I was happy to see Mr. Paul Cohen of P.H.G Consults a company that was part of the $1.5 million dollar marketing contract to help brand Uganda in North America and how they planned to do it. But I was quite surprised by the feedback he gave to my question regarding how they hoped to utilize the new movie “Queen of Katwe” in order to get the conversation started. However I got surprised when he said that they would await the movie to come out of DVD before utilizing it. Another question was how the PR firm had hoped to engage the Diaspora and institutions like UNAA to help encourage Diaspora Tourism. http://www.monitor.co.ug/artsculture/Travel/Uganda-hires-three-global-PR-firms-market-tourism/691238-3048424-3911fyz/index.html

Last year in October 2015 I was privileged to help coordinate the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) East Africa Diaspora Investment Conference under the theme – Expanding Horizons 2015 Workshop for Small Businesses among the East Africans and the Ugandan community living in Boston at the invitation of Mr. Spinelli the Deputy Director – OPIC. This one-day workshop provided a unique opportunity for participants to learn about U.S. government resources available for small businesses and how they can expand their business internationally.

However for many Ugandans who attended the Boston conference the challenge was how to access the million dollar credit schemes that OPIC offers. It was therefore great to see Mr. Spinelli and the Massachusetts Government Delegation back in Boston this time engaged with a delegation from Uganda that included politicians and MPs that could be in a position to raise this minimum requirements to attract OPIC funding if they partnered with Ugandans that now hold US. Citizenship.  http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2015/08/11/overseas-private-investment-corporation-opic-october-14th-expanding-horizons-2015-workshop-for-small-businesses-entering-international-markets/

Overall although the turn up in Boston was great, the organizers could have picked a better hotel in my view that could accommodate the numbers and the flamboyancy Ugandans like owing to the financial support that UNAA Boston convention receives from both the government and the high registration costs. I overheard a number of revelers complaining about their hotel rooms and the limited space in the common areas like the main bar and restaurants that they deemed too small to absorb Ugandans.

The rectangular arrangement seemed to have worked best for those with vendor tables as it allowed convention attendees to check out the various products and services on offer. The danger though was there were way too many vendors than the space could accommodate in my view this relegated some to far off spaces with little or no visibility. But I thought there was a wide variety of merchandise on offer, a sign perhaps that this was a Boston convention. It would be interesting to know how much UNAA made from the vendor areas in terms of revenue since this was an overkill.
http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2016/09/04/unaa-boston-images-and-highlights-from-the-day-two/

Later we saw several breakout events like what has now become UNAA tradition. The Political forum was extremely heated and featured the Speaker of Parliament Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga on the one hand and Dr. Kizza Besigye, Former Presidential Flag Bearer and Martin Byakuleka a Member of the Diaspora league on the other. The Deputy Speaker Hon. Jacob Oulanyah was also present —  A video feed by NTV summarized what transpired at the Political forum that was dominated by heckling from audience members regarding the cost of travel and why so many MPs came to Boston and what if any was the cost benefit to the tax payer! http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2016/09/06/ntv-news-video-besigye-mps-exchange-sharp-barbs-at-unaa-convention/

Earlier I had engaged the honorable Speaker during the Q&A for a reaction to our Constitutional Petition now before the constitutional court that seeks to interpret the dual Citizenship law. I had looked forward to engage the Directorate of Immigration on this topic as several of their Board members were among those that traveled to Boston but they too did not know when or what time their Immigration forum had been scheduled(Mrs. Musaazi had reached out to me). However given how central immigration has become to many of us I had hoped for a more public forum with part of the legislators present. If and whether this forum ever took place and some of the resolutions is a story we await. As more and more Ugandans acquire US Citizenship, there is a need to review the dual citizenship law and how it relates and impacts diaspora families and their children. UNAA missed an opportunity to help champion this cause for many of its members with the Speaker of the house present. http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2016/06/07/uganda-dual-citizenship-law-diaspora-community-petitions-constitutional-court-to-interpret-dual-citizenship-law/

The other missing ingredient of this convention was the annual general meeting or UNAA Town-hall that is meant to discuss UNAA Affairs. This too has become increasingly a watered down affair as little or no attention is accorded to the event. I recall the time the annual general meeting had been scheduled to begin there was a Besigye town-hall that could have forced organizers to push the annual general meeting to Sunday. I later learnt that this too did not happen Sunday as the Northern Uganda and the Women’s forum were scheduled around the same time leading to a lack of quorum per the UNAA Constitution.

UNAA Boston also enjoyed some comedian and ebonies performances an area some felt they scored however when it came to artists it looked like the crowd favorites were on the West Coast.

And so Saturday evening as I headed to the Los Angeles I set out to establish how UNAA Causes continues to survive with little or no government support, maintains lower registration costs, continues to attract better entertainers and hosts festivals in brand name hotels. I realized that theirs was a protest vote of sorts. The group also derived its strength in having a die-hard following that is determined to carry on the spirit for which UNAA was founded.

Although the UNAA Causes leadership is yet to introduce their executive I will say that they did deliver and offered their revelers a great convention with a unique set of entertainers that included Diamond Platinumz, Isaiah Katumwa, Winnie Nwagi, David Lutalo and Fashion icon Stella Atal among others. In as far as the hotel, food and entertainment was concerned UNAA Causes nailed it. However for some revelers the absence of the well advertised business forum could have hurt the Uganda festival that I must add has proved to be a force to reckon with. I was also happy to see that the organizers allowed their attendees to decide where they wanted to go next based on the crowd feedback. http://www.ugandandiasporanews.com/2016/09/06/unaa-causes-the-3rd-annual-uganda-festival-held-at-the-jw-marriott-in-los-angeles/

Overall we applaud the UNAA Boston and UNAA Causes for putting on these two conventions but as we head into another election year with contolled voter registers its paramount that UNAA refocuses on the very reasons why UNAA was established or why the impasse continues that divided the once vibrant institution. While some have profited from the split we await the new faces of Uganda North American Association to emerge as UNAA heads to Miami and UNAA Causes goes to Las Vegas.

A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other — Abraham Lincoln.

Long Live UNAA and United We Stand!

— Ronnie Mayanja Ugandan Diaspora News | www.ugandandiasporanews.com |
Ugandan Diaspora Network | Event website | www.ugandandiaspora.com |
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Skype | ronnie.mayanja | Twitter | @rmayanjahttp://www.linkedin.com/in/ronniemayanja

New Movies | The Queen of Katwe Uganda Movie Premier Release Dates 1st – 2nd October 2016

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 09:50

Phiona Mutesi, who grew up at in Katwe slum in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, has become the subject of a Disney movie. The Queen of Katwe tells how she dropped out of school early, but started playing chess aged nine, becoming a grand-master.

It stars Oscar winner Lupita Ny’ongo and British-born Nigerian actor David Oyelowo. The Queen of Katwe Uganda Movie Premier will take place on 1st – 2nd  October 2016. Save the dates! Here is a documentary clip that made Muteesi and earned her the attention of Walt Disney!

Opinion | My first experience at a Ugandan UNAA Convention — JW Marriott By Damalie Namponye, MD

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 08:33

By Damalie Namponye, MD — Two wonderful events occurred over the labor weekend.  In Boston under the auspices of the Uganda North American Association, UNAA, a number of our government representatives attended the annual conference.  Over in Los Angeles we had the Leader of Opposition Hon. Winnie Kizza, the Lord Mayor of Kampala Erias Lukwago and the opposition Chief Whip Hon. Ssemujju Nganda gracing the occasion of UNAA Causes.  Together they joined hundreds of Ugandans in celebration of Labor Day weekend, and networking for more effective individual and community growth.  In Los Angeles, we were reminded by our leaders of the importance of remaining active and involved in the affairs of our native country of Uganda.

At the UNAA Causes conference, it was good to see long lost friends as we celebrated Ugandan women and men who had gathered to have fun, meet new people, and shared accomplishments of being a Diaspora community.

After 17 years of living in the US, at the urging of a friend, I attended my first Ugandan convention.  I would like to applaud the organizers for a great conference.  I enjoyed it and met some wonderful individuals.  Moreover my life was enriched with stimulating conversations of global health, human rights and the challenges that families face while living in the diaspora, and I look forward to my next conference and getting an update on previous ideas discussed by my fellow diasporians, including the convention organizers.

Having worked for an organization that valued new hire feedback, and worked toward implementing those changes that were suggested by new hires, I value the importance of feedback; such feedback is considered valuable especially because when one is a  new hire, they’ve not been affected by the status quo, and can look at the system with less bias.  It’s with such fresh eyes that I write this piece with the hope that effective change will be implemented by UNAA Causes as they head to Las Vegas.  This is especially true since this is only the 3rd year that UNAA Causes hosts the annual Ugandan gathering.  Moreover, I believe that UNAA Causes has great potential, the organizers are working hard to improve and they are open to feedback.  As I reflected on the conference a day after the events ended, how does one determine that a convention has been successful?  What are our (UNAA Causes) objectives?  How do we go on from here and work toward improvement?

Having a theme: beyond having a good time not only benefits Ugandans in the diaspora, but those in Uganda as well.  I applaud UNAA Causes for the water project initiative, which once implemented will go a long way to improving access to water, which is a direct measure of not only economic growth, but also has a direct impact on health.  Along the mission of UNAA Causes of “promoting great values in our community”, in what ways can we promote the great values, and what are those great values that we stand for?  The great values may include health, education, human rights, business, and working on ways the organization can improve.   Along those lines, the following will go a long way in continuing to push a great organization in the right direction.

Timeliness: for an event that was scheduled to begin at 8pm with a festival runway, it was disappointing that the main activity of the night did not start until later.  Although we appreciated the DJ’s music, an update from the organizers as to why the delay occurred would have been appreciated.  Two other areas where an improvement in timeliness would go a long way in the attendees having a more positive experience are the main registration process and the management of numbers on the boat cruises.

I arrived at 8pm and proceeded to inquire about the registration process from the organizers.  I was informed no registration was necessary, but perhaps in the future, wristbands may be provided to ascertain the participants who’d registered previously.  About 3 hours later, I was approached in the bouquet hall and informed that I would indeed need a wristband.  I stood in line for almost 1 hour as people cut in line, and others paid for the Platinumz show.  This, I believed to be poor organization by the leaders of UNAA Causes.  A more efficient way would have entailed having the wristbands ready hours before the start of the convention, and confirming registration of each new participant then.  For those who only wanted to attend the Diamonds Platinumz show, a separate line, preferably behind those who had registered earlier would not only have been efficient, but also not construed to punish those who paid in advance or reward those who were late in paying.
The boat cruise was a positive experience for those who attended.  Per sources who attended, the DJ’s did a great job with the music selection, mixing it up with both old and new music to carter to the different age groups that attended the boat cruise.  Other positives included a three course dinner, and having a selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages since this event was also attended by families.  According to my sources, areas of improvement include making plans for people to pay on time and not at the last minute since late payment contributed to overbooking and failure to seat some guests some of whom had missed their hired chartered buses resulting in a late departure.  The late start left some revelers somewhat disappointed since this shortened the boat cruise from 5 hours to about 3 hours.

There are several areas where the organizers deserve credit for a job well done; I applaud the event organizers for publishing an agenda, which is an improvement from last year as no agenda/program existed, according to a participant who attended the previous convention.  The agenda clearly delineated the particular events that were scheduled.  Personally, one of the events that I looked forward to was the business expo.  I looked forward to networking, and hearing about the different kinds of investment opportunities that exist in Uganda.  I was disappointed to learn that this event did not happen owing to some logistical challenges.  Again, communication would have been appreciated.  Originally, the event was re-scheduled for 2pm the next day (reportedly announced on Friday evening).  Unfortunately, I did not find out until I had showed up for the 10 O’clock event.  Moreover, the hotel screens still showed the business expo for 10 0’clock.  A more effective way would have included not only making an announcement late on Friday night, but updating Facebook page and the official event website.  In this digital age, social media is important and should be utilized to the maximum.

In addition to utilizing social networking, information on which artists will perform should be uniformly updated on the UNAA Causes website and also updated on the Facebook page.  In case any of the featured speakers or artists cancel or cannot make it, updating the convention participants online, by email or Whatsapp is always ideal (this can be through a created database as most people include their contact information during registration process).  Updating the participants will go a long way in continuing to build confidence in the leadership of the organization, and give attendees confidence that the convention leaders are honest even when the plan does not happen as originally mentioned.

Last but not least,  a lot of people I spoke to were unable to find information about the convention online.  Again here, an agenda would enable participants plan better regarding which sessions they wish to attend and what preparation is needed before attending; this is especially important because part of the feedback the organizers received from the participants included giving attendees an option to pay for only those events that they are interested in attending.

All in all, I enjoyed the conference.  I especially liked that there was a lot of networking with like-minded people, some of whom share an interest in global health, human rights and how the lack of democracy, both in the past and in more recent times, has impacted Uganda’s economic growth.  I look forward to the next conference in Las Vegas, and feel privileged to have been a part of such a great and beautiful event.  The Black Tie Dinner and the clean water project were a positive ending for what was a classy entertaining labor day weekend. Well done UNAA Causes for with your limited resources you put up a great event at a magnificent hotel in the center of Los Angeles!

The author is a Medical Doctor based in California. She can be reached directly at dvn102011@gmail.com

Opinion | When Per Diem Becomes Income — By Samuel Sejjaaka

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 07:38

By Samuel Sejjaaka — You would never know what ‘per diem’ means until you got yourself a job with the government. I first came across this term in 1988 when I joined the public service. Like all things public, per diem (latin, meaning per day, or a daily allowance for expenses) was the trick to survival in that space.

Civil servants travelled East, West, South, North and nowhere. I recall the case of one bloke who knew how to ‘work’ the system.

There was a particular time he arrived at Entebbe, picked up a new set of clothing and took off again! Another of my colleagues kept on accumulating ‘air miles’ while living in rented premises. I just wonder why he bothered to rent a house he never lived in. It’s the stuff dreams are made of!

Three recent cases in the media brought out the per diem problem in stark detail. Case one involved a communications boss who had his gory travails or travel details exposed as newspaper fodder.

A tidy sum he must have spent on his travel. Case two involved parliamentarians who were robbed in South Africa, trying to live off two dollars a day.

Case three was the stoppage of parliamentary debate as the recent UNAA conventions took centre stage. All told about 70 odd MPs took to the skies to attend.

I first travelled abroad in 1988 on a government delegation. The journey took us from Entebbe to Cairo, to Paris and back. When we reached Cairo one of us could not attend meetings because it was too hot. He went off to buy silk shirts! He was one of the leaders of our delegation.

In Paris, a boss from a financial institution had to make a presentation, but he had not prepared one. He asked me to make one for him on my computer. I spent the whole night working as a typist. So much for the experience! These guys were there for per diem, not Uganda.

If you are smart enough to save, per diem can significantly change your financial condition, as it becomes income. So in most cases per diem is about making ends meet. Let us say your per diem entitlement is $ 550 per day as an MP. So on a 10-day trip you pocket $ 5,500.

You deny yourself, live prudently and manage to spend $ 1,000 on accommodation and food. That leaves you with $ 4,500 or Shs15,075,000 in today’s money.

That is about five months salary for a permanent secretary. If you can fix two trips in a month you pick up Shs 30,150,000. Not bad for an underpaid and over worked senior fellow.

But per diem is paid from the same pot as the salaries of the said civil servants. I have always argued that if we rationalised and paid civil servants better, we could change this country fundamentally. Because we don’t pay civil servants well, they are either travelling, or supervising their own chattels.

If you collect Shs30 million per month from travelling, you know in your heart of hearts it won’t last. So you work hard in your non-travelling time to complete your hostel, block of flats, or farm.

The only time you go to office is to process your next per diem payment. You never know when you will lose the privilege.

While a few well-connected individuals benefit, Ugandans generally lose out. The few who benefit from international travel enjoy the jet set life, glamour and the capacity to shop on Jermyn Street.

Source — Daily Monitor.

UNAA Causes | The 3rd Annual Uganda Festival Held at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles

Tue, 09/06/2016 - 11:55

By Ronnie Mayanja — On the evening September 3rd having attended two days of the UNAA Boston convention I departed for Los Angeles to support another Uganda community gathering this time at the UNAA Causes Convention held on the same labor day weekend at the JW Marriott in downtown LA. As a third convention for this group I was curious to see how best the group had fared from their last convention in New York.

With very few sponsors yet again,  UNAA Causes that is largely funded privately by Ugandans living in North America held another convention at a magnificent hotel in the center of Los Angeles. Attended by special guests that included the leader of opposition Hon. Winnie Kizza, Hon. Semujju Nganda, the Lord Mayor of Kampala Ssalongo Erias Lukwago, Princess Komuntale from the Kingdom of Tooro and a host of other notable Ugandans. It must be noted that this convention lacked any government representation a sign perhaps that the Uganda government does not and will not recognize the group even though it has now held 3 events and enjoys considerable support among some historical UNAA membership. Hon. Kizza did well in recognizing the contribution of the diaspora especially as one of the leading source of foreign direct investment in the country. She acknowledged the remittances but called on the diaspora to actively engage their leaders as a way to end dictatorship back in Uganda. On his part the Lord Mayor also celebrated the Diaspora investments calling upon the diaspora to contribute ideas on how based to plan for and create a modern capital city in the region. They both alluded to the tax payers money spent by the Parliament on Uganda on travel to attend the UNAA Convention in Boston. However this did not deter those who traveled to Los Angeles from enjoying the 3 day labor weekend. For a start the guests were treated to entertainment by Naseeb Najib a.k.a Diamond Platinumz a Tanzanian international artist with a cross over appeal who was the welcome act for Friday evening. However it was the much anticipated Africa Business Forum that did not happen due to some logistical challenges even though the hostess, a celebrated BBC award winner and news anchor from Nairobi Nancy Kacungira was already in town. On Saturday September 3rd the group then held their endless dinner boat cruise party before returning back to the hotel for more entertainment. With seasoned DJs like Karoli Mpoza, DJ Muhenda from Texas and DJ Kalemba from San Francisco it was then time for Ugandans to dance Saturday night away. Unlike last year this time the sound management team led by Mr. Serumagga a former UNAA elder did not disappoint giving the audience a real test of professional sound. However it was the grand finale black tie gala dinner that was perhaps the icing for this UNAA Causes group. From the food to the dinner entertainment that was led by the legendary Ugandan Saxophonist Isaiah Katumwa who wowed the audience forcing some onto the dance floor during their dinner was a major highlight and a touch of class. Fashion led by the Paris based Ugandan designer Stella Atal who together with models who represented Uganda, Kenya,Tanzania and Rwanda did not disappoint based on the reaction of the audience to Stella Atal’s outfits. This particular session was moderated by Miss Robyn Kristie a former NTV login presenter and Miss Sheila Gashumba another presenter from NTV. Not long after the fashion presentation it was then time for the best Ugandan Mcee in the northern hemisphere to take over the microphone and true to her craft — Nancy Mugga from the UK wowed her audience preparing them for headliners of the evening.  Appearing on stage like a real diva Winnie Nwagi asked her audience if they were ready to have good time. The musawo artist took to the stage performing for a full hour before Nancy Mugga invited another darling of the crowd — David Lutalo to the stage amidst the wild cheers of the fans who had waited for these headliners to perform. Soon it was time for the guest DJs to crown the evening treating all the UNAA Causes revelers to the different music genres through the years. The party went on till 3am when the convention finally ended. The group unlike their counterparts in Boston subjected the next convention venue to a vote asking those present to choose between two choices Seattle or Las Vegas. For those who had hoped for a reunion those hopes were dashed when it also became increasingly clear that Las Vegas was the preferred destination of choice from all the wild cheers following the announcement of the group’s next convention. However it will be interesting to see if this was a good choice for UNAA Causes that is now in direct competition with UNAA that will be heading to Miami in an election year. Overall there was an improvement for UNAA Causes based on the feedback I got though some still pointed to the lack of structures and a clear leadership for the group. Others expressed concern especially beyond entertainment what was the real cause for which the group was now existing.  However following remarks made during the gala dinner by the spokes-person and coordinator of UNAA Causes Mr. David Muwanga there was a promise to those who attend their conventions not to be party to partisan politics.  He pledged that UNAA Causes will continue to build on the commitment to keep politics out of UNAA, lower convention costs and put UNAA interests first by focusing on providing first class entertainment the reason why in his view Ugandans gather every year in a thanksgiving spirit and in celebration of their heritage. Although the UNAA Causes team has made it clear that they intend to stay out of politics, the team will need to justify the presence of leading opposition figures at their convention to the UNAA Fratenity and many of their well wishers! Ugandan Diaspora News attended the Gala Dinner at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles and now brings you some of the highlights in pictures. Please note a full critic and report card of both events will follow shortly [See image gallery at www.ugandandiasporanews.com]

NTV News Video | Besigye, MPs exchange sharp barbs at UNAA convention

Tue, 09/06/2016 - 08:03

Former FDC Presidential Candidate Dr Kizza Besigye accused Parliament of wasting taxpayers money to facilitate MPs travel to attend the UNAA convention in Boston. Besigye who attended the Convention fired the salvo in the presence of the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and her deputy and Mr. Jacob Oulanyah.

However, there was a backlash as some MPs accused him of running out of steam in his defiance campaign.

Maurice Ocwol reports.

NTV News video.

UNAA Boston | Images and Highlights From The Day Two

Sun, 09/04/2016 - 15:11

The Day two UNAA Boston festivities were underway attracting many activities that included vendors and a Besigye town-hall meet that discussed the post political situation in Uganda. However due to conflicting schedules Ugandan Diaspora News was not able to attend all events at the hotel. In a separate post we shall present the highlights from the highly charged political forum and the all white Boat Cruise.

[See image gallery at www.ugandandiasporanews.com]

UNAA Boston |Business Forum — Making Uganda Work – Highlights From Day One

Sun, 09/04/2016 - 10:40

On Friday September 2nd in one of America’s oldest cities Boston, Massachusetts  UNAA hosted its 28th annual Ugandan North American Association Convention at the Park Plaza hotel. Among those present were both the  Uganda and US private and public sector leaders who discussed various business ideas at the UNAA Business and Trade Investment Forum.

Under the theme — “Making Uganda Work – Translating Challenges into Opportunities”.  The trade summit was opened by our Ambassador to the US Her Excellence Ambassador Olive Wonekha who in turn invited the Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda to share Uganda Government commitment to the Diaspora.

Other guest speakers included Helena Fruscio, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Technology, Massachusetts, Stephen Pike, Chief Executive Officer of Massachusetts Clean Energy Center,  Mark Sullivan, Executive Director of Massachusetts Office of International Trade & Investment (MOITI),  Dr. Robert Stoner, Deputy Director for Science and Technology MIT Energy Initiative, Mr. Nam Pham, Assistant Secretary of Business Development & International Trade, Massachusetts, Dr. Lawrence Spinelli: Director of Outreach and Public Affairs at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and Mr. Harry Sullivan, Deputy Director for Economic Affairs, US Department of State.

Local speakers from Uganda included Mr. Abel Rwendeirwe Deputy Chair Person of The National Planning Authority,  Mr. Stephen Mukweli, CEO at PostBank Uganda, Mr. Anthony Kituuka — The New Executive Director of Equity Bank Uganda, Representatives from Centenary Bank and the Chairman KASITA.

Some of the sectors discussed included Manufacturing in Uganda — Encouraging innovation, lowering costs of labor and materials, improved supplier networks, Closing the energy gap in Uganda: Affordable Energy. Enabling Socio-Economic Development, Economic Justice: Fostering Inclusive Growth. Financial Access for the Excluded
of Uganda and the Gateway into East Africa.

Ugandan Diaspora News attended the Day One from The Business Forum and now brings you some of the highlights in pictures.

[See image gallery at www.ugandandiasporanews.com]

The Road to 2021 | Beti Kamya Promises to Campaign for Museveni in the Next General Election

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 22:23

Opposition party leader Betty Kamya, who is now the minister for Kampala, could have become the first senior political leader to openly campaign for another term for President Yoweri Museveni beyond 2021.

Kamya told a meeting of market vendors in Kawempe, a Kampala suburb, that President Museveni who is now 72, is still strong and should win another term to take his tenure in power to 40 years. Kamya also promised to vigorously campaign for the president so that he wins over 80% of the vote in Kampala.

 

President Museveni who attended the event did not directly respond to Kamya but cautioned Kampala residents against voting opposition politicians, saying they had not done much for them.

Source — NTV news video.

The Observer | Parliament spends Shs 2bn in six days on US convention

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 05:27

Parliament is spending over Shs 2 billion to facilitate the speaker, deputy speaker and a delegation of legislators attending the 28th Uganda North America Convention (UNAA) scheduled for September 2-4 in the United States.

UNAA is the largest community organisation for the Ugandan diaspora, often used as a platform to stimulate fellowship among members in North America, Europe and Uganda. The community, founded in 1988, boasts of over 120,000 members.

According to the UNAA website, the event this year runs from September 2-4 at the Boston Park Plaza hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. It will feature networking, business and education forums and political governance debates. Over 50 traders will also exhibit items portraying Ugandan culture, produce, art crafts, cuisine and textiles.

The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and her deputy Jacob Oulanyah will both attend the convention alongside a team of 78 MPs, accompanied by several parliamentary support staff.

Another team headed by the Leader of Opposition (LoP) Winnie Kiiza is attending a parallel convention to be held in Los Angeles, California. Oulanyah left for the convention yesterday, August 30 while Kadaga set off today, August 31 together with the other MPs. They will return on September 6.

Each air ticket for each MP was quoted at $5,700 – approximately Shs 19 million. All legislators are flying business class by Emirates Airlines. The total cost on tickets is $456,000 (over Shs 1.5 billion).

The speakers are each entitled to per diem of $720 or Shs 2,401,950 per day while the MPs are entitled to $520 (Shs 1,734,740) per day. The total per diem cost for both speakers is $1,440 (Shs 4,803,900) per day totaling to $ 8,640 ( over 28 million) for the six days of the trip.

At least $41,600 (over 138 million) will be spent on MPs allowances per day amounting to $249,600 (over Shs 832 million) for the six days.

Some of the MPs on the Uganda delegation are Kato Lubwama, Mohammed Nsereko, Zaake Francis, Lyandro Komakech, Peter Ogwang, Felix Okot Ogong, Cissy Namujju, Johnson Muyanja Senyonga, Tusiime Michael, Alex Ruhunda and Godfrey Katushabe.

But Chris Obore, parliaments’ director of communications insists that parliament is facilitating only seven legislators while all the others are meeting the cost of their travel and accommodation while in the United States. However documents seen by URN indicate that Parliament is footing all the bills.

Obore says that three other legislators; Peter Ogwang, Arinaitwe Rwakajara and Robinah Nabbanja, traveled in a separate capacity as parliamentary commissioners and are facilitated by the parliamentary commission.

Government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa is traveling to the same event as part of government delegation while the Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige is leading a team of six technical staff mainly from the PR department to run a stall at the convention and one legal person, to explain legal issues in parliament.

The technical staffs include Chris Obore, Hellen Kaweesa, Mohammed Katamba, Charles Bukuwa, Agnes Nabasumba and Guma Jackie.

The absence of both the speaker and deputy Speaker in parliament led to the suspension of sittings on Tuesday when legislators were expected to start debating a motion on a disputed private members’ Bill seeking to amend sections of the 1995 Constitution.

The motion was tabled last week on Thursday by Nakifuma County MP Robert Kafeero Ssekitooleko. An email sent to all MPs, authored by the office of the Clerk to Parliament indicated that sittings were called off until further notice.

‘Please be informed that there will be no plenary sessions today. Any inconveniences caused are highly regretted”, a message sent to MPs read.

Ranny Ismail, parliament’s assistant director for media and communications however told URN that the sitting was postponed because the speaker, who had been away in Mauritius needed to get a brief from her deputy who chaired previous sessions.

Another notice issued this afternoon indicates that there will be no sessions in parliament until September 9.  The notice issued by the deputy clerk to parliament Paul Wabwire states that the suspension of sessions is based on a request by the prime minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, to allow cabinet time to accomplish certain activities.

Wabwire says, in the statement, that while the speaker accepted the request by government, she has accordingly directed that committees proceed with their planned activities.

Government is organising an induction for members of cabinet, to be held on September 1-2, and a retreat with all Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, and heads of government agencies on government annual performance report for FY 2015/16.

Source — The Uganda Observer.

UK Dispatch | Besigye in London – Pearl Chat Video Footage

Wed, 08/31/2016 - 23:33

FDC UK chapter hosted Dr Kizza Besigye former FDC flag bearer and leader of the party. The video below appears courtesy of Pearl Chat
.

UNAA Boston | The 2016 Uganda Trade & Investment Forum

Wed, 08/31/2016 - 23:16

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Date: Wednesday , August 31, 2016
Contact: Benedict Kazora
E-mail: president@eadiaspora.org

WHAT: The Uganda and US private and public sector leaders will present and discuss various trade and investment opportunities between the East African nation of Uganda and the US across many sectors including Manufacturing, Energy, Tourism and Finance.
TOPIC: The 2016 Uganda Trade & Investment Forum “Making Uganda Work. Translating Challenges into Opportunities”.
Event Features:
·Welcome Remarks:
Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda
.H.E Ambassador Olive Wonekha, Ugandan Ambassador the Unites States of America
Guest Speakers:
o Samuel Kirubi, CEO, Equity Bank (Uganda)
o Helena Fruscio, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Technology, Massachusetts
o Stephen Mukweli, CEO at PostBank Uganda
o Stephen Pike, Chief Executive Officer of Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
o Hon. Mukasa Mbidde, Chairperson, Committee on Communication, Trade & Investment at the East African Legislative Assembly
o Mark Sullivan, Executive Director of Massachusetts Office of International Trade & Investment (MOITI)
o Stephen Assimwe, CEO at Uganda Tourism Board
o Dr. Robert Stoner, Deputy Director for Science and Technology MIT Energy Initiative
o Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi – Minister of State for Housing, Government of Uganda
o James Paul, Director, Boston Office, US Department of Commerce
o Hon. Grace Kwiyucwiny: Minister in Charge of Northern Uganda, Government of Uganda
o Nam Pham, Assistant Secretary of Business Development & International Trade, Massachusetts
o Hon. Mwesigwa Rukutana – Deputy Attorney General, Uganda
o Dr. Lawrence Spinelli: Director of Outreach and Public Affairs at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)
o Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa- Government Chief Whip in the Ugandan Cabinet
o Harry Sullivan, Deputy Director for Economic Affairs, US Department of State

·Context for Business in Uganda:
As Uganda’s wealth increases so does the demand for improved infrastructure, reliable energy access and high quality consumer and agricultural products. Recent oil findings in Uganda are projected to push the annual growth rates to above 10%. With the Diaspora’s increasingly developed human and financial resources, what role does this constituency play in enabling a sustainable growth? How is Uganda leveraging her ICT infrastructure to enhance service delivery and access to local, regional and international markets? How smart logistics is used to enhance intra trade?
·Key Sector and Break-Out Sessions:
o Manufacturing in Uganda: Encouraging innovation, lowering costs of labor and materials, improved supplier networks
o Closing the energy gap in Uganda: Affordable Energy. Enabling Socio-Economic Development
o Economic Justice: Fostering Inclusive Growth. Financial Access for the Excluded
o Uganda; the Gateway into East Africa
·Networking Reception.
WHEN: Friday, September 02, 2016 from 8AM-7PM.
WHERE: Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers, 50 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116
REGISTRATION: Online and Onsite registrations available
Call UNAA Secretary General, Mr. Peter Mukunya at (972) 891-2342; Eastern Africa Diaspora Business Council at president@eadiaspora.org
For more information, please contact Ben Kazora for media questions and opportunities at benkazora@yahoo.com

UNAA Parties | A Taste of Boston Nightlife with a Uganda’s Very Own Promoter – Alvin Kasule Drip Events

Tue, 08/30/2016 - 22:01

Infotainment — Boston is indeed a lively place. It can blow one away. And for Ugandans travelling to this city for the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) convention, you better not stay indoors. Come and experience Boston and its nightlife.

Apart from the American history, sports, theater, Boston city’s nightlife is legendary. And it becomes more enriching given the fact that our very own Ugandans run the show of Boston’s Afro Caribbean night life.

Alvin Kasule, a top dog in organizing exclusive events in Down Town Boston. Alvin runs a string of night clubs. Most of the night clubs are only 10 minutes walk from Park Plaza hotel which will hosting the convention.

So, finally UNAA is here- September 2nd to September 4th.   It’s UNAA’s 28th celebration. Lets celebrate our Ugandan heritage and history in style. UNAA has a lot on the agenda. In terms of entertainment, they have lined up Ebonies, Bobi Wine, Irene Ntale, Cindy Sanyu and MC Kapale. The after parties will be hosting by Uganda’s Alvin Kasule aka Alvin DripEvents as your host.

Alvin runs the hottest, sexiest and most talked about Afro Caribbean events in the city of Boston. And from what we know, he has a special milieu for fellow Ugandans in the city this weekend and early next week.

 

“I have been hosting my official celebration on the most exclusive, luxurious cruise called The Spirit of Boston. And now that we will be having a UNAA convention in Boston, it will be awesome having everyone experience the cruise party life with 4 floors of Entertainment, diversity crowd till 3:30am,” he says, adding some clarity to the event. “Most people have been confusing my birthday celebration cruise with the UNAA Dinner cruise. The UNAA cruise starts at 5pm till 10pm, if I’m not mistaken and my birthday celebration cruise starts from 11pm -3:30pm.”

The Spirit of Boston boat cruise party has capacity to accommodate at least 700 people. It is an electrifying, fun, sexy and very upscale party that all fun lovers don’t want to stay away from.

Alvin however recommends the following places between Thursday and Sunday:

Cure Lounge:

Thursday night at Cure is an exclusive international night feature HipHop, Afro Beats, Soca, Reggae, DanceHall where you expect to party like it’s a weekend.

Guilt

Friday night at Guilt is not a night for everyone and thats why we call it Fancy Fridays. The Dress code is extremely upscale. I can only describe it in 3 words. Sexy. Chic. Upscale.

Venu

Sunday is a day for Venu, Boston’s leading Night club destination. It’s the mostbeautiful club in downtown that serves a wide clientele. It’s a club you walk into and expect to collide into a celebrity or two.

Events line up and directions:

#Thursday: SEPT 1ST. 2016 (10PM-2AM)
CURE LOUNGE  located at 246 TREMONT ST. BOSTON

#FRIDAY: SEPT 2ND.2016(10PM-2AM)
GUILT NIGHT CLUB located at  79 WARRENTON ST.BOSTON

#SATURDAY: ALL BLACK UPSCALE AFFAIR • ⚓️ AFROPOLITAN CRUISE⚓️ • SPIRIT BOSTON •

11pm – 3am.
#Tickets  www.alvinsbirthday2016.eventbrite.com

#SATURDAY: SEPT.3RD .2016 (10PM-2AM)
located at 49 SOCIAL 49 TEMPLE PLACE. BOSTON

#SUNDAY: SEPT 4TH .2016(10PM-2AM)
VENU NIGHT CLUB located at  100 WARRENTON ST. BOSTON

Contact: DRIP EVENTS. PO BOX 407 WEYMOUTH. MA. 02188

Phone: 781.534.4115 | WWW.DRIPEVENTS.COM

Labor Day | Convention Weekend | UNAA — What went wrong.

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 22:44

UNAA Philadelphia Convention featuring a handshake between UNAA BOT member and the then Ugandan Ambassador to the USA.

By Ronnie Mayanja — The story of an institution once described as the most vibrant and largest formal grouping of Ugandans living in North America will go down in history as one of the biggest selfish undoing of any Diaspora community organisation. Ugandan North American Association – UNAA as we know it, was born about 29 years ago when a small group of Ugandans met in someone’s living room somewhere in Atlanta, Georgia with the desire to help bring Ugandans living here in the Diaspora together in a thanksgiving atmosphere annually. This idea was later formalized into UNAA,  an institution that now leads as one of the biggest sources of travel visas for those Ugandans coming to the USA.

According to some of the founders still with us today that I have engaged about this subject, they always felt home sick during the US thanksgiving holiday and it was then that this idea was mooted to help celebrate their heritage away from home. Of-course what was supposed to be a small gathering initially morphed into a major convention two years later as the news of the initial successful gathering spread across North America.

First forward to 2016 — almost 30 years later, UNAA is an institution that has withered many storms including attempts to split its membership.  It has also over the years seen a lot of intrigue that has somewhat resulted into the growing number of cliques and special interest groups more powerful that the institution itself. After the Chicago convention we saw the creation of groups like Ugandan American Diaspora Association — UADA try to fight the status quo but this resulted in a still birth even though the founders were fighting what they believed were genuine excesses among the UNAA leaders especially the executive branch at that time. When clear direction, a pressure group of like minded UNAA members came together and fielded a single block of candidates took leadership many did not think that the current split would also involve some of its members who today have become sworn bitter enemies.

At the heart of all the UNAA problems today has always been the invisible clique that wields so much power and influence that even those that attempted to put a check on this influence would be met with a group of well choreographed surrogates that attacked and demonized their opponents on various Diaspora forums. It seems these problems were later compounded when the new constitution enacted in 2010 and ratified by a few members who attended the UNAA town-hall in Washington DC led to the creation of un-elected office bearer positions that now decide UNAA’s fate without recourse to the membership. Some of these members have partly exacerbated the divisions in UNAA resulting in a permanent split of the organisation. Like all conflict there will always be those who benefit from such divisions hence the reason a united UNAA in the foreseeable future might be impossible.

Another factor at play has been the importation of Uganda’s politics to Diaspora events and Conferences. In 2004 the President attended the UNAA convention in Seattle and pledged to support UNAA activities however this support came at a price of influencing UNAA politics along partisan lines. As a sitting government NRM exploited the subsequent conventions to sell its party agenda among the Diaspora. In 2005 I was in the town-hall meet when some NRM MPs — dubbed ‘yellow girls’ that included Hon. Hanifa Kawooya introduced the subject of lifting term limits for the Ugandan Presidency to the Diaspora. Over the years we have seen growing numbers of government representation in UNAA affairs.  This influence was made more evident during the Chicago convention where the government delegation were encouraged to vote as a block for an NRM leaning candidate before the constitutional changes that barred Ugandan attendees from voting.

It is partly this influence that has prompted some members to resist the $20,000 dollars first pledged when the President attended the UNAA Convention in Seattle because its used to arm twist the UNAA membership.  With this sort of foreign aid to help us offset UNAA budget shortfalls we have seen a growing list of government ministers and MPs that show up for conventions often times to socialize with the diaspora. This year it has been estimated that the UNAA Boston convention will witness a record attendances of government representation judging from the more than 30 plus rooms that have been reserved for the government delegation. What of course will be interesting to observe is how much of our diaspora legislation will be up for discussion at the various forums.  With petitions like the dual citizenship law now in the constitutional court for interpretation we await to see how we as a diaspora community will be empowered outside the usual talk that characterizes the three day convention party weekend.

Today UNAA is now split into two camps a row that started between the Board of Trustees and UNAA Council disagreements. This rift was further exacerbated by accusations that led some intelligence officials to politicize the issues within UNAA as either those who were FOR or ANTI- government especially during the run up to the 2016 general elections in Uganda.

With a total operational convention budget of more than USD $250,000 dollars, UNAA has attracted so many players and interest groups many of whom join the institution for purely selfish reasons. As part of its initial vision UNAA was partly created to empower local chapters by strengthening their communities. However, gone are the days when UNAA local chapters were empowered to put up colorful bids that won the hearts and minds of both the UNAA board of directors the UNAA membership at large through an open bidding process for the next convention host. Now the process is stage manage to avoid locations with large numbers that could tilt a balance of power like was the case in New Orleans were less than 60 registered UNAA members cast votes that determined the outcome of an entire UNAA election.

Equally missed today is the system that allowed each service provider to present an open bid for consideration.  Today without advertising bids in this age of social media its unclear how some of those contracts are awarded. Previous boards named budget committees from UNAA members in good standing to create fiscal discipline and avoid unnecessary UNAA expenditure. This was all done to ensure transparency and increase accountability. In Orlando during Captain Frank Musisi’s reign as UNAA President the existence of a company not known to some board members was listed as a commission agent to all UNAA hotel contracts to date Helms Brisco and its connection to UNAA has never been properly explained to members.

 Today even after the convention is held, hardly any post expenditure reports are made public or readily available as stipulated in our UNAA by laws. Loopholes such as the ones exposed when a UNAA Treasurer was embroiled in a scandal after abusing UNAA resources and paying for his personal meals using the UNAA Credit card are only tip of the of the iceberg.  It was partly this modus operandi that prompted a UNAA member in California Mr. Jospeh Musoke to sue the organisation for the failure of the UNAA leadership to display its books for members as stipulated in the UNAA bylaws.

Although the outcome of this litigation is still pending in a Massachusetts court, failure to reign in all these excesses has made the organization more intolerant of dissenting views. As someone who invested many years in UNAA first, as a volunteer and later as an elected official; I feel sad when I see the politics of divide and rule extended so many miles away from home. Although some members have intimated to me about their unwillingness to ever see the two UNAA’s reunited I am tempted to really ask all UNAA members at heart after nearly 30 years of UNAA – what really went wrong. What do we have to show for our existence as a Diaspora Institution that has helped bring so many of us together.

Surely we can do better than this and I really hope those in leadership are listening to the people’s voices. Its not always about you but rather what the members want including those that may not support your agenda. So extending an olive branch is always a good start to resolve conflict.

This weekend as I head out to both UNAA Conventions — in Boston and Los Angeles I am keen to see which of the two UNAA will be more representative of the ideals for which this great institution was founded. However count me among those who still subscribe to the view that the UNAA 2010 constitution was a big blunder that has largely contributed to the current divisions we have witnessed in UNAA’s recent past. Many of the so called UNAA Council positions have largely been left un-constituted or left to hand picked cronies with no prior understanding of UNAA structures.

That said I still dream of the rebirth of UNAA as an institution that will work for all us and remain free of intrigue and radioactive politics for which the institution has become known lately. We also need to write the next chapter of UNAA that provides a micro-credit or mortgage loaning scheme for its members, acquires a UNAA piece of real estate in the diaspora and helps many of our undocumented members gain legal status. By now you would think that a UNAA spearheaded – Uganda Tourism roadshow would be part of the events marketing Uganda’s tourism potential. It should be UNAA and not private members championing legislation that helps reform the diaspora immigration policy since they now enjoy government support. If other minority communities can lobby for their people surely we can do better than hold annual convention parties were the outcome is always predictable!

For UNAA Boston convention details follow the link below — www.unaa.org and for UNAA Los Angeles Convention — www.unaacauses.org. (UNAA Causes past 3 conventions following the UNAA split have been held in San Diego, New York and now Los Angeles.)

UNAA — UNITED WE STAND

HERE ARE SOME OF THE VENUES FOR PAST CONVENTIONS

  • 1988 – Atlanta, GA
  • 1989 – Los Angels, CA (Cancelled)
  • 1990 – Dallas, Texas
  • 1991 – Boston, MA
  • 1992 – Woodbridge, NJ
  • 1993 – Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1994 – Los Angeles, CA
  • 1995 – Chicago, IL
  • 1996 – Toronto, Canada (First time convention held outside of USA)
  • 1997 – Washington, DC (Key Note Speech by US Congressman Donald Payne
  • 1998 – Houston, Texas (Key Note Speech by US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee)
  • 1999 – Atlanta, GA (Key Note Speech by Uganda Prime Minister Dr. Apolo Nsibambi)
  • 2000 – Kampala, Uganda (Key Note Speech by HE President Museveni) – First time convention held outside of North America
  • 2001 – Detroit, MI
  • 2002 – Las Vegas, NV (Key Note Addresses given by panel of speakers)
  • 2003 – Boston, MA
  • 2004 – Seattle, WA (Key Note Speech given by H.E. President Museveni)
  • 2005 – Minneapolis, MN (Key Note Speech by US Ambassador to Uganda Kimmy Kolker)
  • 2006 – New York, NY (Key Note Speech by Dr. Ali Mazrui)
  • 2007 – San Francisco, CA (Key Note Speech by Uganda Vice President H.E Gilbert Bukenya)
  • 2008 – Orlando, FL (Joint Key Note Speech by former UNAA Presidents)
  • 2009 – Chicago, IL (Key Note Speech reserved for US Senator Roland Burris)
  • 2010 – Washington, DC (Key Note Speech reserved for HRH The Nabagereka of Buganda)
  • 2011 – Denver, CO (Key Note Speech by NASA Flight Director, Mr. Kwatsi Alibaruho)
  • 2012 – Philadelphia, PA (Key Note Speech by former 3M CEO & Chairman, Sir. George Buckley)
  • 2013 – Dallas, Texas (Key Note Speech by Oxfam International Executive Director, Ms. Winnie Byanyima)
  • 2014 – San Diego, CA (Key Note Addresses given by panel of speakers representing Central, Eastern, Northern, and Western Uganda)
  • 2015 – New Orleans, LA
  • 2016 – Boston, MA
  • 2017-To be determined

Diplomacy | Envoy leaks Uganda’s secrets on South Sudan at the UN

Mon, 08/22/2016 - 23:06

L-R Kintu Nyago, US Ambassador Deborah Malac and James Mugume

By TABU BUTAGIRA — KAMPALA. A Ugandan diplomat has “accidentally” shared a confidential government brief about South Sudan with the UN Security Council, triggering a diplomatic incident and embarrassment. In Kampala, Foreign Affairs ministry officials in an attempt to mute the backlash held an emergency meeting with and apologised to US Ambassador Deborah Malac whose country sponsored the August 12, 2016 UN resolution on Africa’s newest nation.

Our investigations show that in the tense run up to the vote on the resolution, Kampala on August 10 prepared a two-page document to provide talking points to guide its diplomats in presenting the country’s position to the world body. Instead, Uganda’s New York Mission Chargé d’affaires Kintu Nyago, who was the acting Head of Mission, forwarded the document with its sensitive and polarising content unedited to the UN Security Council President Ramlan Bin Ibrahim. He urged Mr Ibrahim on the eve of the crucial vote to circulate the diplomatic cable to all the 15 UN Security Council members.

The document, among other things, opposed the US-mooted arms embargo on South Sudan and a phrase in the draft resolution authorising the proposed Regional Protection Force and the UNMISS, the UN Mission in the country, to use “all means necessary” in execution of their mandates.

“The resolution should not be a pretext to undermine the sovereignty of South Sudan…it authorises UNMISS and the Regional Protection Force to ‘use all necessary means’ which is a code for the use of force,” reads the diplomatic dossier that Ambassador Arthur Kafeero prepared on behalf of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary James Mugume.

It adds: “Resolution 1973 (2011) on Libya had this phrase (all necessary means) and it is a vivid reminder of the consequences. [The draft resolution] recognises that unrestricted access is essential for the Regional Protection Force to carry out its tasks as determined by the SRSG (Special Representative of the UN Secretary General). We must avoid a situation where an SRSG has such unwieldy powers in a sovereign state. The sovereignty of South Sudan should be protected.”

Uganda opposed the violent removal of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. And President Museveni, as a member of the then ad-hoc African Union High-Level Panel, led an unsuccessful diplomatic charm offensive across the continent to thwart the France and United Kingdom-led military intervention in Libya.

Five years after Gadaffi’s ouster and eventual killing, President Museveni tied the country’s descend into anarchy on the West’s “arrogance” in ignoring African leaders’ counsel for “African solutions to African problems”.

Sources familiar with the current behind-the-scenes negotiations on South Sudan say the US, whose President Obama said it led from the rear on Libya, consulted Uganda out of courtesy as a key regional security ally and frontline neighbour to Africa’s youngest but restive country.

The August 10 dossier that Mr Nyago, a former deputy principal private secretary to the President who was named an ambassador in 2012, circulated however threatened to derail the good bilateral relations. The envoy was unavailable over two days when we tried to reach him by telephone. In Kampala, PS Mugume said he had apologised and been sanctioned over the unauthorised disclosure of sensitive information.

“The officer (Nyago) has been cautioned and all Heads of Missions briefed to distinguish between internal briefing documents and what they can share,” he said. The diplomatic incident brings to the fore the debate about the hazards of staffing Uganda’s Foreign Service with political appointees, majority of whom are election losers.
This newspaper in an article following the 2012 reshuffle of the ambassadors established that only eight out of 34 Heads of Missions at the time were career diplomats.

The result has been tension and ugly power fights between career diplomats and politicians parachuted and installed as their supervisors, declining quality of representation of Uganda in foreign capitals and, as it happened at the UN on August 11, avoidable diplomatic gaffes.

On Friday, Ambassador Mugume said the Chargé d’affaires was “understandably overwhelmed and doesn’t know” classification and handling of different diplomatic correspondences as the substantive Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Richard Nduhura, was on leave.

Uganda has since reached out to parties that received the dossier to explain that it was “circulated in error”, although the points in the document “were genuine concerns.”

The meeting with US Ambassador Malac in Kampala, according to Mugume, was held because “we didn’t want them to misunderstand that we were against the IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) summit resolution”. Mr Chris Brown, the spokesman for the US embassy in Kampala, said they do not comment on “diplomatic discussions”.

IGAD Plus leaders in a July 16 summit attended by, among others, President Museveni, agreed on the deployment of a Regional Protection Force in South Sudan and extension of the tenure of UNMISS and expansion of its mandate.

Uganda’s position as elucidated in the new document appeared to contrast its July commitment, which some in UN circles interpreted as a lack of unified support within eastern Africa for the proposed South Sudan solution. That notwithstanding, the UN Security Council passed the US-sponsored resolution by 11:4 vote; slapping a one-year arms embargo, an authorization for UNMISS to use “all means necessary” in execution of its mandate, a call for unrestrained access to UN personnel and demand for South Sudan’s government to comply with the resolution unconditionally.

The provisions of the resolutions, as passed, was a diplomatic kick in the teeth of Uganda whose troops, the UPDF, fought alongside the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army or SPLA against Khartoum forces, leading first to the 2005 peace deal and, in 2011, a referendum and independence. The latest bout of violence in Juba has pushed some 52, 000 South Sudanese as refugees in Uganda, according to an August 2, 2016 UN refugee agency update, underlining Uganda’s legitimate interest in the evolving situation in the country.

President Museveni on Friday, August 19, tweeted that he had met with South Sudanese security officials led by SPLA Chief of General Staff, Gen Paul Malong, but details of their conversation were not immediately available.

tbutagira@ug.nationmedia.com

Source — Daily Monitor

Tourism & Travel | MPs accuse Uganda Tourism Board of failing to market Uganda

Thu, 08/18/2016 - 23:41

Members of Parliament lashed out at the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) for what they called the failure to promote Uganda as a tourist destination. UTB officials led by the chief executive officer Stephen Asiimwe and head of marketing Edwin Muzahura appeared before Parliament’s committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry on Tuesday to make a presentation on activities and strategies being undertaken by the board.

Asiimwe told the committee that the board has to operate within a budget of only Shs 11.4bn, money he said is inadequate to execute its plans. He noted that the board needs to carry out training exercises for tour operators, guides and hospitality staff across the country as well as continue with marketing Uganda abroad through foreign public relation agencies.

Tourists at Ngamba island

Asiimwe also criticized the continued levy of 18 percent value added tax (VAT) on hotels upcountry as having a negative toll on the sector.

“There is still a challenge on upcountry accommodation. Government has been charging 18 percent VAT. Now, what happens there, is that, every time a visitor comes to a hotel in an upcountry facility where the majority of the leisure tourists go, the VAT is put on the visitor. Then they pay more money, the experience is more expensive and you become less competitive. The issue of national carrier is still very critical. By last week, getting a ticket to Kenya was $800”, he said.

However, some MPs on the committee dismissed the presentation as merely ‘cosmetic’, containing no concrete and viable strategy to increase tourism revenue. The legislators insisted that funding was not the major setback dogging the board. Moses Balyeku, the Jinja West MP, told UTB officials to be more creative and bring in more money to the country.

“Government can’t keep [on] giving you money all the time, it is not there. You need to be more enterprising. Get your own money. UWA [Uganda Wildlife Authority] makes its own money. You have a board member here from UWA who sits on your board. What value does he bring on your board. What value does hotel owners does the hotel owners bring on your board? You first market us as Uganda, as a tourist destination and brand us. The reason why we have been singing all these years is, the other time we spent money on CNN that we are marketing Uganda in a wrong way.”, he said.

FC Barcelona legends enjoying a boat ride on river Nile recently

Dokolo county MP Felix Okot Ogong criticized the board for presenting the same challenges to the committee every year without ever finding solutions.

“I find a problem with the tourism board here. They are into other things but not focusing on what should promote tourism. I think this time, we should do it differently. You have Shs 11bn. Most people don’t have those billions of shillings but how efficiently are you using it? Is it being effectively used to promote what we are saying. The problem actually to me, [committee] chairman, lies with the board”, he said.

But Asiimwe insisted that Uganda had the best tourism master plan on the continent and stressed that the sector had the potential to fund the nation’s entire budget. He however noted that there needed to be a fundamental shift in priorities and attitudes as far as tourism is concerned.

“If you read the UTB tourism master plan, it is a 10-year fantastic paper, countries are clamoring to own it, countries are dying to own it. In terms of what it takes to market this country, we have but we need a fundamental shift in the way we look at its products. And I really insist, this thing needs to be taken beyond just the committee but of course the committee can spearhead this and we fundamentally look at tourism as a very important sector”, Asiimwe said.

Despite underfunding, in FY 2014/15, sector contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased to Shs 6.3 trillion (9 percent of GDP) up from 5.6 trillion (7.9 percent of GDP) the previous year. In the same period, the number of tourists increased from 1,206,334 visitors in 2013 to 1,266, 046 visitors in 2014. UTB attributed this to better marketing strategies.

Source — The Uganda Observer.

Inspiring Stories | Akoma Media | A Journey of Reinvention By Zain Verji

Mon, 08/15/2016 - 18:06

It’s been a two-year breathless roller coaster going from Big Name Global Corporation to Just Me LLC. After an amazing fourteen years at CNN and magnificent personal and professional life experiences, it was time to reinvent myself. I was at the top of my game, but I had flat-lined. There was no more growth. I needed inspiration. I needed to regain a sense of control. I joined CNN at 25. I was 40. I could no longer see a clear path forward.

The only avenue where I felt in charge of myself was writing. I was accepted into a two-year Masters program in Creative Writing at Oxford University. It offered me a psychological outlet in prose and poetry, which also allowed me to pivot professionally and seek an alternative path forward.

Months after leaving CNN, there was a moment of deep dread when I realized reinvention was not simply hitting reset. Revival does not come without the hard work of self-reflection, stripping away self-perception, standing naked in front of your fragile self and determining a meaningful course forward.

 

The transition to being an entrepreneur has been tough. After all, who would I really be in the world without the power of a recognizable brand by my face? I’ve always needed it to define myself, I thought. I’ve learned that I do not.

There were many times I was sure I would sink. While stuck in quicksand, I questioned my choices dozens of times. I was throwing myself off a cliff into a technology start up, that almost all those who loved me told me not to pursue, and instead recommended that I parlay global recognition and my Rolodex into lucrative contracts. After all, I had no idea how to do it. That part was accurate.

But my passion trumped my fear. A desire to realize a vision was stronger than all the skepticism thrown my way. A belief in my own ideas became more important than executing someone else’s. I would rather try and fail, than not try at all.

Each day brings with it a large dose of self-reflection, self-motivation, self-flagellation and self-doubt. The range of skills, discipline, and steely self-belief called into play in building a start up from the trenches has been mind-blowing. The extent of loneliness involved in this enterprise has been harsh.

Leading a TV show team was not leading a business. I knew I wanted to build a digital media network focused on African storytelling. What was it exactly, what gap were we addressing specifically, and what was the business model? An incredible core team has built akomanet.com.

aKoma Media

We are an Africa-focused content and storytelling platform. We are fostering a community where a combination of user-generated content and original content about Africa and its diaspora is being created, published and shared with the world. We want to capture the diverse and creative energy of the continent, and from our own local African perspectives.

We have built a content management system called Myst (My Studio) that allows for easy content creation on mobile phones for video, writing, photo storytelling and audio podcasts.

We have developed our own talent network called ‘Tribe’, where we nurture talent and give them our expertise, and access our professional contacts, to develop their skills. We provide the blank canvas for their work.

Creating aKoma has taken patience, something I have had to learn. I have ditched reading novels for books like, ‘The Lean Start Up’, ‘Creativity Inc.’ and ‘Traction’. I’ve had to understand market size, value propositions, the lean canvas; digital product development tools such as pivotal tracker, data analytics, hero images, legal releases, marketing plans and much more. It’s been terrifying. It has been exciting. It has been all consuming.

Source — Akoma Media

Opinion | Uganda’s much-discussed bailout – By Andrew Mwenda

Mon, 08/15/2016 - 17:42

If Uganda has to intervene to help distressed companies, it must be driven by the desire to avoid contagion. The failure of some of the distressed companies can lead to the failure of banks with worse consequences than the costs of a bailout.

Secondly, an economy is a circular flow of income: one person’s expenditure is another person’s income. Distressed companies must have suppliers who depend on them for business. If they go under, this may impact the ability of their suppliers to service their own loans as well.

In Uganda’s case, it may be advisable to work with the central bank to relax prudential rules, based on a government guarantee. The aim would be to help commercial banks and their customers to restructure loans in a more comprehensive way than is right now allowed by the Financial Institutions Act. The loan maturity period could be lengthened and interest costs reduced. This will keep commercial banks’ balance sheets healthy without taking away the responsibility and pressure on them to collect the debt and the risk of failing to do so.

Companies that are facing a short-term liquidity squeeze due to factors such as conflict in South Sudan, delayed payment from government, price volatility, customers who have failed to pay, low sales, termination of business contracts, breakdown of key equipment, fraud and poor management can restructure, improve themselves and pay back. Those that are uncompetitive or undisciplined will go under. That is why government should not cherry pick whom to help and whom not to. Any government committee mandated to set criteria for a bailout will become a theatre of influence peddling and corruption leading to acrimony and political contestation.

The problem facing banks right now, as stated by Uganda’s leading tycoon and owner of Crane Bank, Sudir Ruparelia, is that half of Kampala is on sale. If banks offload all collateral on the market, there will be a collapse of the real estate market. This is in large part because those in the best position to buy real estate are also the ones who are distressed. Those that are not distressed are still hedging their bets and are unlikely to put their money into brick and motor given the prevailing economic uncertainty.

I agree real estate prices in (especially) Kampala have been overpriced and there is need to let them come down to reflect actual fundamentals of the economy.

But it would be disastrous to let the housing market collapse totally. This could easily infect practically everyone because real estate is the main collateral banks use to lend. Its collapse will force banks to revalue their collateral and ask borrowers to find more security or recall the loans, a factor that will cause many more loans to go bad.

Relaxing a strict enforcement of prudential rules by the central bank means that government will not spend any taxpayer money on the bailout. It also means that neither the lenders nor the borrowers have been let off the hook – they will only have been given a short (one to two years) breather. But it has potential to help healthy companies restructure and survive while the weak ones collapse and go out of business. It will also help the central bank dissuade commercial banks from their exaggerated interest rates. The ball is in the central bank’s court.

Source — The Independent Magazine.

Boston Events | Women of Purpose International (WOPI) Conference | Aug19th Thru 21st From 6:30pm -10pm

Wed, 08/10/2016 - 07:35
Women of Purpose International (WOPI) are thrilled to extend this invite to all friends, well wishers on August 19th thru 21st, 2016 at 6:30PM-10PM and Sunday doors open at 4:00PM.  Please join us for our 9th Annual Women of Purpose Conference. The event will be held at Victory Family Church at 161 North St, Newtonville MA 02460. Our theme: Travail: Isaiah 66:7-8 FOR AS SOON AS ZION TRAVAILED, SHE BROUGHT FORTH HER CHILDREN.  We have great speakers Apostle Grace Lubega from Phaneroo Ministries  Uganda Prophetess Sarah Morgan From Women of Vision Califonia Pastor Waswa Godfrey one of the twin Brothers Uganda Bishop Munene Edward Uganda. He will speak about the issues of Women Men, Women, Childeren, Janja’s and all the youth are invited Come and hear about the  Projects that WOPI is going start in Uganda that will impact our nation. Lots of testimonies. Lunch on Sunday @ 3:00 pmOur Mission at Women of Purpose International is to use Fellowship to empower immigrant women to achieve their preordained destinies. We organize forums for a cultural spectrum of women to share ideas, grow self-confidence, and achieve their dreams.  Our Ministry partners with both religious and secular institutions to heal, deliver, support and motivate.

Our Vision is to create a network of self-sufficient chapters providing support to immigrant communities.

We value families first, therefore, we are inviting both women and men to our 9th annual Women of Purpose International Conference. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me at (857)204-6067. Email: doros24@yahoo.com womenofpurpose

Opinion | Letter From a Kampala Friend | Beware of the dark world of the Internet – By Muniini K. Mulera In Toronto

Tue, 08/09/2016 - 22:53

Dear Tingasiga:

Social media like Facebook and WhatsApp are valuable tools for communication of positive and constructive information.  However, they are also dangerous forums through which cowards and small-minded people merchandise lies that they would not dare state face-to-face.

Once posted on the Internet, outright fabrications and myths become quotable sources for the gullible. Some unsuspecting cyber-citizens, believing that everything published via the Internet must be true, become part of the distribution chain of deception and defamation.

I was told that in the days leading up to the recent elections of the International Community of Banyakigezi (ICOB), in which I was candidate for president of the organization, some people descended into the gutter of sewer politics in an attempt to tarnish my name.

Whereas I did not bother to read the fiction that, I am told, was published on social media and the New Vision newspaper, many fair-minded people called and wrote to express their outrage.

Some, including lawyer friends, urged me to take legal action against the authors and transmitters of the defamation. I remained silent because I did not consider it worthwhile to dignify with a response the false utterances of people possessed of what the French call petitesse d’esprit (narrow-mindedness.)

In any case, I knew the fiction writers and distributers to be victims of the Tall Poppy Syndrome, a description of which is available by searching on my website http://mulerasfireplace.com/the-african-and-the-tall-poppy-syndrome/

They certainly did not merit any attention. They only merited pity and prayers for redemption.

By the saving grace of Jesus Christ, I easily forgive the slanderers and pray for their redemption from the dark and sad world of hatred and destruction in which evil thrives. I am very much aware of the politics behind the smear campaign. It goes with the territory when one deals with folks who substitute slander for reasoned argument.

It is to be expected when one upholds the truth in a situation where some people would rather engage in cover-up of criminality.

Diaspora Ugandans regularly condemn corruption and poor governance back home. Yet many are enablers of similar criminal conduct in Ugandan Diaspora organizations.

For example, a Ugandan pastor of a church steals the congregation’s money. The council members who discover the crime and insist on removal of the pastor from his position are vilified and slandered.

Leaders of a Ugandan Diaspora organization are caught engaging in “creative accounting” and other attempts at sabotaging orderly governance. They resort to slander and gutter language against those who expose the fraud. Their supporters loudly cheer them on.

Perhaps none of this would matter if acted out in some lawless village back home where subjects glorify corruption and misconduct by their rulers.

Not so here in North America where the law eventually catches up with you. A California-based Ugandan lawyer and others recently sued the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) and some of its former leaders. The charges are rather serious.

I am also told that the Inland Revenue Service of the USA is examining a complaint about UNAA’s alleged financial mismanagement and other poor compliance with the requirements of a Section 501 (c) 3 Tax-exempt organization.

These are some of the consequences of the failure to shed the old village way of doing things.

They will continue to haunt Diaspora organizations whose members remain silent or turn a blind eye to obvious shenanigans and criminal conduct. Silence in the face of criminality and other misconduct by community organization leaders is tantamount to enabling the perpetuation of such behaviour.

The Bible says in Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

The Apostle Paul is more direct in Ephesians 5:1. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”

Now, those of us who choose to boldly speak up and expose such sins will be subjected to defamation and third-rate fiction. But we rejoice because the Lord has already assured us in Matthew 5:11 that we are blessed when people insult us, persecute us and falsely say all kinds of evil against us because of Him.

Not that we are perfect ourselves. Not that we have attained the goal of faultless living and service to the Lord. However, we walk and speak with confidence, exposing facts and truths that may be inconvenient to some. We are able to forgive the slanderers because we are beneficiaries of the forgiveness we freely received from Christ who died so that we may be saved from life in l’cœur des ténèbres (the heart of darkness).

The Internet has become the Devil’s new dark frontier. We must be alert and on guard. Paul’s words in Ephesians 6: 10-20 assume greater urgency today. Encouraging us to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power, Paul instructs us to put on the full armor of God in our struggle against the devil’s schemes and against the powers of this dark world.

The devil cannot win when we don the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

None of this precludes the use of the laws of Canada, the United States of America, Britain and other countries to invite the slanderers and distributers of the same to a conversation with lawyers and judges.

muniini@mulerasfireplace.com

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