By Serestino Tusingwire
Ugandans are currently in great fears after reports that 750 former M23 rebels escaped from Bihanga Army Training school where they have been kept since their defeat by Congolese troops and UN peace keepers in 2013.
The shocking news was revealed on Wednesday by the Intelligence Officer at Bihanga Army Training School, Capt. Peter Tuhairwe.
He revealed this during the visit of delegation of Defense Attaches from UN, India, USA, Rwanda, France and Tanzania embassies in Uganda.
The team was in Bihanga to check on the situation of the former rebels, and follow up reports of escape.
The most recent cases of escape were registered on January 14 and 16 when 60 and 42 former rebels respectively disappeared.
It was reported that on January 17, 76 escaped and were arrested in Mbarara and were taken back.
A total of 1377 former M23 rebels were relocated to Bihanga Army Training School from Kavera in Kasese on December 10, 2013 after they entered the country seeking refuge following heavy gnfire in DRC.
They are currently 391 rebels left in the camp, 19 are admitted at army hospital in Bombo, one is under detention, nine died, 193 were repatriated, seven are on official duty in Kampala and seven are away with permission.
According to Capt. Tuhairwe, the Anxiety to return home is the major reason driving most of them to escape, while others are trying to join their commanders.
The (M23) was a rebel military group based in Eastern area of DR Congo, operating mainly in North Kivu Province led by Col. Sultani Makenga. They were defeated in 2013 by Congolese troops and UN peace keepers.
The lord mayor of Kampala Erias Lukwago is this week set to schedule an emergency meeting with the leadership of Owino market to devise means of saving their land over 4billion debt.
The debt arose from a loan, which Owino Market vendors acquired from Dfcu bank in 2011 for the lease of land, on which the market sits, from Kampala Capital City Authority.
However, the vendors failed to clear the debt which made Dfcu run to court seeking for legal settlement of the issue.
High court in its ruling recently ordered for the attachment and sale of property of Owino market vendors in order to recover the money for the bank loan.
Responding to court order, Lukwago said the government is to blame because it was its responsibility to construct the market for vendors something which pushed them to borrow this loan.
“If the government had built the market, the vendors wouldn’t be forced to acquire loan,” Lukwago said.
He said that as KCCA leaders, their hands are tied since their budget was cut by the government from 563 billion to 314 billion, therefore they cannot do much but he is optimistic that in the meeting, they will be able to come up with a lasting solution to save the land for vendors.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has ordered the deployment of about 440 troops to maintain law and order in parliament for his annual state of the nation address on Thursday.
A statement from the president’s office released on Tuesday said Zuma had authorised the deployment of soldiers to work with the police.
It is the first time that troops will have a security rather than a ceremonial role.
Opposition parties have condemned the decision as a “declaration of war”.
Previous addresses by Zuma have been marred by protests and brawls as opposition MPs demanded his resignation.
Zuma has been dogged by corruption allegations for more than a decade.
According to reports quoted in a local media, intelligence sources have warned there could be massive uprisings at today’s event. Their alerts prompted fears that the police would not be able to cope on their own.
Past state of the nation speeches have been marred by chaos in parliament.
Since winning seats in 2014, members of the Economic Freedom Fighters’ party (EFF) have caused disruption by chanting and jeering at the president over allegations of corruption.
In 2015, EFF members were removed from the chamber by security guards disguised as waiters.
But the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has condemned the president’s decision, describing the move as “deeply concerning”.
“President Zuma’s deliberate use of the words ‘law and order’ in his statement points to an excessive use of the army outside of their ceremonial role in the annual fanfare,” a statement for the DA said.
Somali’s new President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed is nicknamed “Farmajo” after the Italian word for cheese.
It is said he loved eating cheese when he was young, growing up in the former Italian colony.
He has dual Somali-American nationality and is known for his human rights campaigning.
In his fifties, he served for a short time as prime minister in 2011 but resigned after a few months following disagreement between him and then-President Sheikh Sharif Hassan.
He was not popular with other politicians as he portrayed himself as a man of the people, travelling economy class when he went on trips abroad.
Of the more than 20 other candidates, he was the most popular on social media – as he was regarded as a nationalist.
His main rivals were criticised for having the backing of either Ethiopia or Kenya
His supporters are opposed to foreign interference in the running of affairs in Somalia and want to see a change in the politics of the country.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has come out open on the need for a radio and television owned by the August House.
The speaker’s mention which ends public speculation about the matter is premised in the need to counter perceived “negative press” by private media outlets.
“Sometimes the issues they highlight do not necessarily bring what we want the public to know because they (mainstream media) sometimes accuse us… so with this radio we shall be able to give you live, what we are doing,” Kadaga said.
She was speaking at a public debate between parliament and sections of the public on Tuesday which attracted legal brains, ex-politicians and members from the civil society as part of a five day parliament week under the theme, “engaging the public in a people-centered parliament.”
The speaker said Parliament was committed to fighting corruption through fostering accountability, and implored the civil society to take part in the fight.
“We are committed to increasing engagement with civil society and citizens both in the works of plenary and committees of parliament especially the oversight committees.” She said
A radio and Television for Parliament is faced with cold concerns given that in 2005 Government through the Uganda Broadcasting Corporations Act, established UBC TV and Radio as government outlets to cater for concerns often avoided by the profit-driven private media.
By Serestino Tusingwire
An employee of Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), who benefited from the Ugx 6 billion reward, has revealed that he did not expect the money paid to 42 government officials as a token of appreciation for winning a tax oil case against Heritage Oil and Gas Company.
The committee on Commissions, Statutory Authority and State Enterprises (COSASE) which is investigating the payment met with five of the officials on February 8, 2017, to explain their roles in the case.
One of them under the support staff, Joseph Angura, an officer in the URA litigation division, revealed to the MPs that he was shocked to learn that he was part of the beneficiaries of the Shs6 billion payment.
“There was a time our administrative officer came to me to give my bank account. I didn’t even know why they asked for it and I was just surprised to hear that there has been money paid to me. When it was paid, I was told that we were being appreciated for the work that we did. Of course I was happy to see the money,” Angura revealed to the committee members.
“The handshake was paid to us, not because we doing something that was extraordinary. It was paid because we were being appreciated for the work that we did and that has always been our submission,” Angura added.
When pressed by legislators to explain what role he played in the arbitration case, Angura stated that he served pleadings.
“We had some instances where the pleadings could be drawn late and we were supposed to file them and make sure they are served to the opposite parties. I remember one time when I was going to serve the pleadings to Kampala Associated Advocates when they were closing their chambers and I was there begging them,” he outlined.
Angura is listed among the support staff and received Ugx 29.5 million from the presidential handshake. He receives Ugx 2.3 million monthly.
By Serestino Tusingwire
NRM’s parliamentary caucus meeting at State house Entebbe finally elected six candidates to vie for positions at the East African Legislative Assembly.
These were elected on Wednesday evening despite the first Tuesday meeting which got botched over disagreement on the number of slots to be voted.
The six successful candidates defeated nearly forty other candidates in the race to represent the party in the regional assembly.
The elected candidates include; Musamali Paul who emerged top with 167 votes, former Internal Affairs Minister Rose Akol garnered 139, George Odongo and Kasamba Mathias tied at 119. Two time MP and minister Mary Mugyenyi got 115 while former NRM youth chairman Dennis Namara garnered 114 votes.
Other EALA seat hopeful, SoftPower Communications boss, Sarah Kagingo lost it with 84 votes.
The selected candidates will be sent to parliament for the final voting which will be held on 27th February, 2017.
A traffic ban has been imposed and major roads sealed off in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, ahead of a presidential vote.
MPs will gather at the airport to elect a new head of state.
On Tuesday evening, suspected Al-Shabab militants launched a series of attacks, with two mortar rounds fired close to the venue where the vote will be held.
Residents in Arbacow village outside Mogadishu say jihadists attacked an African Union military base there.
More than 20 candidates are vying to become Somali president, with the top three proceeding to a second round of voting and the top two from that round going forward to a third and final vote.
Incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is standing for re-election and analysts say he is likely to be one of those who goes forward to the later rounds.
Results are expected later on today.
The airport is viewed as the most secure site in the Somali capital and voting was moved there from a police academy because of growing security concerns.
Today’s security measures include a ban on flights to and from Mogadishu airport.
Somalia has not had an effective central government since the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991. The Mogadishu-based government is backed by an African Union force, Amisom, made up of more than 22,000 troops and police, as well as civilian staff.
A select committee instituted by Parliament to investigate the financial woes at Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL) has revealed that the company’s debt currently stands at Ugx 700 billion.
The committee chairperson, Phillip Okin Ojara, who is also Chua West MP, told journalists at a press conference at Parliament on February 7, 2017, that the investigations place the total indebtedness of UTL amounts to Ugx 700 billion.
Ojara said that the money was accrued from debts to local and foreign companies, which provided services to the company, while others included arrears from statutory deductions.
“When you look at the debt portfolio, including loans and liability of UTL, it goes up to the tune of Ugx 700 billion and this is enormous. This is serious because you really wonder how a company can get out of this situation,” Ojara revealed to the media.
Ojara outlined that UTL is choking on debts from Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Uganda Revenue Authority (Ugx 58 billion), MTN Uganda and Airtel Uganda, among others.
“We are not very certain whether the capacity of the company will be revitalized so that they come out of this situation,” Ojara noted.
It should be noted that government owns 31% shares in UTL, with the majority shareholders; Libya African Portfolio (LAP) Green owns 69% shares.
The committee said that UTL may require recapitalization for it to be revamped and back on its feet. Ojara said this can be done if government and its majority shareholders inject more resources into the company.
By Serestino Tusingwire
President Yoweri Museveni has warned Members of the NRM parliamentary caucus against using the East African Legislative Assembly as a hub for employment opportunities.
“These elections are not just elections, these are not employment bureaus,” Museveni said.
The president made the remarks at the opening of the NRM caucus which is selecting NRM representatives that will be sent to parliament for final approval on February 27th.
Museveni challenged the MPs who are the electoral college for the EALA elections to vote leaders who understood the need for regional integration.
“You are not here to give jobs to jobless people. You are here to select people to support the integration of East African,” he warned.
Meanwhile, the election that was scheduled to take place on Tuesday did not go well as chaos ensued among the ruling party MPs over a number of slots to be considered. It was postponed to today at 2pm.
37 candidates will be tussling it out during the fresh polls to select 6 candidates to be forwarded to parliament for consideration.
By Serestino Tusingwire
The Lubaga South MP Kato Lubwama’s grace period has been extended after the court of Appeal issued an interim order halting the hearing of a petition filed by his tormentor Habib Buwembo.
It’s worth noting that Kato Lubwama ran to court of appeal to challenge high court’s decision formerly allowing Buwembo to file a petition out of time challenging his academic papers.
According to the interim order issued yesterday by the Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Chebrioni Barishaki, the High Court Judge, Justice Margaret Oumo Oguli should stay the hearing of the petition until the main petition is heard.
In the main petition before Court of Appeal, Kato Lubwama is challenging the procedures which were used by the High court justice Oumo Oguli to extend time in which the Election petition against him could be filed.
Responding to the order, Habib Buwembo’s lawyer Isaac SSemakadde said that it is unfair to halt the hearing yet the applicant failed to follow the required legal procedures in appealing against the High Court decision.
“The rules of procedure state that anybody who is dissatisfied with any stage of hearing of the matter before the High Court must wait until the whole matters is concluded and then make an appeal,” he argued.
Justice Barishaki however ordered his Registrar to fix the appeal quickly for hearing.
By Serestino Tusingwire
Elections for NRM candidates to be forwarded for approval by parliament are to resume today at state house after the first session was halted following disagreements on the number of candidates to be considered.
Trouble started after the ruling party MPs were issued with guidelines for the elections hours to the polls, which sought to elect 6 members to be approved by Parliament on February 27th.
When voting was about to commence, the MPs were shocked to learn from Dr Tanga that they would be voting for 7 slots. These included a representative each from North, East, West, Central and Kampala.
Furthermore, a position was created for the women slot and a seat for special interest groups, where workers, youths and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), fall.
This infuriated a number of MPs including Buyaga MP Barnabas Tinkasimire, Arua Woman MP, Maureen Osoru, Ngora Woman MP, Jackline Amongin who accused Tanga of tinkering with the guidelines to create an additional slot yet the NRM is expected to front only 6 positions.
NRM Secretary General, Justine Lumumba also openly rejected the 7 positions, insisting that there should be 6 slots to be voted for. Efforts by the Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, Tanga and Al Hajji Moses Kigongo to calm the legislators proved futile.
President Yoweri Museveni, who had earlier addressed the MPs in his capacity as party chairman, later ordered that fresh elections are held today, Wednesday February 8th at 2 pm.
With the number of candidates previously standing at 43, 5 pulled out a day to the polls while one of the candidates and former Bunyole MP, Emmanuel Dombo pulled out of the race shortly before the exercise at State House, citing irregularities in the process.
This means that 37 candidates will tussle it out during the fresh polls. Earlier, President Museveni warned the MPs against viewing the race to EALA as a job opportunity, rather an important and crucial service to the country.
“These elections are not just elections. These are not employment bureaus. You are not here to give jobs to jobless people. You are here to select people to support integration of East Africa,” Museveni stated.
By Milton Emmy Akwam
President Yoweri Museveni has awarded his son, Maj. General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, his senior presidential advisor a Jubilee medal in the NRM’s 36th Tahare Sita fete that took place in Northern Uganda’s town of Apac.
The fete took place on Monday at Apac Boma ground and was attended by foreign army dignitaries from countries like Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi and Rwanda.
The President’s son was among other army generals like CDF, Gen. David Muhoozi, Gen. Guti who were awarded the prestigious medal for their role in transforming the army into a pro-people force.
However, Gen. Elly Tumwine asked those who didn’t get medal to work hard so that their names could be among those to receive one in subsequent fetes.
The medals targeted senior army, police and prison officers with different ranks; and individual patriotic men and women (civilian) in the country.
Meanwhile, President Museveni said Uganda is a peaceful country courtesy of tremendous work by the men in uniform.
He added that the major challenge across the country is poverty but he is doing his best to eradicate it.
“Kuc (peace) is here in Lango. My major focus is to fight poverty in homes and ensure maximum peace,” he said.
The President said in his shortest speech that lasted only 25 minutes that he had secured a loan to tarmac Rwekunju-Masindi port road via Apac-Lira- Ogur- Corner Kilak to Achol Pii roads which has always featured in the National Budget every fiscal year, but no action was taking place.
By Milton Emmy Akwam
Professor Dan Okello, the besieged Lira district UPC party chairman under de-facto President Joseph Mbosa has asked Lawyers behind livestock compensation in Lango region to seek for legal permission so that Museveni’s executive chopper, all Ministries vehicles, RDCs vehicles, Police vehicles and other government assets are attached.
“You may recall that Museveni made it clear that verification and validation of true livestock beneficiaries were not done. He ordered for a fresh exercise. Now, I will rally behind Lawyers handling the case to go ahead and attached his jet to pay us,” Okello said on Monday.
Addressing the crowds at Lira Golf course grounds last week, President Museveni said there was ‘no money’ to pay plaintiffs who sued government after the Karamojong cattle rustlers looted their animals in the 80s and another attack by LRA rebels that caused the same atrocities.
However, Okello insists that attaching his jet would be the only option that government would get money to compensate the over 65,000 claimants who won a Sh2.9 Trillion Court case in 2014 at Lira High Court.
By Moses Batte
2017 has started a fruitful year for a fashion designer, singer and actress, Helen Lukoma.
The “Ndagamuntu” singer was recently acknowledged as one of the “Black Bottle Girls”, officially becoming a Luc Belaire brand ambassador in the East African region.
Lukoma is to be engaged in various promotional campaigns for the brand.
She shared the information about her new gig on her social media where she posted a photo of herself with a bottle written on “Let’s welcome official Black Bottle Girl” this captured a lot of applause from her fans as seen below;
“It’s not easy to stay in the limelight, celebrities come and fade, Helen you have been able to maintain your presence in the limelight, keep it up girl we love you,” posted Sam Byaruhanga, fan.
Oliver Nabuyunga praised Lukoma for being consistent and paying less attention to critics, “Much respect my girl, you are very consistent and you don’t pay attention to haters that is why you are moving forward, all the best.”
Luc Belaire was unveiled this year on the New Year’s Eve at an event dubbed Black Bottle Glow party.
Lukoma joins other celebrity brand ambassadors for East Africa who include Huddah Monroe, Judith Heard, Nick Mtuma and Anita Fabiola.
By Andrew Cohen Amvesi
Officials in Yumbe district have expressed worry over the HIV status of female refugees in the area.
Led by Aziz Aluma, the Ariwa Sub County LC3 Chairperson, the officials said most female refugees in different camps in Bidibidi refugee settlement area in Yumbe district have on several occasions, being reported to be HIV Positive.
According to Aluma, medical records from Ariwa Health Center III, majority of the female refugees seeking for antenatal services at the health unit have been found HIV Positive.
Aluma made the observations during a regional meeting with different West Nile stakeholders in Arua town on Monday.
Ariwa Sub County is one of the refugee hosting Sub Counties in Yumbe district which is a home to over 270, 000 refugees, mainly from South Sudan.
“Most pregnant refugees have been found HIV+ at Ariwa HCIII. This is very dangerous for us since the refugees coexist with locals,” Aluma said.
“Who knows, the husbands of such women may come out to have sex with our boys, likewise, our men may go for the female refugees in the camps hence ending up being infected with the virus,” Aluma said.
He added that the threat is real, especially in his Sub-County, which he said needs an immediate attention.
Similarly, Geoffrey Onzima, the Aringa North MP in Yumbe district also expressed worry over the continued influx of refugees in the district.
He said there is need for community sensitization on HIV/AIDs and Hepatitis B; diseases he said are likely to spread due to the influx of refugees in the area.
“If we don’t sensitize our people, HIV and Hepatitis B prevalence rate might go high in the district,” Onzima warned.
He directed the different stakeholders to join hands with their local leaders in guiding people on the dangers associated with the coming of refugees in the entire West Nile region.
Edward Cheune alias Ed Cheune’s love for cars is truly insatiable. He purchases ride after the other , while giving them custom number plates.
The latest we have is that South African based Ugandan the businessman has acquired new monster wheels Audi R8 believed to have costed USSD 100,000, approximately UGX 350M.
A close source inside the camp confirmed that indeed Cheune bought a brand new Audi R8, red in color a whopping 350M price tag.
Custom number plate ‘Cheune 5’, this now joins his ever-growing fleet that has a Ford, BMW, Lamborghini, among others.
His love for cars is undeniably one of the traits that differentiate him from the other wannabe spenders, who struggle to keep up with the standards.
If you didn’t know, An Audi R8 is a mid-engine, 2-seater sports car which uses Audi’s trademark quattro permanent all-wheel drive system. It was introduced by the German car manufacturer Audi AG in 2006.
By Serestino Tusingwire
The Governor Bank of Uganda Emmanuel Mutebile has slammed a World Bank report that shows that low levels of public trust in financial institutions is hurting the Ugandan economy.
Giving his closing remarks at the launch of the 8th Uganda Economic Update, Mutebile said the central bank has lived to its mandate of protecting the interests of depositors despite cases of distress and bank failures in the last ten years.
The World Bank report also shows that high costs and limited access to credit are constraints to Uganda’s economy.
Although Mutebile admits that commercial banks are making excessive profits, he argues that calls to have lending rates lowered can only be realized in the long term and must be done gradually warning that this will also expose banks to various forms of risk.
According to Mutebile, Uganda’s banking industry has made strides but faces several challenges including poor attitudes towards borrowing, a weak culture of loan repayment, coupled with the fact that many borrowers divert loans to personal use.
He has advised that for the country to develop it will need a much stronger private business sector with good business management and clear separation of biz and personal interests on the part of business owners.
By Serestino Tusingwire
Democratic Party has today confirmed Hon. Fred Mukasa Mbidde as the sole party candidate in the race for East African Legislative Assembly, EALA.
Last Friday, the DP National Executive Committee convened in a Special Meeting prompted by certain critical developments that demanded an unequivocal response.
The first question was whether the decision taken by the NEC to exempt incumbent MPs from primaries in the 2016-2021 election cycles should apply to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) election.
This was prompted by a decision from the last NEC meeting which resolved in the affirmative and a unanimous decision to that effect.
As the debate raged some party members wrote applying to be candidates for EALA. Besides the incumbent Hon. Mbidde, three other party members applied.
Accordingly, the additional three applications were presented to the NEC and the NEC taking into account the abilities of the applicants and the interests of the Party decided by vote to reject the three applications. Another vote was taken on Fred Mukasa Mbidde’s application and accordingly the NEC overwhelmingly voted to confirm his candidature. “Therefore the DP candidate for EALA will be Fred Mukasa Mbidde.”
The election for the 9 EALA members will be held later this month at the parliament of Uganda.
The body of the late Dr. Margaret Mungherera is expected to arrive in the country this afternoon.
According to the Acting Director General of Health Services, Dr. Anthony Mbonye, the deceased’s body is expected to arrive at Entebbe International Airport at 2:00pm.
Mbonye adds that a requiem mass will be held on Thursday at the All Saints Cathedral Nakasero at 10:00am and later a vigil will be held at her parents’ home in Mpererwe in Kampala.
On Saturday, the body of the late Mungherera will be laid to rest at her ancestral home in Butalejja.
Dr. Margaret Mungherera who has been a long serving medical practitioner in the field of psychiatry and the first African woman to head the World Medical Association succumbed to cancer of the colon in India on Saturday where she had gone for treatment.