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Updated: 1 hour 11 min ago

Museveni expresses on quality of education in Uganda

Sun, 11/06/2016 - 17:24
President Museveni

President Yoweri Museveni has expressed concern about the quality of graduates being churned out by universities and other institutions of higher learning in the country.

Museveni expressed his dissatisfaction in a speech read for him by vice president Edward Kiwanuka Sekandi at the 24th graduation ceremony of Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) held on Saturday.
 
 A total of 2,672 students graduated in different academic disciplines at IUIU main campus in Mbale. Museveni noted that while access to higher education is no longer a challenge in the country, the quality of graduates is wanting.
 
“Our biggest challenge therefore is no longer to access education but the quality of the product from education institutions. As of now our education system is producing job seekers rather than job creators”, he said.

Museveni said it is as a result of this, that government is focusing on vocational skills development to bridge the gap.
 
“The initiative of government is now focusing on vocational skills development. In this regard, various technical colleges have been rehabilitated and equipped with the necessary facilities to offer vocational skills to our youths.”
 
Museveni also expressed the need for more science and technology based programs, arguing that the 21st century is driven by unprecedented advances in innovation as well as research and development.
 
Museveni called upon universities to review their curricular to ensure that they incorporate skills in their academic programs, saying this vital in the struggle to transform Uganda to a middle-income society.
      
“I therefore call upon all universities to review their curriculum to ensure that they incorporate skill in their academic program. This is what is needed as we struggle to transform this country to a middle-income society”. 

Dr Ahmad Kawesa Sengendo, the rector of IUIU, said as a university they are fully aware of the challenges of living and working in the knowledge-driven 21st century, which requires academic institutions to prepare students to have the capacity to be creative and innovative.
 
He said the university is going to consolidate the gains made so far to focus more attention on science and technology programs. Dr Abdulaziz Alsebail, the Islamic University in Uganda council chairperson, said the 28th university council meeting drafted a strategy dubbed 'IUIU Vision 2020'.
 
He said the vision has the objectives of establishing a greater number of science and technology based programs, improving teaching and learning facilities for all programmes among others.

Makerere University suspends financial transactions

Sat, 11/05/2016 - 13:15

Closed Makerere University has suspended all financial transactions involving the institution with the exception of critical cases within the approved budget.

In a 2-page statement issued by the vice chancellor Prof John Ddumba Ssentamu to all members of staff last evening, the university council resolved that all commercial entities in the university be closed with the exception of banks and Makerere Guest House.

All contractual services will also be reviewed for possible suspension during the period of closure of the university. Early this week, President Museveni ordered for the closure of Makerere following lecturers and students’ strikes that paralysed operations at the country’s oldest and largest higher education institution. The lecturers were protesting a nine-month delay in the payment of their incentives amounting to about Shs 28bn.

According to the statement, all halls of residence shall be closed; no student allowed on campus, all entrances to buildings closed, and security will be beefed up to ensure safety of the properties of the university. Prof Ddumba also asked all university staff to hand in the university property not later than Monday November 7.

In his communiqué, all staff shall be out of campus with exception of only the vice chancellor and the deputy vice chancellors, the university secretary and the university bursar. Other university management offices such as the human resource, dean of students, academic registrar will remain on call and be on campus only when required.

"All university vehicles, except for the officers in the offices to remain should be packed by Friday, November 4 and the keys handed over to the office of the deputy vice chancellor Finance and Administration. However given that this timeline is expired, they should be parked by close of business on Monday, November 7, 2016," reads the statement.

All infrastructure developments are however to continue uninterrupted during the period of closure while other events on campus are to be rescheduled to other venues outside campus.



Ddumba to Museveni: Choose Makerere VC

Fri, 11/04/2016 - 13:14
Prof Ddumba Ssentamu

On Tuesday, President Museveni closed Makerere University, after students joined lecturers in a strike that had entered the second week – over unpaid incentive allowances.

The staff also demanded the suspension of vice chancellor JOHN DDUMBA-SSENTAMU and his team, whom they accused of mismanaging the university. But in an interview with Baker Batte Lule on Wednesday, Prof Ddumba-Ssentamu denied the charge of mismanagement, insisting that he inherited many of the problems pulling down one of Africa’s top-ranked universities.

What do you make of the closure of the university by President Museveni?

I’m very happy that the president closed the university. I’m equally happy that he is going to set up a commission of inquiry. You cannot have strikes every week, every month.

Let the government investigate what is the problem here. Is it because of Ddumba or it is a bigger problem actually? We did exams way back in May but up to today there are no results. Why? Is that poor management?

There is lack of accountability: the problem is for people to think that accountability is only about money. Do lecturers come to class in time? Last time we introduced books here for people to sign, they refused. 

Whom do you call authority here?

The president; he can appoint. How is it done in other universities? Is it through campaigning? It’s terrible.

Like the president appoints ministers and he sends the names to parliament, let him do that; otherwise, you cannot have people busy looking for votes. This is an academic institution for God’s sake. That’s why I am saying: let’s have the VC appointed by the authority.

But many people say the problem begins with you and the top management.

People should stop talking nullities; they should stop these blame games. They are not honest. In this university, the money is inadequate. You cannot talk to me that the problems we are facing are because of the mismanagement of Ddumba-Ssentamu when we are paying debts that go way back to 1996; was I the vice chancellor then? 

And I cannot blame the former vice chancellors because they also inherited the system. Why did we fail to remit the money for the retirement scheme? There was a problem; the money was not ‘eaten’. These are the issues we should be looking at, other than blaming me for poor management.

Lecturers say you’re unfit to lead Makerere University, that you should be replaced.

That is their reasoning but when you say poor management, that is too general. Let them be specific. But they shouldn’t divert us: the issue is money. We haven’t been able to pay their incentives; that’s why they are saying that. The issue is that this university is heavily indebted. Is it Ddumba who caused the indebtedness? Those are the issues.

When you get 100 milion, you say I’m going to do the following: number one, I must pay salaries; number two, I must pay utilities; number three is that I have to pay part-timers. So, when I have those three priorities [and] I find that the money I’m going to pay is beyond Shs 100million, what do I do?

Is that poor management? Or do they want me to first pay incentives before I pay salaries and utilities? That would be madness. By the way an incentive is an allowance we may, or may not pay. My obligation with this money is to pay number one, salaries, which I have done. That is why in June we failed to pay salaries because we had over-paid incentives.  

I think people should understand how they manage finances. Now, yesterday [Tuesday] they were forcing me to pay them another month: that would be more indebtedness [for] the university.

I have talked to someone well known to you and he says there are a lot tribal wars taking place in Makerere especially at senior management. Can you confirm that?

That is a good question because some are saying it is poor management; others are saying some people are fighting me. So, you as a journalist read through the lines to see whether it is poor management or intrigue.

I can’t say I’m being fought along tribal lines but what I can say, the problems of this university cannot be solved by the vice chancellor alone. The biggest problem [at] this university is the way we elect the vice chancellor.

 

President Museveni with Prof Ddumba Ssentamu

Can you shed more light on that?

According to me, the vice chancellor should be appointed, not through campaigns with people giving money to the electorate. We can’t go on like this. You go to the principals [colleges/school]: that’s what is happening. The system is bad.

So, you confirm that people are fighting tribal wars?

I wouldn’t say that; if you say that it is someone known to me, then quote him or her, not me. Just leave that to me.

You talk about a commission of inquiry; when is it starting and what are its terms of reference?

Today (Wednesday) there will be a cabinet meeting and I hope they will talk about it. So, let’s wait for the outcome of the cabinet. So, it is after that that we will know in details about the commission of inquiry.

There is talk that the money that is generated internally is not put to use; that much of it ends up in private pockets.

Those are just mere rumors; we ask them that if the money is being mismanaged, who of those people has ever come to me or the chairman [of the university] council or the chancellor or the visitor to say money is being misused and comes with evidence?

Does lack of evidence in anyway mean that money is not being mismanaged?

There is no evidence in whatever they are saying. It is good this commission of inquiry is coming up, so that we can find out whether money is being lost or not. Let me tell you this: last financial year we got about Shs 86bn.

Now, every month we have been paying about 2.6bn as our contribution to salaries, because part of our salaries comes from government and partly from the university. Shs 3.7bn is for the incentives per month. So, if you add, you get about 6bn per month. We no longer recruit staff here; we rely on part-timers.

We are heavily understaffed. We have over 300 part-timers; so, how do we pay them? We don’t get the money from government but it is internally generated. That’s a lot of money. In addition, government doesn’t give us all the money for the utilities; the big potion comes from here.

The former University Bursar, Joseph Karamagi, is said to have warned against this issue of incentives, reasoning that it was unsustainable but you allowed it to happen.

Yes you have done good research; is that also a problem of Ddumba? The question is: is this also poor management? That man was in charge of finance and he resigned. Why did he resign?

The same thing: I have been on record saying that I’m not in favor of the incentives, especially that big percentage.  When you make a budget of Shs 100m and your expenditure is Shs 100m, things are balancing there, yes.

Now the following months your revenues go down but the expenditure remains the same. In our case, this has been the situation, with expenditure remaining the same but with reducing incomes. 

In 2013, our deficit was about Shs 15bn; in 2014 it was about 34bn; and the last financial year it was about 19bn. We should have been reducing our expenditure in line with the revenues but that did not happen.

Me I’m on record regarding that incentive yet I’m the one who gets the highest incentive. Why should I complain? From February to June, we had incentives of about Shs 40bn; was that money stolen? No. I have told you what we have been getting every financial year. People are just misleading the public.

Moving forward how do we get out of these standoffs once and for all?

First of all, that’s why I thanked the president for closing [the university] and instituting a committee to make thorough investigations. Let’s make the report. I know it will take some time but let’s get it and see how we move forward.

To you it’s okay for the university not opening in a month?

No, no, no! I’m just telling you the practical side of it. The university was closed yesterday (Tuesday) and they must form a committee; does it take one week? They must see what is going on; there is no way you can open this university within a month; the report has to come out first.

But reports have been done in the past like that of Kabasa but they remained just that – reports.

That’s a lie! There has not been any thorough investigation of what is going on within the university. We have talked about the issue of election versus appointment; has it been done?

Did the Kabasa committee talk about missing marks? We talk about delayed marks; students not being supervised; people are not teaching; ghost payroll –  did the Kabasa committee talk about all those? No, we want a thorough investigation of what is going on.

The president made the right decision because the stakes are high in this university, and not because of Ddumba. There was the issue of salary enhancement: was that Ddumba? I have been battling students’ indiscipline; is that my role or it is that of the parent? Students are abusing drugs here: it’s too much! Is that all poor management of Ddumba?

You mean to say you’re powerless to do anything?

I tried to suspend students here over indiscipline then what happened? People said, ‘no you can’t do that’.

There are claims that you conscripted the University Council headed by Dr Wana-Etyem and it forgot its oversight role.

Have these issues started with Ddumba or they have been here before? If they have been here before, then it means that all the vice chancellors have been in bed with chairman [of] council.

The problems have not been in my regime only. For example, like I was telling you the 30bn has been around since 1996 up to 2010; this is money that government assisted us to pay. I came in 2012. All these problems didn’t start with me; these are just lies and cheap politics actually.

With all this going on, will you seek to have your term renewed as vice chancellor? 

You have heard what I said about elections versus appointment. In an academic institution like this one, you can’t have people campaigning or giving money to people. You never do that in an academic institution.

So, amidst all that, are you willing to serve another term?

I can’t say yes or no. But I can assure you if I stand, I will win.

bakerbatte@gmail.com

Minister Nakiwala petitions IGG over youth funds fraud

Fri, 11/04/2016 - 12:55
Minister Nakiwala Kiyingi

Upset by cases of fraud dogging the Youth Livelihood programme, the state minister for Youth and Children Affairs, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, on Wednesday petitioned the Inspectorate of Government to investigate the gross violation of its implementation guidelines.

The three-page petition is based on the minister’s findings from an impromptu visit that she made to Kampala’s Lubaga division on November 1 where she discovered that false accountabilities had been made for the project funds.

“It is not limited to Lubaga division. It is a countrywide problem although in the districts where I went, I didn’t get the chance of making unexpected visits to the alleged beneficiaries. But there are some cases that I got and I asked the RDCs [Resident district commissioners] to investigate,” Nakiwala told The Observer on Wednesday.

During the 2013/14 financial year, government released Shs 265bn for the five-year project which primarily targets poor and unemployed youths.

The funds are advanced to youth interest groups (YIGs) in form of a revolving fund but many youth groups have over the years failed to refund the money.

PROBE AREAS

Various reports have stopped at accusing the youths of defaulting but fall short of giving the reasons for the high default rate. Nakiwala’s tour of the Lubaga groups gave some insights which she now wants the IGG to investigate.

For instance, whereas records show that a group of 13 youths operating a bakery project at Najjanankubi along Busaabala road, the minister’s visit revealed that the purported youth project belongs a one Derrick Musinguzi who admitted receiving Shs 5m under the programme. He denied running the project with any other youths.

Records filed at the ministry by Juliet Babirye, the Youth Livelihood programme’s focal person in the division, show that Musinguzi signed for Shs 10m. Musinguzi told Nakiwala that he was promised the rest of the money in due course but hasn’t received it yet.

“He is already paying back based on the full amount [of Shs 10m] much as he received half of it,” Nakiwala said.

Another beneficiary, Mariam Kisitu, who runs a decoration business on Busaabala road, signed for Shs 12m but received Shs 3m. Nakiwala told The Observer that she was presented by a suspected forged KCCA receipt as proof of Kisitu having received the full amount.

The records also talk of a youth group at Najjanankumbi central which was given Shs 11.9m but Babirye failed to lead the minister to the physical location of the group’s project.

“The money was signed by the chairperson of the group, Dianah Nabatanzi, whose whereabouts are not known. I was told that she used the money to set up a shop for her mother; which in itself is wrong because [the mother] is not a youth,” Nakiwala said.

THE PETITION

In her petition, Nakiwala wants the IGG to investigate the entire Youth Livelihood Fund programme in Lubaga to establish whether there was compliance with the set guidelines. 

The investigation, Nakiwala wrote, should establish whether it is fair for the beneficiaries to be hunted down so that they can pay back the funds which they never received or received half of the money.

Once concluded, Nakiwala demanded, the culpable officials should be named, shamed through the public media, fined and made to refund the money.

James Onying Penywii, the director of project monitoring at the Inspectorate of Government, told journalists that although Nakiwala’s petition was the first complaint by a minister, they had received several other complaints from various parts of the country.

“So far, the reports coming out show that 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the funds have not been recovered probably due to problems with selection of groups of the beneficiaries, and we really think that something must be done to close the gaps in its implementation,” Penywii said.

sadabkk@observer.ug

Auditor general’s report exposes Makerere management flaws

Fri, 11/04/2016 - 12:37

The soon-to-be appointed commission of enquiry into the mismanagement of Makerere University will have its work cut out, if the revelations in the last auditor general’s report on Makerere University are anything to go by.

In the report to Parliament, which was signed on December 21st, 2015, the auditor general, John Muwanga, reveals how Uganda’s oldest university has over the years continued to flout financial accountability rules with a series of questionable financial transactions.

For years, Makerere has been gripped by a financial crisis, with lecturers now on strike over months-worth of unpaid ‘incentive’ allowances.  Starved of learning, the students staged their own strike on Tuesday. 

Later that evening, President Museveni issued an immediate order closing the 94-year Makerere University after the lecturers’ strike had entered the second week and the students’ strike was becoming more violent.

Police and the military were deployed in their hundreds to try and contain the riotous students who had gone on rampage, burning tyres and closing roads surrounding the university on top of destroying traders’ properties.

STUDENTS STRANDED

The impromptu closure of Makerere University greatly affected several students, many of who were left stranded after police evicted them out of the halls of residence. Among the most affected students were foreigners, including at least 233 students from the war-affected South Sudan.

Speaking to The Observer yesterday, Dominic Naturukoyo Kango, a Master of Journalism and Communication student, said he had nowhere to go, especially after the police advised even the private hostels to evict students.

“We are still here (hostel in Kikumi Kikumi) because we have no homes to go to until the management of the hostel tells us to leave. If they ask us to leave, then we will look for hotels to sleep in as we wait for the university to open,” Naturukoyo said. 

For his part, Albino Akol Akol, overall president of the South Sudan Students’ Union in Uganda, said the closure had greatly affected them.

“Some of us have been living in the university halls and we were immediately sent away when the directive was enforced. We are stranded with nowhere to go,” said Akol, a law student at Makerere.

Akol said he had gone to the South Sudanese embassy in Kampala to seek facilitation for his members to return to their capital Juba.

“If we are to go to Juba by road, we need Shs 50,000 each but the problem is some of the students are fearing to go because of the insecurity on the road,” Akol said “So, some of us want the embassy to get us somewhere to stay until the university is opened.”

Since fighting resumed in South Sudan in July, all major roads leading to Juba have been infested with gunmen who loot, kidnap or kill travelers mainly along tribal lines.

TUG-OF-WAR CONTINUES

Despite the closure, lecturers at Makerere University, who are united under the Makerere University Academic Staff Association (Muasa), are not backing down. In a missive addressed to the university council, Muasa accused vice chancellor John Ddumba-Ssentamu and his team of mismanaging the university.

On top of wanting their full nine-month-accrued incentives that go beyond Shs 30bn, the more than 1,600-member teaching staff body wants Prof Ddumba-Ssentamu and his management committee to step aside over what they call failure in management of Uganda’s premier university.

“Besides our demand for the full payment of our incentive arrears, we call for a thorough inquiry into the management of the this university by our top managers and demand that the said top managers step aside to pave way for a transparent inquiry,” reads a letter signed by Muasa’s acting chairman Gilbert Gumoshabe.

However, Prof Ddumba-Ssentamu rejects any suggestions that he and his team have mismanaged Makerere. In an interview with The Observer on Wednesday, Ddumba-Ssentamu said Makerere’s problems go way back before he was appointed vice chancellor.

“People should stop talking nullities. They should stop these blame games. They are not honest. In this university, the money is inadequate. You cannot talk to me that the problems we are facing are because of the mismanagement of Ddumba-Ssentamu when we are paying debts that go way back to 1996; was I the vice chancellor then?” Ddumba asked.

AUDIT QUERIES

However, according to auditor general Muwanga’s report, some of the audit queries are recent. Muwanga discovered that Shs 511 million, of which Shs 219 million was personal advances to staff, remained outstanding for more than 12 months without the university making any effort to recover it.

“The funds were advanced to staff to carry out various activities of the university. In the absence of the relevant accountability documents, it was not possible to confirm that the funds were used for the intended purposes,” wrote Muwanga.

The auditor general adds that the university has also consistently declared donor funds amounting to only Shs 10.9 billion from SIDA – SAREC projects. But it did not disclose other non-bilateral donor grants/projects.

“Without proper disclosure of donor funding, I could neither ascertain how much the university received from other donors nor confirm if those funds were used for the intended purposes,” the report adds.

The auditor general was also bothered by the Makerere leadership’s decision to secretly lease its land in Kololo to a private investor for Shs 1.5bn without the knowledge of the education minister.

“The proceeds from the transactions were transferred directly to the university expenditure account and expensed. I further noted that this transaction was not disclosed and reported in the financial statements under the memorandum statement of disposal of physical assets,” Muwanga says. 

Makerere University is also struggling with the problem of understaffing, with only 48 percent of the available staff positions filled.  According to the university’s 2016 fact book, only 1,632 of the academic positions are filled against the established requirement 2,774 of staff.

The auditor general also queried the rationale for paying more than Shs 1bn to external lawyers yet the university has a fully-fledged legal office. He said this could have led to wastage.

MUSEVENI WARNS

Meanwhile, President Museveni has warned that he is not going to tolerate the lecturers’ indiscipline anymore. Speaking to journalists in Luweero district, Museveni said his government would take a decisive action against the lecturers.

“It’s not good… that the teachers were not teaching and were given an ultimatum: ‘Go back’ and they said they wouldn’t. We had to close the university and really take decisive action,” the New Vision quoted Museveni as having said.

“I want to tell you we are not going to tolerate this kind of indiscipline anymore. Finished. This is kisanja [term] Hakuna Mchezo [No playing around], you remember. You cannot have somebody okutuga [strangle] government and say, ‘If you don’t give me money now, I am going to paralyse the country’. No, no. That’s not a good attitude.”

bakerbatte@gmail.com

Lukwago, Kabaziguruka plot to stop Beti Kamya

Fri, 11/04/2016 - 12:32
Michael Kabaziguruka

Out of jail on bail, Nakawa MP Michael Kabaziguruka has teamed up with Kampala lord mayor Erias Lukwago to plot how to defeat Kampala minister Beti Kamya.

The Observer has learnt that treason suspect Kabaziguruka, who was released on October 20, last Friday met Lukwago and 15 city councillors belonging to the FDC. Lukwago is a DP-leaning independent mayor, but he is working closely with FDC, which has majority of the 34 councillors.

The vigorous ties between Lukwago and Kabaziguruka further dampen hope that the lord mayor and minister Kamya can work together for the sake of development in the city.

Last week’s meeting at Kabaziguruka’s home in Luzira was meant to discuss how to defeat minister Kamya, who has vowed to “deliver 80 per cent” of Kampala votes to President Museveni in the 2021 elections. 

The Constitution bars Museveni from standing in 2021, by which time he will have passed the presidential age limit of 75 years.  However, many expect the NRM-dominated parliament to change the Constitution to erase the age limit. During the February 18 elections, Mr Museveni’s NRM failed miserably in Kampala, winning barely three out of 34 councillor seats, and none of the nine parliamentary seats.

And for each vote that Museveni himself got in Kampala, FDC candidate Kizza Besigye got two. Kamya has vowed to reverse that, but FDC is now targeting her.

Speaking to The Observer, after the closed-door meeting, Kabaziguruka said FDC could not allow Beti Kamya to continue trampling upon the powers of the elected councillors.

“The minister of Kampala and the KCCA [Kampala Capital City Authority] technical wing are trying to usurp the powers of the authority yet the law is very clear on what each of them should do. They think that they can do anything and get away with it. I can assure them that will not happen,” said Kabaziguruka, who also doubles as shadow minister for Kampala.

Kampala minister Kamya and the Lukwago-led KCCA councillors have been at loggerheads for months.  Last week, Kamya ordered the KCCA technical  wing, backed by police, to evict vendors from the city streets – although councillors voted to stay the eviction. 

“The minister shot before she aimed when she issued directives to chase vendors. She is now calling councillors to see how to handle the matter after it backfired,” Kabaziguruka said.

“The constitution is very clear on how people should be governed. There is no way we will allow the minister who is just appointed to disregard people’s elected leaders.”

For his part, Lukwago told The Observer on Monday that councillors would not look on as Kamya disregards their role in Kampala.

“We passed a resolution on vendors and the minister disregarded it. I met FDC councilors and our shadow minister to brainstorm about what we are going to do after Mr Museveni decided to use Beti Kamya to undermine us,” Lukwago said.

He accused the president and Kamya of giving money to various groups in a bid to buy their votes.

“When Museveni was in Luuka (for independence celebrations), he said he wanted to finish us because we are playing in his garden. But we can’t allow that to happen; we will do anything so as to reassert our authority in the city,” Lukwago said.

Nakawa councillor Kennedy Okello, who chairs the FDC caucus in KCCA, said as a party, they were ready to work with Lukwago because his vision rhymes with theirs. 

MEETING MUSEVENI

The FDC councilors also resolved never to meet President Museveni especially on things that are already provided for in the law. Museveni recently invited KCCA leaders for a meeting in State House but FDC councillors snubbed him.

“We agreed that it was not necessary for councilors to prostrate before Museveni just to get a salary increment. The president must stop intervening in every simple matter. The councillors by law can determine their remuneration and we will seek to enforce that,” Kabaziguruka said.   

On the same day, Kabaziguruka also met division councillors from around Kampala who belong to FDC. He said that the second meeting, which included a luncheon, was aimed at knowing each other and discussing ways through which all elected FDC leaders in Kampala can work together for effective service delivery.

bakerbatte@gmail.com

Govt offers Shs 250m for Muslim clerics’ murder trial

Fri, 11/04/2016 - 12:15

Faced with the prospect of suspected murderers financing the court trying them, government yesterday released money for the trial of 14 suspects accused of killing Muslim clerics.

On Tuesday, Justice Ezekiel Muhanguzi, of the High court’s International Criminal division, adjourned the trial to November 21, citing lack of money for court operations. But yesterday, judiciary publicist Solomon Muyita told The Observer that the finance ministry had rescued the trial.

“The Shs 60m initially allocated to the trial has already been spent,” he said.  “But the Shs 250m addition will be enough to sustain the trial to the very end.”

DRAMA IN COURT

The dramatic Tuesday events were sparked off by Lino Anguzu, the principal state attorney, who told court that although he had several witnesses to present for cross-examination, he needed the court’s guidance on how to pay for their allowances in form of transport, accommodation and meals.

This prompted Justice Muhanguzi to rule that the hearing should be stopped until the government releases money to court to facilitate proceedings.

“Let’s be practical. We have difficulties in continuing to facilitate this case. Since the registrar promises to process operational money, we are adjourning this case to November 21. The accused persons are further remanded till then,” he said.

However, some of the suspects took the judges and the entire court by surprise when they offered, through their lawyers, to finance the rest of the trial in a bid to avoid further delays.

The suspects in court

Fred Muwema, the lead defence counsel, proposed that since the accused have spent a long time on remand, they should either be given bail or allowed to sell their properties such as land and cows to fund the case for the remaining period.

However, Muhanguzi, who is supported by judges Percy Tuhaise and Jane Kiggundu, rejected the proposal. Muyita, explained to The Observer that allowing the accused persons to provide funding for the trial would not only be irregular, but would also tantamount to corruption.

“If the court which tries these accused persons is facilitated by them, what kind of decisions will be arrived atduring judgment?” Muyita asked.

CASH SQUEEZE

The events at ICD have opened a lid to the serious cash problems in the judiciary. For instance, the hearing of the case against former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Col Thomas Kwoyelo has been delayed due to lack of funds. Kwoyelo is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity before the Gulu-based International Criminal Division (ICD) court.

Muyita confirmed the development, saying that the Kwoyelo case, whose hearing was supposed to start in August 2016, had been postponed indefinitely.

“Judges have to move with their entourages to Gulu, and all of them have to be facilitated with, among other things, accommodation,” he said.

Kwoyelo was arrested in 2008, but his trial has been postponed numerous times. In April 2016, a pre-trial hearing of his controversial case was held in Kampala, but the main trial that was scheduled to begin on May 2 was postponed to July 18 and, later, to August. It is now unclear when that trial will eventually start.

Similarly, election appeals before the court of Appeal delayed to start on scheduled dates in August because operational funds for the first quarter of the 2016-17 financial yearwere not availed until recently.

Muyita, however, revealed that the treasury has released at least Shs 170 million to facilitate this court to hear nearly 100 appeals. The hearings are scheduled to begin next week, starting with the 35 appeals whose scheduling conferences have been completed.

JUDICIARY EXPLAINS

Explaining the cash flow problems, Muyita told The Observer that the ordinary cases are catered for under the judiciary’s annual budgets; but capital cases and high-profile civil cases have different budgets which – on approval – are paid quarterly by the treasury in respective secessions.

A case like the one against the Muslim clerics is categorized as a special project whose expenses include purchasing stationery, paying state-given defence lawyers, as well as facilitating state witnesses, assessors, clerks, a secretary and police officers (allowances) who guard the court premises till the cases is disposed of.

Ordinarily, such ‘special’ cases cost a minimum of Shs 40m, but Muyita says the Muslim clerics’ trial needed more because it has a bigger following, which necessitated the judiciary to provide extra-security, a second courtroom with screens and hired loudspeakers.

“This operational money in criminal cases can be reduced to about 30 percent if a certain suspect, through the officer-in-charge(OC) Prisons, applies for plea bargaining, where lawyers don’t need to go for extensive arguments and [to use] a lot of transport [moving suspects back and forth],” he said.

slubwama@observer.ug

Tourism board on the spot over missing prizes

Fri, 11/04/2016 - 12:09
Steven Asiimwe, UTB CEO

The Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) has been accused of failing to give prizes to students who won its national cultural quiz.

But UTB officials this week disowned the competition, which was part of a three-day cultural fair held at the Uganda museum up to July 31, 2016. The national competition was won by Jinja Secondary School students Joel Mugulusi and Samuel Kakaire. 

At an earlier press conference, UTB deputy chief executive officer John Ssempebwa had said that each of the winning students would be given Shs 1 million for third term school fees, besides a trophy and weeklong tour to any chosen part of Uganda.

At the close of the function, officiated by parliament speaker Rebecca Kadaga on behalf of President Museveni, UTB promised to deliver the prizes in September. However, two months down the road nothing is forthcoming yet the winning students are about to write their final UACE exams.

“We have tried to contact them to remind them of their commitments; at first they would pick our calls and promise that they were going to give us our money and take us for the trip but now they no longer pick our phone calls,” said Mugulusi, one of the winners.

He added that during the three-day event, he used to commute to and from Jinja, incurring transport costs. Asked about the prize money, Perfect Events, a company that co-hosted the event, said they only helped with organisation.

“UTB was in charge of giving awards to winning students and I think they are working on it,” a Prefect Events official who hung up before he could identify himself said.

For his part, John Ssempebwa said he was now on leave and couldn’t comment about the matter. However, he referred this writer to a one Patrick who he said was the officer in charge of the quiz. When contacted, Patrick denied being the contact person, saying he only helped take photos for the agency’s social media platforms.

Albert Kasolo, another UTB staffer involved in the quiz organisation, also said he knew nothing about the money, suggesting that Ssempebwa might know.

Neither did UTB CEO Stephen Asiimwe know anything about the quiz and the money. He told us: “Who gave that offer and when was that quiz held? I’m not aware of that.”

bakerbatte@gmail.com

Govt asked to adopt less harmful approach in drugs fight

Fri, 11/04/2016 - 11:55
Dr Busingye Kabumba

Civil society bodies have advised government to swap punitive measures in the fight against drug abuse with less harsh actions that aim at rehabilitation.

In a report analysing the tension between criminal law, public health and human rights, the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), a non-government organisation,  said the current legal environment on drugs contributes to the stigma faced by drug users.

Speaking at the launch of the report last Wednesday, the lead researcher of the report, Dr Busingye Kabumba, said despite the challenges that people who use drugs face, there is no detailed policy relating to their protection.

Busingye, a Makerere University law lecturer, urged the government to drop the punitive methods and approach the drug issue through public health because most drug users are sick people who need medical attention.

“The emphasis on criminal approaches to drug abuse has discouraged many drug users from seeking even those medical services which might be available in the public and private health systems. This is because of the threat of being taken to court to answer charges related to their drug use upon recovery,” he explained.

HRAPF estimates that every day, a drug user spends about Shs 100,000 on rehabilitation in a private clinic. According to Busingye, the criminalisation and incarceration of drug users has been found to force them to transform into actual criminals, such as elite drug trafficking, due to the denial of opportunities for gainful employment opportunities which they face following incarceration.

The government is soon adopting the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act, 2015, (NDPSA) to replace the weaker National Drug Policy and Authority Act (NDPA). Section four of the NDPSA makes it an offence to traffic drugs and anyone found in possession faces a fine of Shs10 million or 10 years in prison.

Kabumba noted that even the new law, NDPSA, focuses more on criminalisation than rehabilitation. Noting that that rehabilitation is only considered by a judge or magistrate after the drug user has been convicted, Kabumba advised the ministry of health to consider helping drug users before they are convicted.

abumay1988@gmail.com

Japan pumps Shs 10bn into Northern Uganda projects

Fri, 11/04/2016 - 11:29

Kazuaki Kameda, Japanese ambassador to Uganda

The government of Japan, through its Japan Social Development Fund, has issued a Shs 10 billion grant to Uganda in a bid to improve access to income-earning opportunities for poor and vulnerable households in northern Uganda.

The grant will be managed by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) under the new Northern Uganda Business Advisory Support Project (NUBSP).

The three-year pilot project is designed to complement the ongoing third phase of the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF 3) and will take place in the districts of Gulu, Nebbi and Soroti.

In a joint statement by the government of Uganda, Japan and the World Bank, the objective of NUBSP is to enable government improve and sustain people’s incomes by providing business training, small start-up grants, and follow-up business advisory services to existing and new community interest groups (CIGs).

“Japan is committed to supporting efforts by the government of Uganda to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are felt by all citizens in a direct and tangible way,” Kazuaki Kameda, the ambassador of Japan to Uganda, said.

Other targeted beneficiaries include female-headed households, people with disabilities, and vulnerable youths. In all, 4,680 people are expected to benefit directly from the project.

“The grant will benefit 120 existing community groups that were established under the NUSAF 2 project, and support 240 new ones. Groups are to have 10 to 15 members and receive training in business management and technical skills development to prepare business plans, among others,” the statement reads in part.

The new groups will receive grants of up to Shs 7 million to start income-generating activities, while the 120 existing groups will be provided with training and business follow-up services.

Police hunts drunken cop

Fri, 11/04/2016 - 11:00

A police officer attached to the logistics department at Namanve police post is on the run after escaping from custody.

Leonard Allan Dakofe ran away from the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) in Bukoto, where he had been taken to record a statement after being found drunk while on duty.

According to police sources, Dakofe’s drunken state was detected by his boss Godfrey Bangirana, the director of logistics and engineering at Jinja Road police station, when the former delivered some documents.

“Bangirana ordered PSU officers to arrest Dakofe for reporting on duty while drunk,” the source said.

“However, as he was recording a statement at PSU with an investigative officer, he asked to first go for lunch as he was feeling hungry and couldn’t talk properly.”

Dakofe seized the opportunity to disappear. Emilian Kayima, the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, confirmed Dakofe’s disappearance but said he will be rearrested any time.

PSU handles complaints from the public and any other misconduct by the police officers.

zurah@observer.ug

'Mass resignations' at Sudhir’s Victoria University

Thu, 11/03/2016 - 23:40

While tempers are still flaring among the academic staff at Makerere University over unpaid incentives, top managers at Victoria University have relinquished their positions.

Some of those who have vacated their positions are Dr Patience Muwanguzi, the dean school of Public Health, Maximus Byamukama, dean of faculty of Science & Technology, Dr Francis Waiswa, the acting vice chancellor & dean faculty of Business & Management, Dr Gloria, faculty of Health Sciences and Dr Martha Kibuka-Musoke, dean, Humanities & Social Sciences.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that the lecturers resigned their positions because of the unprofessional conduct of the owners of the university. Victoria University is owned by city businessman, Sudhir Ruparelia.

This morning, David B. Matovu, the chairperson of Victoria University Council issued a notice to students explaining the status of the vice chancellor, deans and heads of department, saying they resolved not to report to work effective November 1.
 
"Consequently, they have breached their contract of employment and constructively dismissed themselves from the University Services," reads the notice.

Adding that, "The University Council therefore, appoints Mr Nyakana Joseph who is the University Registrar to serve as the Acting Vice Chancellor until further notice."

In the notice, Matovu assures the students that the changes will not disrupt services at the university. The affected lecturers couldn't be reached for a comment. Victoria University Kampala sits on Victoria Towers on Plot 1-13 Jinja road. 
 
Founded in 1985, Victoria University is accredited by the Uganda National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) to offer diploma and degree courses.

It is not yet clear whether the problems at Victoria University are in anyway related to the troubles at Crane bank limited, which is also owned by Sudhir.  Bank of Uganda took over the bank citing under-capitalization.

Nyombi pinned over Shs 6.6bn loss in undefended case

Thu, 11/03/2016 - 16:48
Peter Nyombi

Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and the attorney general's office have come under spotlight over failure to release Shs 160,000 filing fees to defend  Uganda National roads Authority (Unra) hence making the country lose Shs 6.6bn.

Yesterday, the MPs on the parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory and State Enterprises (Cosase) learnt that the unexplained failure by the then attorney general to represent Unra made taxpayers lose billions.

Ministry of Works and Dott Services Construction Company signed a contract in June 2008 to construct roads under backlog road maintenance programmes in Kampala at a cost of Shs 14.2bn.

On August 9, 2012, Dott Services filed a suit before the Centre of Arbitration and Dispute Resolution tribunal, claiming that while the company executed the contract maintenance works, it had not been paid in spite of repeated reminders to Unra.

As a result, the tribunal awarded Dott Services Shs 6.6bn, an act that Unra partly blamed on the AGs office, headed by Peter Nyombi then for failure to turn up for the hearings.
 
However, Nyombi while appearing before the committee, explained that he protested the proceedings over the presence of Justice Alfred Kakorora, whom he claimed was involved in a constitutional petition with one of the parties in the petition.
 
However, state attorney Kosia Kasibayo shocked the committee when he revealed that Unra consequently lost the case because the ministry failed to release the money (Shs 160,000) to file their defence. The money was released five days after the ruling was made.
 
Committee vice chairperson, Anita Among says officials from the AG's office will be summoned to explain this matter, as well as cases of government losing money due to negligence. Some of the officials to be summoned include Phillip Mwaka, Erisa Bafirawala and Justice Kyebolo.
 
“It must be on record that attorney general’s office caused financial loss because of their laxity to represent the government in most of these cases. And we are going to have the officers who handled this case responsible for it….Hon Nyombi thank you for coming and thank you for sparing your time but even as you go you know very well that you made us lose that money”, she said. 

UBC pleads with staff over looming strike

Thu, 11/03/2016 - 14:47

The management of Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) has pleaded with staff for patience, saying their two-month salary arrears will soon be paid.

It comes a day after some staff of the national broadcaster met and resolved to lay down their tools tomorrow, Friday, November 4 unless they receive their October and September salary arrears by today.

A notice published on social media believed to be from UBC staff, warned that "No one will carry on with any work of UBC until they we are paid our salaries." Adding that, "For those who think UBC is their home just dare do anything and we shall act on you."

Now, in an internal memo addressed to staff, Wilson Agaba the managing director of UBC, notes that management is cognisant of the fact that they have delayed with the remittance of salaries for October and partially that of September - emphasising that they are looking at various avenues of raising finances to make good on all outstanding balances.

"The maturity exhibited by all staff during this financial squeeze is commended and I do call upon you to be more patient and prudent as we wait for what we await for what is due to us. This will happen in due course," reads the memo.

He also notes in the memo that it is unfortunate that social media is awash wish misguided, misleading and malicious information about UBC.

Agaba also dismisses rumours that he has resigned as false. According to Agaba, the impending strike cannot be motivated by a well-wisher who knows where UBC has come from and the positive strides being made to improve revenue generation and the lobbying already done to increase government support to meet all expenses. He calls upon all staff to remain calm and execute their work diligently.

UBC has close to 500 employees deployed at the various stations across the country. Some of the staff didn't turn up for work on Wednesday.

Uganda Broadcasting Corporation is the public broadcaster of Uganda. It was formed as a result of the "Uganda Broadcasting Corporation Act, 2004", which merged the operations of Uganda Television and Radio Uganda. Currently, UBC operates several radio and television channels spread across Uganda.

No money to pay Makerere lecturers - Museveni

Thu, 11/03/2016 - 12:46
Museveni addressing the media in Luweero

President Museveni has sternly warned any civil servants intending to lay down tools in industrial action, saying his government will not tolerate this anymore.

Addressing the media from Kawumu state lodge in Makulubita sub-county in Luweero yesterday evening where he has been camped since last Saturday, Museveni says the striking lecturers of Makerere University cannot hold his government at ransom and should instead be patient as government finds money to pay them.

The strong warning comes a day after President Museveni ordered the indefinite closure of Makerere after failed negotiations between the university council, management and the striking lecturers. The lecturers laid down their tools in late October to protest non-payment of their salary incentives for the last 8 months amounting to Shs 28bn.

“We are not refusing to pay the arrears of those lecturers but they should wait, because we are doing other things also. Now when you have got people who’ve got an attitude of ‘if you don’t do this today, I am going to okwediima (strike)’. That is not a good way, that is not a good way. Nanyini kintu tasanyalaza (the owner of something is its biggest protector). If I do farming, I cannot say that; because rain has delayed, I have abandoned everything. Rain has delayed here, but we are patient, we continue, now it has come”, he said.

“That attitude [of strikes] is not a good attitude. I want to tell you that we are not going to tolerate this type of indiscipline anymore. Finished! This is Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo (term of no games), remember. You cannot have somebody okutuga (hold hostage) government; ‘if you don’t give me money now, am going to paralyse the country. No, no.”

Museveni said that government is determined to even increase salaries of university professors to Shs 15m from Shs 8m, but asked them to wait a little longer since there is no money at the moment to do so.

Museveni also disclosed that the university will be reopened soon to enable students to continue with their studies.  It is not clear whether the lecturers will return to class without receiving their salary incentives. The lecturers are expected to meet later today to deliberate on the council resolutions, and decide their next course of action.

“We want to open the university as soon as possible such that the children don’t miss their studies”, said Museveni.

Yesterday the university and its services were closed from the students and the public with students ordered out of halls of residence by 9.00am. They were also not allowed near hostels around the university with fears that they could mobilise further to strike again after their strike on Monday that paralysed operations at the university and surrounding areas.
 
Recently, the university council promised to pay the lecturers their salary incentive for one month as they look for additional resources to clear the remaining balance. Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) blames the persistent strikes at the university on the failures by the administration and council.

The MUASA leadership accuses the university management and council of ineptness in managing internally generated funds and failure of the council to act.

The vice chancellor Prof Ddumba Ssentamu yesterday said the closure was “long overdue” and that it will give everybody a chance to reflect on how under-funded the university is.

He said Makerere’s current problems are because of the current leadership as they have been there before his reign and shall still be there after if no lasting solutions are found.

"People say money is being stolen at the university, but when you ask them who's stealing the money, everybody keeps quiet", he said.

Students, parents condemn Makerere University closure

Thu, 11/03/2016 - 02:33

The leader of opposition in parliament (LOP) Winnie Kiiza has criticised President Yoweri Museveni for rushing to order for the closure of Makerere University following lecturers and students’ strikes.

Museveni ordered for the indefinite closure of Makerere on Tuesday evening following failed negotiations between the University Council, administration and striking lecturers.

"I, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, has this 1st day of November 2016, pursuant to the powers vested in me by the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and Section 20(2) of the Universities and other Tertiary Institutions Act 2001 as amended, decided to close Makerere University with immediate effect, until further notice, in order to guarantee safety of persons and property," reads Museveni's letter.

The lecturers laid down their tools on October 26 to protest the failure by the university to pay their salary incentives for the last 8 months. The university council convened several meetings with the leadership of Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA), the umbrella body of the academic staff to plead with them to return to class in vain.

Kiiza criticises the president's decision, because according to her, the closure didn't take into consideration the plight of students. Today, police ordered the students out of the university halls of residence within 30 minutes. Police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi advised international students to contact their embassies and consulates to facilitate their accommodation and travels, saying nobody was sure when the university would be reopened.

Kaweesi also said no students or their leaders would be allowed to stay even in nearby hostels. For stranded students, Kaweesi said they should report to the nearest police station for accommodation until when their families can facilitate their travels back home.

Makerere University students after they were ordered to vacate halls of residence by 9.00am 

Kiiza said that instead of closing the university, Museveni should have used his powers to end the stalemate at Uganda's oldest university by prevailing over the striking academic staffs.

"It is unfortunate the president had to usurp the roles of the minister of education. We wish he had used his powers to re-allocate parts of the billions of shillings government used to bail collapsing businesses to clear the incentives of the lecturers", Kiiza said.

She said it was useless to use Shs 200bn to bail out Crane bank as reported in the media and yet fail to raise Shs 6bn to clear salary incentives for Makerere University lecturers.

"We therefore demand that the university be opened as soon as possible. And we also demand that arrears of the lecturers be cleared for them to return to class" Kiiza said.

She contends that the closure of the university sends a bad signal to the young generation and foreign students who admire joining it. Julius Peter Ochen, the Kapelebyong county member of parliament says the closure of the country's oldest learning institutions is a "question of failure of governance that must be addressed by the citizenry".  

Joseph Sewungu, Kalungu West MP says it is unfortunate that Museveni usurped the powers of the minister of education, also First Lady Janet Museveni to close the university.

Both parents and the students have called for a total overhaul of the institution's administration following its closure on Tuesday. Derrick Ssenyonga, a former student of the university who is awaiting graduation, saying the closure will affect his graduation, which was scheduled for January.

"Now that Makerere is closed, can we find a permanent solution to its woes? Is it administration, government or students? If it is students and tuition increment is the solution, implement it now. It's time to revive our old glory," said Ssenyonga.

Adding that, "I hope the old man with a hat [Museveni] will be done with watering his garden by January...because I don't want to study Journalism for 5 years!".

Agnes Tumushabe, another student and resident of Mary Stuart hall expressed her frustration by the closure of the university.

"My aunt is in Nairobi my brother is in Mbarara, I have been calling my relatives but no phone is going through. Even the maid is not picking my calls. I don't know who really bewitched Makerere?" she said.

Aloysius Kwitonda, a lecturer at Makerere who was seen helping her daughter to carry luggage from Mary Stuart hall said; "You see they are chasing us like chicken thieves. Here's my daughter."

Phiona Atwebembere, another student, said they understand the concerns of the lecturers since some of their parents teach in Makerere University.

"The problem is that the university is closed and I think our lecturers suffer a lot. Some of our parents are lecturers. My mother for example is a lecturer she has to pay for me here [so] I understand her problem. The university should pay the university and government should work with university to find a lasting solution to the university," she said.

Adding that, "We have been disorganized some of us had programs we thought we would be done by Christmas. This means we are going to be away and our programs are going to be interfered with."

Owen Natukunda, the guild clerk and resident of Lumumba called for an overhaul of the university management. 

"The management of this university should change and we have thorough audits. There are many financial problems, even some of the workers, work because they know they are permanent and pensionable. Government should work on either contract for staff," he said.

He said there is need for government to be involved in the affairs of the university instead of rushing in whenever there is a problem. Addressing journalists at Makerere University this morning, Kale Kayihura, the inspector general of police, said the closure of the university was unfortunate.

"It's unfortunate that government had to take this extreme measure because there was no option since the lecturers had refused to teach," Kayihura said.

Kayihura acknowledged that there are pending issues that government hopes to handle during the period under which the university will be closed. "This time will give government and administration chance to find solutions to the problems of Makerere so that these strikes and riots do not continue in future," he said.

Besigye vows to fight off police to liberate his home

Wed, 11/02/2016 - 13:09
Defiant Kizza Besigye

Dr Kizza Besigye has vowed to use all necessary means to make sure police leave his premises.

Addressing journalists outside his Kasangati home yesterday, the former FDC president said that on top of his longtime struggle to liberate the country, he now has to liberate his home too and that he will do whatever it takes to see that this is achieved.

“I am now dealing with having to liberate my home because I have no home but a prison. I am either imprisoned here or imprisoned in the police, whichever prison they feel like. Our entire country is held hostage by a few gangsters,” Besigye said shortly before he left to report to High court as a requirement for his bail.

“We have a government that takes the law in its own hands, they don’t care to know what it says, they don’t care about human rights and they don’t care to know that this is somebody’s house and that the individual has authority over it,” he added.

On Monday, Besigye was violently arrested when he removed the barricades from the road leading to his home in Kasangati. After a scuffle, he was bundled into a police pickup and driven to Naggalama police station in Mukono. Late in the night, he was driven back home.

“I had visitors outside and the police had blocked them from entering; so, I sloped down to go and let my visitors in. They dragged me, tore my shirt, threw me into a van and took me to Naggalama as you saw,” Besigye said.

“At around midnight, they came for me and asked to take me home but I refused, I told them they should not disturb me at this time and that the two places are all prisons after all. If they wanted to take me to the other prison, they would have to wait until morning.”

At this point, according to Besigye, all lights at the station were switched off and using the cover of darkness, policemen entered his cell, grabbed him and threw him into a waiting van which drove him back to Kasangati.

“As peace-loving Ugandans, we all have to come together to liberate our country from people like this. It is us who are supposed to liberate it even though foreigners may help, and personally I am going to start with liberating my home first,” he said.

Since February 17, police has camped outside Besigye’s home, subjecting his visitors to thorough checks while blocking others. Last month, we reported that such operation cost the force at least Shs 2 million per day to gather intelligence and Shs 87 million per month on fuel (See, Cost of containing Besigye escalates, October 19, 2016).

The police have always claimed that the reason for their siege at Besigye’s home is to prevent him from moving to the city to cause chaos. Over the past couple of months, Besigye has travelled twice to Europe.

However upon his return, police deployment at his home has been heavy. When he returned on October 3, he was arrested as he disembarked from the airplane.

Commenting about the Monday incident, police spokesperson Felix Kaweesi said Besigye was arrested because he and other opposition leaders in Kampala were planning to demonstrate with street vendors that were evicted from Kampala streets.

However, FDC refuted these claims. Harold Kaija, the FDC deputy secretary general, said this was a move by police to justify why they need to be given more resources.

kamogajonathan50@gmail.com

Political drama as Kato Lubwama case begins

Wed, 11/02/2016 - 12:41
Kato Lubwama (R) arrives at the High court

The differences between Forum for Democratic Change and Democratic Party bubbled to the surface on Monday during the preliminary hearing of the case in which the academic qualifications of Kato Lubwama, the Lubaga South MP, are being questioned.

As Derrick Kiyonga and Siraje Lubwama write, it was more of political than legal drama at the court premises when the case kicked off. Ordinarily, you would have thought that the battle is between Habib Buwembo, the political activist who filed the case, and Lubwama, but to the supporters of the MP who swarmed the court, FDC is to blame for their man’s woes.

In particular, Lubwama‘s supporters singled out Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, the Kira municipality MP, as the invisible hand behind the court case. And the placards they waved at court, which had tribal undertones,were rather instructive.

“Ssemujju Nganda, fitina yaki ku Baganda banno,” said one. “Ssemujju, why are you conspiring against your fellow Baganda?”

The legislator’s supporters believe that FDC is trying to punish Lubwama for fervently defending parliament’s decision to give each MP Shs 200million to purchase vehicles.

“I did not come to parliament to suffer,” Lubwama famously said.

One of the MP’s supporters at the court who was clad in DP colours accused the complainant, Buwembo, of working with FDC to fail Lubwama. Lubwama, who cruised to parliament as an independent candidate allied to Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago’s Truth and Justice (TJ) pressure group, has since become a protégé of Muhammad Nsereko, the Kampala Central MP. Nsereko, an NRM-leaning independent, was at the court on Monday to express solidarity with Lubwama.

Nsereko’s sister, Saudah Nsereko, was part of Lubwama’s legal team. While Lukwago was not present, Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West) and Paulson Luttamaguzi Ssemakula (Nakaseke South) were in court to show support for their colleague. At court, charged Lubwama supporters tried to attack Buwembo. A punch thrown his way missed him by a whisker.

“I am assuring you we are going to fight over this,” a middle-aged man threatened Buwembo, who merely looked on.

“Besigye taught us to be defiant and we are going to show you because we love Kato Lubwama.”

As the court session started, Justice Margret Oumo Oguli was rattled by the noise emanating from Lubwama’s supporters outside the courtroom.

“We cannot proceed with this kind of noise,” she said before ordering Lubwama to tell his supporters to keep quiet.

Lubwama, accompanied by Nsereko, hurriedly went out and urged his supporters to stay calm, assuring them that victory was within their grasp.

HEARING

Before hearing Lubwama’s preliminary objection to the petition, Buwembo’s lawyer Isaac Kimaze Ssemakadde sought to add Makerere University to the petition as a respondent.

“My Lady, we need to have Makerere University as another respondent to be served by this court to present to us additional documents, which will help us prove that Lubwama’s admission was illegal for he was not qualified for the special entry [examinations] at Makerere University,” submitted Ssemakadde.

The lawyer added that Makerere needs to validate the rules that govern mature entry exams, the basis on which Lubwama says he was admitted for the diploma programme in Music, Dance and Drama.

Kato Lubwama supporters at the High court

Buwembo will argue that the grades that Lubwama obtained at O-level were not sufficient for him to be awarded a certificate and thus be admitted to the diploma programme. However, Lubwama maintains that his qualifications are legitimate.

“That on the basis of my O-level results and mature entry examinations administered by Makerere University…I applied and was admitted to undertake a diploma in Music, Dance and Drama, which award I possess and which Makerere recognizes without any question or suspicion, the same has never been cancelled or been a subject of any investigation or query,” Lubwama said in his written defence.

When Ssemakadde asked for permission to add Makerere University to the petition as the third respondent, the judge retorted that it is as if the lawyer was on a fishing expedition since he has no evidence to prove his case.

This statement appears to have boosted the morale of Lubwama’s legal team led by Asuman Basalirwa who, alongside the Electoral Commission lawyer, vehemently opposed the application. The EC is the second respondent in the petition.

“We oppose the application and we contend that it is premature and the same should be dismissed with costs. Our learned friend [Ssemakadde] asked Makerere University for those documents and they were given to him. The reality is that they may not be sufficient according to his wish which means he failed to complete the process which required him to lodge a complaint to a magistrate’s court and an appeal if he was not satisfied, but here he is wasting court’s precious time,” Basalirwa submitted.

Samuel Muyizzi, DP’s legal advisor, concurred with Basalirwa, saying the application was brought in bad faith because Ssemakadde had the time to sue Makerere University as a third respondent before filing the petition.

“What counsel Ssemakadde is doing is trying to look for evidence after filing the petition instead of doing the reverse to enlarge the time. I pray that he should not be allowed to waste court’s time,” Muyizzi said.

Another of Lubwama’s lawyers, Nalukoola Luyimbazi, submitted that the search Ssemakadde conducted from Makerere University is sufficient enough, adding that even if the university registrar is summoned to court, he will not get extra information.

Denying that he had brought the application in bad faith to delay the petition, Ssemakadde told court that the five days given by the EC to carry out all the necessary investigations before a petition is filed are not enough.

He said conducting the search in such a short time was harder than making a pilgrimage to Mecca. Justice Oguli adjourned the case to October 4 when she will deliver a ruling on whether to add Makerere University as the third respondent.

Museveni anti-poverty tour draws criticism

Wed, 11/02/2016 - 12:33

Over the last five days, President Museveni has been traversing Luweero district ostensibly to supervise the progress of the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) programme.

One of the most memorable moments of the president on the tour includes a series of photographs where he is captured fetching water in a jerrycan using a bicycle. Thereafter he is seen pouring it in mineral water bottles to water his garden at Kawumu.

Critics on social media and elsewhere have already made fun of these pictures, wondering how this will further the country’s plan of modernizing its agriculture and our aspiration of attaining middle-income status. But the president’s handlers say he was trying to illustrate how people can use drip irrigation, during a dry spell, to water their gardens.

For the time being, Museveni seems unbothered. During the tour, he inspected people’s gardens, addressed public rallies and engaged in some practical agriculture at his farm in Kawumu.

“It was also a nostalgic exercise as I met families that supported our bush struggle. For example I met the family of late Lule, whose house we used to store drugs and visited the home of late Zakayo Kalibbala, another veteran. His son Esau Wasswa is running a big coffee plantation. Generally, there have been reports of seedlings distributed under OWC drying up but I am happy the Luweero ones are doing well,” he said on Monday.

Museveni fetching water at Kawumu in Luweero

The president said his main emphasis this time is to show the rural folks that with four acres of land, one can jump out of biting poverty.

“For Luweero, the key, in my view, is the four-acre model. I will personally inspect farms on foot to ensure that I demonstrate how this model of one acre of coffee or tea, one acre of fruits, one acre of food and one acre of pigs/animals, works,” he told a rally at Kawumu, where he has established a demonstration farm.

Museveni told local leaders not to just stop at distributing seeds but to follow up with supervision. He said agriculture officials should offer technical assistance to the farmers.

The president warned people against land fragmentation, saying no meaningful commercial agriculture can be carried out on small pieces of land. From Luweero, Museveni is expected to move to other parts of the country assessing the implementation of the OWC programme.

Don Wanyama, the senior presidential press secretary, told The Observer yesterday that largely Museveni’s tour of Luweero had been a success.

“The president has been candid enough and admitted where there are failures like when he talked about poor seedlings in some areas. So, he knows the problems but in Luweero, you could see some progress,” Wanyama said.

Wanyama said the soldiers are working with technical people from Naads to minimize some of the hitches. Sources said the president decided to conduct the countrywide tour after reports of poor seedlings and the fear that the programme had been mismanaged in some parts of the country.

Other critics have said the president is using the tour as a pretext for early political campaigns even though he will not be eligible to stand in 2021 unless the constitutional age-limit is lifted.

CRITICISM

However, some local leaders in Luweero district, including NRM supporters told The Observer that while Museveni’s visit is timely, the OWC programme is yet to yield any tangible results. Rogers Mulindwa, the spokesperson at the NRM secretariat and a resident of the district, said OWC had been poorly implemented.

“Government must go back to the early plan of zoning areas such that each region is given crops that suit the conditions. They are giving people mango trees that need spacing of 30 feet by 30. People here [Luweero] do not have that kind of land,” Mulindwa said.

Mulindwa said Museveni’s tour is good because it is going to awaken the local leaders there to put more effort in the programme. Like Mulindwa, Bwanika Bbale, the FDC chairman of Luweero and a respected leader there, said the OWC in the district lacked focus.

“They give anybody seedlings without finding out whether they have land or not,” he said.

Bbale said some people had resorted to selling coffee seedling to others. He also expressed skepticism about whether the four-acre model can be applied successfully in the district, saying an averagely ‘big’ farmer in the district owns no more than two acres.

But Haruna Kasirye, the agricultural officer of Luweero, told The Observer yesterday that OWC is progressing well, denying that people had been given seedlings which they don’t need.

“We first study the situation before we distribute seedlings. The only problem we have faced is the long dry spell which has interrupted the programme,” Kasirye said.

He said while it is true that most people own less than four acres, they can still try to replicate Museveni’s model by subdividing their land for different uses.

ekiggundu@observer.ug

Museveni warns MPs: leave Chinese alone

Wed, 11/02/2016 - 12:24
President Museveni 

When President Museveni met a select group of MPs and other officials at State House Entebbe on October 21, he delivered one terse message: Please handle Chinese contractors with care.

Museveni’s visitors included MPs on the Natural Resources committee, which is probing sand mining around Lake Victoria, in which some Chinese firms are involved. But Museveni’s bigger concern appears to have been the Karuma and Isimba hydropower projects, which have been dogged by concerns about poor workmanship.

According to sources who attended the State House meeting, Museveni is worried that if Chinese firms are ‘harassed’, they could lose the funding that they bring to Uganda. Yet, the president said, the country badly needs that money to develop its infrastructure. Museveni complained that MPs and other institutions were particularly rough in handling the Chinese.

“We need a coordinated approach to avoid negative reports about [the Chinese contractors],” the president reportedly said.

We need to speak the same language when dealing with them. But if one group says this today and another group says something else tomorrow, we confuse them.”

According to another source, Museveni added: “When you scare any investor, definitely the funder of that investor will get scared. Now, what image and impression is being created out there?” the president said, according to a source.

Museveni’s meeting with MPs came on the coattails of two parliamentary investigations: one by the committee on Natural Resources and the other by the committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase).

MPs on Cosase recently pushed Chinese contractors to refund Shs 26.3bn meant for compensation of people affected by road projects. MPs on the Natural Resources committee, meanwhile, directed Uganda Investment Authority to stop Chinese companies from mining sand in Lwera plains off the Kampala-Masaka highway.

The MPs argued that sand is not an exportable mineral which can be extracted by foreigners, but a locally-used natural resource which should be left to locals.

The president fears that if funders see any negative news about any investor, they are likely to withhold their money. So, he counseled, we “really need to treat our investors with care”. 

But his directive could be seen to compromise the principle of separation of powers, under which parliament provides oversight into the work of the executive.

Among other officials, the Entebbe meeting was attended by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, Attorney General William Byaruhanga, Energy Minister Irene Muloni, and Dr Badru Kiggundu, who heads a steering committee overseeing the construction of Karuma and Isimba dams.

Engineer Kiggundu’s committee and another comprising of young engineers presented their reports on the problems at the 183MW Isimba and the 600MW Karuma dam construction sites. They confirmed the presence of cracks; but it was not clear from our source what the cost of fixing the problem would be in terms of money and project time.

Karuma dam is being built by the Chinese firm Sinohydro, and Isimba by China International Water & Electric Corporation. But reports of shoddy work have forced MPs to push for a thorough inquiry, with parliament recently setting up a nine-man select probe committee

This appears to have alarmed the president. Attorney General William Byaruhanga recently wrote to the ministry of energy warning against any investigations into the two projects. But in Entebbe, Kadaga clarified that committees of parliament had oversight responsibility and were within their right to carry out investigations.

“On that basis, the attorney general withdrew verbally his opinion. He said in the interest of moving the country forward and saving money, he withdrew. So, he literally withdrew his opinion,” a source told us.

Asked about the meeting, Nwoya MP Simon Oyet said: “Everybody was able to express their views and I was happy for the first time to see the president talking tough about accounting officers who are not really performing their duties for reasons unknown.”

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