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Torture cases against police down - EU envoy

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 11:56

Human rights violations tagged to police have reduced this year, Kristian Schmidt, the head of the European Union delegation, has said.

Schmidt made the remarks yesterday at Speke Resort Munyonyo during the launch of the 21st annual Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) report themed; “A pro-people justice system: Building public trust.”

Speaking on behalf of the JLOS development partners, Schmidt said that unlike last year, this year has seen fewer cases of human rights violations blamed on the police.

“I think this is an achievement because even in the Uganda Human Rights Commission report,” Schmidt said, as the audience laughed, “human rights cases lodged against police have decreased.”

However, during the same year, in August 2016, police chief Kale Kayihura and seven other senior police officers were sued in Makindye magistrate’s court over the beating up of civilians which was captured on camera. The officers were accused of torturing supporters of opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye between July 13 and July 14.

But the trial never took off after Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma allowed an injunction stopping it. In his speech, Schmidt was critical of Kayihura’s supporters who stormed Makindye magistrate’s court on August 10, 2016 and disrupted proceedings in a protest against the police chief’s impending prosecution. 

The rowdy mob attacked lawyers behind the private prosecution effort and vandalised a vehicle belonging to one of them, Abdallah Kiwanuka.

“We want to get assurances from the government that the sanctity of courts and judicial officers will be protected because it’s very important,” Schmidt said.

Chief Justice Bart Katureebe (R) hands over report to Kristian Schmidt, the head of the European Union delegation Photo: Nicholas Bamulanzeki

He also sought assurances from government that the constitutionally-stipulated period of 48 hours in which an accused must be produced in court will be maintained.

“It’s very important for security agencies to do investigations before arresting someone,” Schmidt said, “Because there are times when they first arrest before doing investigations.”

He also said that the lack of a proper legal aid policy and legal aid law is impeding access to justice by common citizens.

“Legal aid is the backbone of legal fairness,” Schmidt said.
“I have interacted with inmates in Luzira prison and they have told me that they don’t have lawyers so they cannot appeal or even apply for bail. These are things that we need to look at,” he said.

In response, Kahinda Otafiire, the minister for justice and constitutional affairs, assured Schmidt that court sieges will never happen again. 

GOVERNMENT

“We have on several occasions affirmed our commitment to ensure the sanctity of courts,” Otafiire said. “That notwithstanding, we want to assure you that we have put in place internal measures such that things like that don’t happen again.”

About the legal aid policy, Otafiire said that currently there is nothing much government can do, considering its meagre resources.

“How do you expect government to be rich yet its people are poor?” Otafiire said. “Government gets taxes from the people. So, if they are poor, it means the government will also be poor.”

Chief Justice Bart Katureebe said public confidence in JLOS institutions has increased from 26% in 2012 to 48% currently.

“Public knowledge of the JLOS institutions now stands at 90%,”  Katureebe said. Satisfaction levels with JLOS services, by those who have used the services, has also increased from 55% to 72% on average.”

In comparison to other jurisdictions, according to the Global competitiveness report, Katureebe said that Uganda has risen in the Index of Judicial Independence from 2.8 in 2014/15 to 3.41 in 2015/16.

“The country’s overall ranking has also improved from position 128 out of 144 countries in 2014/15 to position 91 in 2015/16,” Katureebe added.

The chief justice explained that the case clearance rate now stands at 125% and there has been a 20% reduction in pending cases.

dkiyonga@observer.ug

UPDF explains few women recruits

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 11:53

The army is not sidelining women in its latest recruitment drive, the deputy army spokesperson Major Henry Obbo has said.

The clarification follows public complaints from unsuccessful female applicants. The army targets to recruit 3,000 people into its specialized units. The public outcry followed reports from the countryside indicating that no female applicant had been recruited in several of the regions where the exercise is taking place.

Districts that recorded no female recruits include Nakaseke, Luweero, Nakasongola, Gulu, Amuru, Masaka, Bukomansimbi, Kalungu, Lwengo, Kalangala and Sembabule, among others.

There were also no female recruits, in Kabarole, Kyegegwa and Kyenjojo districts. Meanwhile in Bundibugyo, out of the 20 recruits only two were female. But Obbo said the recruitment targeted both male and female applicants with no specific slots reserved for either sex.

Some of the recent UPDF recruits training at Kololo 

However, he said most female applicants failed health and fitness tests, which are a prerequisite for joining the army. Others were above the required age bracket, did not have the required education requirements and had inconsistent records.

Applicants had to be between 18 and 25 years, single, with a national identity card. The army also targeted persons who completed O-level in 2014.

They were also required to present letters from the local councils. But Lt Col Bahoku Barigye, the acting UPDF political commissar, said that like all other sectors, women will at one point not be able to perform specific tasks.

Barigye said that the army has women, but they are cognizant of the fact that women have unique challenges. He said this is historic and documented that not so many females are members of the security forces, since they go through a special process in which they have to be absent from work.

Prophet Mbonye sets record straight to disapprove doubters

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 11:51
Prophet Elvis Mbonye

DVD Title: Do You Believe in Prophecy? Be the Judge
Author: Elvis Mbonye.
Running time: 1:23 minutes
Premiere: November 1

Prophet Elvis Mbonye has set out to debunk all stereotypes previously held of the typical Kampala man of God. From his smugness that borders on cockiness, the flamboyance, opulence, to the uncanny-ness and tales of the supernatural, he is a churchman unlike any other.

A few weeks ago, Mbonye caused a splash in the city when he revealed that his massive Tuesday tent meetings at the Kampala Hilton hotel, which gathers up to 5,000 people – mostly corporate elite – cost a staggering Shs 54m.

His latest release, a documentary, fits perfectly well into what we have come to expect from this peculiar man of God. It starts off with a casually-dressed Mbonye swaggering into his grey BMW X6, fastening his seat belt, then pressing the ‘start’ button, not just to rev ignite engine but to the set the documentary rolling.

When he drives off and the camera draws out ELVIS on the personalized plates, one could be excused for thinking they are about to watch a music video. Yet what follows is anything but entertainment.

It is Mbonye making a stellar case for faith in the prophetic and the supernatural, told against a beautiful backdrop of some of the most scenic shots you will see of Kampala city.

He details several prophecies he has given over the years – all of them delivered before an audience of hundreds of people – and then shows the fulfillment in a way that leaves little room for doubt.

With the air of a prosecution attorney giving his closing remarks, Mbonye ends his discourse telling viewers that, in the wake of such overwhelming evidence of the supernatural unfolding in our midst, those who dismiss it can no longer hide behind the curtain of lack of evidence.

They will simply be deliberate unbelievers. Prosecution rests. Do you believe in prophecy? Get your hands on the DVD and be the judge.

Book review: What it means to be a child soldier

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 11:43

Book: The Bonds of War, A Child Soldier’s Story
Author: Wambalye Weikama.
Pages: 262
Available: Aristoc Booklex 
Reviewed by: Jonathan Kamoga

In his non-fiction book, Weikama vividly captures the story of a child who uses turbulent childhood of experiencing war and violence as an emotive tool to advocate for justice.

Jean-Baptiste Rwasa is the child soldier on which Weikama’s book is based. His story, divided into 65 short chapters, is told in the first-person narrative that at times evokes tears.

Rwasa says his parents drowned in Lake Bulera, Rwanda when he was young and thus ended up being raised by an uncle, a reverend in the village. He speaks of moving to Uganda in 1993 to escape looming violence but even then life did not become necessarily better for him.

Later, he ventured into DR Congo as a child soldier were his group engaged with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and a period in which he witnessed so many horror things, some of which are still stored in his memory.

“There was an air of urgency and stillness as the truck coughed up smoke and started laboring over the uneven ground. The back of the truck was covered with tarp and all I could make out was the gunman’s cigarette and the sacks of maize flour on which we sat,” Rwasa narrated his journey to the recruitment camp.

When he was 14 years old and in the camp, he met children much younger than him. During the first days in the camp, which was in Virunga forest in eastern DR Congo, they underwent light military training and political sensitization.

“We rose at dawn daily and embarked on early morning drills that included running around the field carrying each other, frog marching and struggling though several obstacle courses,” he writes.

He goes on to tell of his experience staying in a refugee camp, illegal ivory and timber trade from the Democratic Republic of Congo with the Ugandan army and his life in Kampala city, then settling in America.

The book depicts an innocent boy, surrounded by tribal hatred, having to make difficult decisions including killing people if that is what will ensure his survival.

“I have cried for Ezaya [a friend who died in the war] so many times, from guilt and sadness, but mostly from anger; anger at the ADF, at the local tribes fighting each other at various warring factions and at the world. We were just kids, what did we do to deserve this?” reads an extraction from the book.

Emotional all through, the book, for a first-time reader, delves briefly into the political history of the region, highlighting Uganda’s influence in the affairs of her neighbours. This is the second book written by Weikama after African Son, which he wrote in 2012.

Wolokoso: Gashumba, UCC at war

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 11:22

Frank Gashumba, a social and political commentator, and the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the body that regulates broadcast media, are at war.

This follows a letter from UCC to NTV ‘banning’ Gashumba from appearing on the Serena-conference -hall-based television station.

In a letter to NTV dated October 10, UCC wrote: “The UCC has repeatedly received complaints regarding the content of programs hosted by your station where Mr Frank Gashumba is a guest speaker. The commission, therefore, directs you to stop broadcasting of such programmes with immediate effect.”

The agency said Gashumba used profane language during one of the shows and warned NTV that it will revoke its license if they continue broadcasting programs that feature Gashumba.

On October 27, after Gashumba learnt of the existence of the letter, he shot back.

“When did UCC become a complainant? When did UCC become an investigator, court and a judge? In any case if I had committed any crime in any of my submissions, I would have expected the police to summon me,” he wrote on his Facebook wall.


Nyombi Thembo now anti-violence preacher

He might have conceded graciously when he lost to Simeo Nsubuga but deep down, Nyombi Thembo must still be hurting.

For most of last week, the former minister traversed parts of Kassanda South meeting various groups of women and youths and preaching a gospel of non-violence.

According to a post on his Facebook wall, he was commemorating one year since electoral violence was unleashed against the people of Kassanda South during the NRM primaries.

“My message is simple: shun electoral violence because leaders that come in as a result of violence and intimidation, lies, confusion, cheap popularity and nepotism will lead with the same for they are convinced this is what works.

Leaders who stupidly believe that they were made by witchdoctors, goons and moneylenders will always pay their allegiance to the ones they believe made them. Never expect services from such leaders,” he told a group of youths in Kiganda during one of the meetings.


Missing in action: Moses Byaruhanga

In the early 2000s, Moses Byaruhanga was one of the most influential political wheelers and dealers at State House where he served as a senior presidential advisor on political affairs.

He used to write regularly in newspapers and feature in talk shows on radios and TV stations. Yet over the last couple of years, Byaruhanga has gone quiet and hardly makes any public appearances. Word is he has decided to concentrate on his milk processing venture.

DP’s Mbabaali weds quietly

Last Friday, Jude Mbabaali, the Masaka LC-V chairperson, quietly tied the knot during mass wedding at St Jude Parish Catholic church in Masaka.

The mass wedding was a side show during the occasion to mark St Jude’s day organized by Masaka diocese. Mbabaali had been invited as chief pilgrim.

The name of the lucky woman is Barbara Kabejja and we understand that the two have lived unofficially together for some time and have three children. Wolokoso wishes them a happy marriage

Africa withdrawal from ICC sends wrong message - UN

Sun, 10/30/2016 - 00:59
Ban Ki Moon

Attempts to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) by some African countries sends a wrong message of commitment to justice, says UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon.

The UN secretary general says, instead, the court’s processes need to be strengthened from within so it can administer justice to the powerless across the world. Ban's call comes days after three African countries; South Africa, Burundi and Gambia voted to withdraw their membership from the Hague-based court. They claim the court was specifically set up and has been used to persecute only African leaders.

Accordingly, South Africa and Burundi have informed the secretary general, who is the depository of the Rome Statute of the ICC; of their intent withdraw from the court which was set up to handle crimes committed by those who wield and hold positions of power, influence or command.

Official communication from Gambia - the third country intending to withdraw from ICC has not been received by the UN as yet. Uganda, a known critic of the court has also remained silent amidst the growing withdrawal wave. Kenya has also in the past indicated the intention to also withdraw from ICC.

Speaking at the start of a Security Council meeting on cooperation between UN and regional organizations on matters of international peace and security, Ban said the intended withdrawal by African countries is regrettable.

The UN chief said that the world had made enormous strides in the international justice system, with the ICC as its centrepiece, which had secured "ground-breaking convictions."

He however acknowledged that so far, only Africans had been convicted, despite evidence of crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity elsewhere but stressed that such challenges are best addressed not by diminishing support for the ICC.

“I regret these steps [of withdrawal], which can send the wrong message on these countries’ commitment to justice. These challenges are best addressed not by diminishing support for the court but by strengthening it from within, he said. 

He added that "Deterring future atrocities, delivering justice for victims, and defending the rules of war across the globe are far too important priorities to risk a retreat from the age of accountability that we have worked so hard to build and solidify."

According to ICC, the withdrawal will only come into effect one year after the official notification. The court's founding Rome Statute sets out the tribunal's jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and - as of an amendment in 2010 - the crime of aggression.

In addition to jurisdiction, it also addresses issues such as admissibility and applicable law, the composition and administration of the court, investigations and prosecution, trials, penalties, appeal and revision, international cooperation and judicial assistance, and enforcement.

Bunyoro kingdom accuses NFA, Police of illegal logging

Sat, 10/29/2016 - 19:22

Bunyoro-Kitara kingdom is accused the National Forestry Authority (NFA) and police of aiding illegal logging on the Kyangwali ancestral land.

The accusations come barely two months after a court order issued by Julia Acio, the assistant registrar at Masindi High court to maintain the status quo on the ownership of the 22 square kilometer land, pending the outcome of the main application filed by NFA challenging the land title.

The title for the land, which NFA says is part of the Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Hoima district has since been cancelled by the ministry of Lands on grounds that it was issued in error. The kingdom however maintains that the title is genuine because the ministry has never written officially about the said cancellation.

Bunyoro kingdom prime minister Norman Lukumu says that the forest reserve has become a base for illegal logging. Lukumu alleges that there is a conspiracy between NFA and the police to deplete tress from the contested land.

Part of the forest cleared by investors

“There is timber at the guardhouse. Everyday you go there, there is timber. You go there another day; the timber is gone, another day you go there, there is timber. And that logging is being done on our side not on the side of NFA.

Surprisingly. So, you ask what is the motive? The increment in the number of police [officers], I suspect is for purposes of simply guarding people who are logging illegally because, they should never tell anybody a lie that there is violence in that place. It is not there. There is no problem between Banyoro and Bakiga or the Alurs or the Barundi who are in that place”, he said.
 
Lukumu adds that the land in contention is of great value to Bunyoro kingdom because it holds several cultural sites including King Kabalega's tactical base during the fight against the British colonialists.
 
“[Kings] Kabalega, Kamurasi…they brought many of these trees and herbs from Karangwe in Tanzania, many were brought from the forest of Ituri in Congo and particularly in Bulega areas where Kabalega was born. So, we cherish these forests and nature generally as Banyoro. Those areas were for our kingdom. You hear of Muhangaizimwe, Muhangaizimwe is a ritual site for the king. But the king is bound to go to that area of Muhangaizimwe every month and he carries out his rituals. Muhangaizimwe is in Kyangwali ancestral land.

However, Jimmy Ouna, an environment specialist with NFA refuted claims that NFA is cutting trees for timber from a reserve under its protection. Ouna says that NFA has worked together with the police to impound timber from illegal loggers.

Julius Hakiza, the Albertine regional police public relations officer says that that at the moment, no complaints have been lodged against individual police officers who might be overstepping their mandate to log on the disputed land.

Kabaziguruka speaks on killing Museveni

Fri, 10/28/2016 - 13:04
Michael Kabaziguruka

President Museveni surprised many in July when he told opposition politicians at State House Entebbe that MICHAEL KABAZIGURUKA, the Nakawa MP, twice tried but failed to kill him at his farm in Kisozi, Gomba district.

This followed the charging of Kabaziguruka for treason, terrorism and planning to overthrow the government by force of arms. In an interview with Baker Batte Lule at his home in Luzira, Kabaziguruka denied the charges. He wondered why it has taken four years to have him committed to the High court for trial if the president has evidence against him as he claims.

Who is Michael Kabaziguruka?

I’m 39 years, born to Mr and Mrs Kabaziguruka of Kabale. I was born in Kampala. I normally say that I’m a Mukiga by descent but a Muganda by birth.

I’m a certified accountant by training. I’m also a member of the certified public accountants of Uganda and now I’m a politician representing Nakawa division in parliament.

You defeated Freddie Ruhindi, a senior member of President Museveni’s cabinet. How did you do it?

I’m sure it was not the first time I was defeating him. I defeated him in 2011 but of course he rigged the election. But this time round my emphasis was on vote protection, which we did carefully and we managed to defeat him just like we did in 2011.

He was not very difficult to defeat because he had so many weaknesses; he thought it was all about money. He didn’t care to find out what people’s aspirations were. We concentrated on knowing what people wanted and that is what we addressed. That’s how we managed to kick NRM out of Nakawa.

When you say he rigged the election in 2011, why didn’t you challenge his victory in court?

I knew I had some internal weaknesses on my part. The vote protection mechanism was not well-prepared. I thought I should use the results as a learning experience and better organize myself in future. I didn’t think that a protracted court battle was the solution. It was not in my interest.

As Nakawa MP, you have spent more time in prison than in parliament. How did you get in that mess?

To be precise, my only activities in parliament were the swearing in and the election of the speaker. As you have rightly put it, I have spent much of my time as an MP in Kigo prison, since June 28 up to last Thursday when I was granted bail.

However, my being in prison was not because I had committed any crimes but the state thought that I could be a source of instability because of my mobilization skills.

Mobilization to do what?

There are so many activities that the president would want my neck for. One time he called a meeting of KCCA councilors to State House and I also called a parallel meeting on the same day with the same councilors.

None of the FDC councilors turned up at State House. All of them came here [his house]. Even tomorrow [Wednesday], he expects them at State House but I can assure you none will be there. They will be here because I also invited them here.

Why are you doing this?

If the president wishes to engage our FDC members, he should formally communicate. We should not get phone calls from all places saying the president wants you. If it is a formally-organized meeting with a clear agenda, it should be formally communicated.

We have not seen any document inviting our councilors. So, we do not engage in any clandestine activities. We want activities fully on the table. So, as long as the president continues to use under-the-table methods, we will not be part of that confusion.

Is mobilization of FDC councilors reason enough for the president to have you charged with treason?

It is not the first time he is charging me with treason. In 2010, I was charged with treason and I was released on January 13, 2013, and I have been reporting to court since. The state has even failed to commit my case to the High court for trial. I was still reporting to the Magistrate’s court for mention of the case.

Ideally, I should have been committed to the High court within six months but it has been four years and the case is not going anywhere. So, when a second treason case comes up, I’m not surprised. On the day I was nominated on December 3, 2016, the magistrate dismissed the 2012 case for lack of prosecution. When I won the election, that case was reinstated.

I was never formally informed, I read about it in the papers. I went to court to find out whether what I was reading in the papers was true. The magistrate told me that she had dismissed the case in error and that she had no powers to do so.

I asked her why she did not tell us yet our particulars were on file. Our phone numbers and our residences were on file. She could have made an effort to notify me or my sureties. I had three sureties, [Nathan] Nandala-Mafabi, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda and my auntie. But I think they did that in order to cancel my bail.

But when that didn’t happen, they went into overdrive and you know my party FDC had indicated that we would start a series of defiance activities aimed at ensuring that the president didn’t swear in. As a result, they kept me under house arrest from mid-April until May 15. They lifted it and allowed me to go to parliament on May 16 to swear in.

After attending the swearing in ceremony of the lord mayor [Erias Lukwago] and the councilors, I was called by lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi to swear an affidavit in favor of the defiance campaign, which I did on behalf of the party. That afternoon, after leaving Rwakafuuzi’s chambers, I went to Luzira prison to check on Dr Kizza Besigye who was incarcerated there.

After I came back to my home, at around 11pm,I found it surrounded. I knew it was the routine siege but in the morning they requested to come in and conduct a search. Because I had no sinister reason not to allow them in, they came and searched wherever they wanted and found nothing. The next morning, they came back and carried out a second search which really scared me because I thought they had planted something the previous day, which they came to recover just like they did in 2012.

What did they discover in 2012?

They alleged that they discovered magazines, uniforms and police knives. But that was on the third attempt. They had searched twice in my presence and discovered nothing but after I had been remanded to Luzira, they came back alone with the media and that was when they allegedly discovered some items from the places I had seen them search twice. They discovered well-oiled and well-protected items.

If these items were actually buried there, I don’t think they would be as neat as they were when they were recovered. So, when they were carrying out a second search, it scared me a bit because I knew they had planted something, which they would then purport to have recovered.

Good thing is that the lord mayor [Erias Lukwago] and MP Moses Kasibante were here and kept an eye on them to see that they don’t plant anything. After the second search and nothing was recovered, I was taken back to the Special Investigations Division offices in Kireka where I was to later be released on bond.

When I signed the papers, they bundled me in a van and brought me back here and said I was not allowed to move. They heavily deployed in my compound and outside with policemen in all sorts of police gear. I was driven out every morning to Kireka where my bond would be extended to the next day for the 21 days I was under house arrest.

The other place they took me to was Nalufenya police station in Jinja where they intimidated me into signing some papers. They threatened to get physical and I knew that that this was not my statement and I would make my case in court. So,I didn’t want to go through beatings because I know what those guys are capable of.

When I looked at those who were arrested with me, much as I didn’t know them, and I saw how badly beaten they were, I didn’t want to go down their route. I signed the statement. In that statement it was alleged that Gen [David]Sejusa was involved in subversive activities and that I was aware and didn’t take any steps to inform the minister as the Penal Code Act says.

When I signed the charge and caution statement in Nalufenya, the charges were treason, concealment of treason and terrorism. And the particulars related to Gen Sejusa. I wondered why I was arrested yet the real person they say was planning the plot is out there.

After signing the statement, I was brought back here (my home) and the following day I was taken to the Kibuli police surgeon and eventually to Makindye magistrate’s court. In about 30 minutes, the military picked me up and said I was to be charged in the General Court Martial.

In the dock, there were so many soldiers. I asked who they were. They said that they we were on the same file with me. I asked them how and whether they knew me. They said they were also wondering why they were there. I was eventually remanded to Kigo prison where I have been for four months.

To take you back to mobilization, why are you interfering with the president’s work yet according to the 2016 results, he defeated your FDC presidential candidate?

As you all know, the 2016 election was rigged. He holds the fort for the presidency not that he [Museveni] won the election but because he controls the instruments of coercion in this country; the guns and the money. However, it’s not true that I’m trying to subvert his activities. I’m only trying to teach him how to do things formally.

As I said, we do not believe in under-the-table activities. We are not in the habit of being invited to State House informally for a cup of tea and lectures. We are not NRM members that he can bully us to State House for some tea and cakes and five million shillings for transport to support his line of thought. We have independent minds. We have brains and we don’t operate like robots. So, we are not engaging in tea talks.

You mean to say the president can sanction treason charges simply because you have mobilized councilors to boycott his meetings?

I’m not saying that is the reason because that would be making it trivial. The reason he did that is because he thought that we were going to engage in activities aimed at removing his government. It was a party position that the 2016 elections were not free and fair.

We had clearly told this country that we were going to engage in a defiance campaign. It was only me who swore an affidavit in support of the defiance campaign and I was the chairman of the FDC elected leaders in Kampala. Therefore, I held sway over those leaders. They charged me for wanting to overthrow this government by force of arms but there were no arms recovered.

Is overthrowing Museveni’s government by force of arms an option for you?

Definitely not. We do not want to go full circle to where this country has been. We do not wish that to happen in this country. We have always said both privately and publicly that we will use peaceful means to remove this rotten regime and I stand by that.

The president said you went to Kisozi with intent to assassinate him.

That I went to Kisozi to kill him; that would be really brave! I read in the papers that a snake attacked his farm and wanted to eat only one cow; it was shot dead. If a snake that wanted to eat a cow was shot, what about me who had dared to kill him?

Did he really see me and say yes I have seen you but you are free to go? I find it absurd that the whole head of state would engage in; for lack of a better word, silly talk. If he had evidence, he should have produced it in 2012 but for four years they even failed to commit me for trial in the High court.

So, how can he go on talking about things he has no idea about? For heaven’s sake, he is supposed to be the fountain of honor in this country and by that title it means you cannot engage in reckless talk. I think he has brought himself so low when he engages in wishful talking.

Why would he accuse you of something so serious like that? You are not the only opposition leader in the country.

That was a veiled attempt to influence the panel at the court martial. That was not a message for the public, but for his soldiers; the ones that he has appointed to try me in the general court martial.

That was a veiled order to them to make sure they convict me. I wonder why the president would even utter particulars of a case he has failed to even commit to the High court for trial.

Is there a link between your defeating Freddie Ruhindi and the current charges against you?

The two are one and the same. I know Ruhindi publicly accepted that I defeated him but he never took it nicely. He has continued to engage in activities to ensure that he brings me down. I have been incarcerated in Kigo prison but I know that he; not they, continued to engage in activities visible and invisible to bring me down.

Shed more light on which activities and the ‘they’.

They know what I mean when I say “invisible” and Ruhindi in particular knows what I mean. He engaged in invisible activities to ensure that I don’t get out of Kigo prison.

Ruhindi will shed more light, I will not do his work for him. By the grace of God, I’m here alive and kicking and I want to tell him that I will live very long irrespective of what he does.

Ruhindi is currently out of government, how can he influence your continued stay in prison?

What you see is not what you get. Looks can be very deceptive.



Why are you opposed to being tried in the General Court Martial?

Have I ever applied to be part of the military? Have I ever been part of the military and do I wish to be? I don’t think that, I being a civilian, I should be tried in the general court martial. There are other competent courts that could handle that kind of offence I’m charged with.

I don’t know; is the evidence only sufficient for the general court martial? Why are they dying to have me arraigned in the court martial? If they have evidence like they say, why don’t they present it in a competent court? The court martial is a kangaroo court where I don’t expect to get a free and fair trial. None of the people who sit on that panel is even fit to be a magistrate of any grade.

So, how can they consider getting involved in a case whose maximum penalty is death? We know the kind of training judges get but those in the army court have not got any training that would put them in a position to interpret the law.

You can appeal the judgment of the military court martial if you are not satisfied.

Why should I subject myself to an illegal entity, then appeal later? That would be madness.

Will you appear before the General Court Martial if you lose your appeal against being tried there?

I will not accept to be tried by the General Court Martial. Because I know it is partial. It is under the direct command of Museveni. I know I can’t lose at both the appellate courts. The judiciary is not so bad although, yes, some have sold out. They have already swum with the fish and they smell like fish.

But I know there are still competent judges out there and they will do what is right. What is right is that I should not be tried in the general court martial.

What impact are these cases having on the people you represent in Nakawa?

My people are very understanding. They know that I’m fighting for their rights because it might be me today but tomorrow it could be you. You could be arraigned in the Court Martial for no reason. I will continue fighting to ensure that what has happened to me does not happen to any other person.

The law needs to be streamlined so that we know whether the court martial is competent, let alone a court. We need to understand the legal framework in which it was established because we have looked at the constitution and clearly we have failed to establish why parliament established a court martial. It should have been a tribunal like what the police have.

We think that the UPDF should just have an internal tribunal to try members of the UPDF and for limited offenses. But for cases that carry death as the maximum sentence, they cannot be tried by that tribunal. So many militaries across the world have got tribunals but they don’t behave like ours here.

When I go back to parliament, I will challenge the UPDF Act that establishes the court martial. It is an absurdity that such provisions were put to grant the military court such jurisdiction.

I’m also going to appeal the ruling of Justice Patricia Basaza, which was not very carefully thought out. I think the court of appeal will be more sober and I believe there are still judges who are going to help this country. Those who don’t want us to go back to the past where we have been. We also want to go to the Constitutional court to make a raft of applications all aimed towards changing the legal framework that puts the court martial in its place.

Do you believe that there is a court that can side with you, especially after the president said you wanted to kill him?

As I said, not all judges have swum with the fish. I remember it was The Observer that reported that the president said that ‘we will not release Kabaziguruka’ but as you can see the courts have released me because in those courts there are judges who love this country.

How has life been in Kigo prisons?

Kigo is not an isolated case, it is almost in all prisons that prisoners are fed on very poor meals. If you look at the quality of posho and beans that are served, they are not what a normal human being should be served.

Was it the same food you were eating?

Prisons of course don’t provide a special diet. If for any reason you need a special diet, you would provide it yourself. So, my relatives and friends kept on bringing me food which I have been feeding on for the duration I have been in prison. Otherwise, if I were to feed on prison food, I wouldn’t be the way I’m now.

Now that you are out, are you going to further the defiance campaign you swore an affidavit in support of?

Absolutely, there is no way I will turn my back on something I strongly believe in. For all intents and purposes, this regime is finished. It is a rotten regime that has nothing left to offer the people of Uganda.

Yes, they might have done a few things in the past but they are now a liability that we need to write out of our books. Watch the space, we will move forward.

Some people feared that you were an NRM mole within FDC.

In any struggle, those accusations and counter accusations will always be there. As I said, we are dealing with people who are so keen on doing things from under the table.

We expect such things to happen. However, those challenges will not stop the push for change. They may engage one or two people but those few people cannot subvert the will of millions of Ugandans. So, whether I or a few other individuals decide to fall out, that is our problem but we will not stop the train because it has already left the station.

bakerbatte@gmail.com

DP boss questions ‘selective' treatment of Besigye in court

Fri, 10/28/2016 - 12:54
DP Secretary General Mathias Nsubuga

The unresolved quarrel between the Democratic Party and the opposition Forum for Democratic Change has swerved to another topic.

DP Secretary General Mathias Nsubuga Birekeraawo has questioned what he calls selective treatment of CoI (rtd) Kizza Besigye, the FDC former presidential flag bearer, who on Monday, October 17, left the country for Europe and the United States.

Charged with treason for declaring himself winner of the February 2016 presidential elections, Besigye has travelled to Europe and the US twice in approximately one month.

“Besigye was charged with treason but despite this charge, he is allowed to move in and out of the country. Is that selective rule of law or what?” Nsubuga charged.

“When DP members such as Evaristo Nyanzi, Anthony Ssekweyama and Dr David Lwanga, among others, were charged with treason [in the 1990s], they were not allowed to leave the country until they were exonerated by court,” Nsubuga said.

“Up to now MP Michael Kabaziguruka is still in prison [he has since been released on bail]; like Besigye, he was charged with treason but I wonder whether there is treason graver than the other,” he said.

While Besigye was still on remand in Luzira prison this year, Nsubuga went to State House as part of the Inter-Party Dialogue (IPOD) meeting with President Museveni. During the meeting, the leaders pleaded with the president to pardon Besigye and Kabaziguruka who were both in prison on treason charges.

However, this infuriated Besigye who wondered why Nsubuga should plead for him without his (Besigye) blessing. He argued that pleading for mercy presupposes that he is guilty of the politically-motivated offences he is charged with. 

Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, the FDC spokesman and MP for Kira municipality, said DP should focus its energies on building a stronger party.

“I think Nsubuga can ask court to cancel Besigye’s bail if that will make his party stronger,” Ssemujju said.

Nsubuga, however, said his party condemns the continued deployment of police and security agents at Besigye’s home in Kasangati. DP believes in the rule of law, he said.

The deployment at Besigye’s home, he added, goes against his fundamental human rights and must not be allowed to continue. Before he left the country on his latest trip abroad, Besigye endured 24-hour  daily surveillance at his home in Kasangati while his movements elsewhere were closely monitored. 

bakerbatte@gmail.com

NRM casts doubt on age-limit survey report

Fri, 10/28/2016 - 12:46
NRM secretary general Kasule Lumumba

The NRM secretariat has responded angrily to survey findings showing that 73% of Members of Parliament do not support amending the constitution to eliminating the age limit for aspiring presidential candidates.

According to the survey report released by Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy (CCEDU) this week, among the NRM MPs who were interviewed, 65 per cent indicated that they would not support such an amendment.

Responding to the findings of the survey in an interview with The Observer on Thursday, NRM secretary general Justine Kasule Lumumba, said “it is premature” to conduct such surveys. She cautioned the pollsters to “stop putting the country in a political mood.”

“We expect CCEDU to be concentrating on making NRM deliver on what we promised the country in our [election] manifesto,” she added.

Much as parliament will have the final say on the age limit issue, Lumumba said, the specific question on the lifting of the presidential age limits is a matter to be determined by the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC).

However, some prominent NRM leaders are already pushing for the amendment of Article 102(b) to remove the upper age cap of 75 years for anyone aspiring to be president.

The Kyankwanzi NRM district conference took the lead, passing a resolution in July that urged their MPs to support such a move. The resolution was handed to Museveni early in August at the conclusion of a cabinet retreat at the National Leadership Institute Kyankwanzi.

SURVEY FINDINGS

The survey was conducted by CCEDU and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) between September 16 and October 7, not long after the collapse of a motion by Nakifuma MP Robert Kafeero Ssekitooleko to introduce a private member’s bill to amend the constitution.

While Ssekitooleko’s bill was silent on Article 102(b) of the constitution that fixes the age for presidential aspirants at 75, many political analysts saw it as a decoy for the same.

The politics that played out during the tabling of Ssekitooleko’s bill influenced the NGOs to study the MPs’ attitudes to electoral reforms. According to NDI’s resident director in Uganda, Simon Osborn, the survey targeted all the 324 directly-elected MPs, excluding government ministers “because they are always bound by cabinet decisions.”

NDI is an American non-profit organisation that works with partners in developing countries to increase the effectiveness of democratic institutions.

“We randomly selected 196 MPs from a stratified sample of the target group by geographical region, MP mandate and political party affiliation and interviewed 185 [of them],” Osborn said during the launch of the report on Monday at Nsambya, Kampala.

The MPs were interviewed by phone for an average of 38 minutes each. Although the pollsters gave their findings a margin of error of + or -1.5%, the NRM secretariat expressed doubt that the report represents the true picture of MPs’ attitudes on this issue.

“First of all, we don’t know how they conducted the survey. They could have given the MPs leading questions, and there is no evidence that they conducted the survey,” Lumumba told The Observer on Thursday.

The NRM secretariat’s spokesman, Rogers Mulindwa, cast similar doubts on the report, telling The Observer on Tuesday:  “It is possible majority of the respondents were not NRM MPs. They could have been either opposition or independents.”

According to Mulindwa, some of the NRM respondents could have been reluctant when answering the survey questions because to them it is too early to talk about lifting the age limit.

“Some responses could have been against it [lifting the age limit] because we have not made it an issue. If we make it an issue and it goes through the right procedures, the dynamics will change,” Mulindwa said.

“Some MPs could have spoken independently because the party caucus hadn’t sat but if they were speaking after the party had taken a position, I doubt whether the survey would have come up with such figures,” he added.

President Museveni with Kasule Lumumba

During Monday’s launch of the report, the question of NRM MPs’ consistency kept coming up, with some of those present wondering whether the 65% can stick to their position once such an amendment goes to parliament.

“It is possible that some of them answered that way because they felt that a ‘no’ is the answer we wanted to hear,” one of the pollsters conceded.

Among opposition MPs, 97% said they would not support the amendment while 81% of the independents indicated that they would vote against such as proposal.

According to the report, support for amending the age-limit clause is highest among MPs from northern Uganda at 33% followed by their colleagues from the East at 30%. The report also suggests that the proposal is likely to get more support from district woman MPs (28%) compared to constituency MPs (26%).

NAME THEM

Mulindwa challenged the NGOs to reveal the names of their respondents for the ruling party to look at the findings with a degree of credibility.

“They could have interviewed aggrieved party members; those with court cases,” Mulindwa said.

But Crispy Kaheru, ccedu coordinator, told The Observer that CCEDU will not breach the respondents’ confidentiality as it embarks on a campaign to encourage MPs to openly pronounce themselves on what they stand for.

He added that CCEDU is also planning to reactivate its electoral reforms taskforce that brings together civil society organisations (CSOs) in the campaign for electoral reforms.

“We are undertaking a multiplicity of actions including diplomacy – lobbying the MPs to support the reforms, and open advocacy,” Kaheru said.

ELECTORAL COMMISSION

On reforming the appointment of the Electoral Commission (EC), 77% of the MPs supported the idea of a selection process involving applications and public scrutiny by an independent body, parliamentary vetting and finally presidential approval.

The tenure of the current EC expires on November 17 but political parties, under the interparty organisation for dialogue (IPOD), have asked President Museveni to delay fresh appointments until a new formula has been agreed with all parties.

“We sought audience with the president, and have also written a follow-up letter asking him to halt the appointment of a new EC until a formula is agreed upon [by all the parties],” said DP secretary general, Mathias Nsubuga Birekeraawo.

IPOD is a platform that brings together all political parties with representation in parliament.

sadabkk@observer.ug

Gen Kayihura: bad leadership is killing police

Fri, 10/28/2016 - 12:36

The inspector general of Police Gen Kale Kayihura has admitted that poor leadership within the police force has affected the way it functions.

Kayihura, who has led the force for 10 years, was speaking at the police staff and senior college in Bwebajja, Wakiso, on Wednesday where he had gone to flag off a one-year senior command course.

“The problem is poor leadership from the IGP to Corporal,” said Kayihura.

The police chief said the biggest leadership problem is prevalent at mid-level ranks such as: assistant inspector of police, inspector of police, assistant superintendent of police and superintendent of police.

These manage police posts, booths, police patrols, armouries and supervise corporals and constables. Kayihura also noted that there is lack of leadership skills among some senior officers at the rank of superintendent of police (SP) and assistant superintendent of police (ASP).

Officers at the rank of ASP are usually in charge of police stations, head operations or can act as divisional police commanders while those at the rank of SP can be substantive divisional police commanders or regional police commanders.

Some of the senior officers even sit on police council, a crucial decision making organ of the police. Kayihura said if they are to have a quality force, the leadership skills from the rank of corporal to IGP must be harnessed.

“If we are to achieve our mission, we must have good and quality leadership,” said Kayihura.

Gen Kayihura inspecting a guard of honor at the Police college in Bwebajja

Kayihura accepted that some police officers had committed mistakes during elections, assuring that the force is in the process building capacity and rectifying the mistakes by sending the officers for further study.

“Some police officers did some mistakes during elections and that period is over and we must resume training to make sure that no more mistakes are repeated,” he said.

Quoting the former iron-fisted French leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, Kayihura said: “There are no bad regiments, but bad colonels.”

Kayihura cautioned police officers not to believe the talk that enrolling them onto the course is a punishment or a way of chasing them out of police.

“You know that I know some police officers who went to the media and reported that we are chasing you out of the force by sending you on course. When we send you here, it is not that we are chasing you from the force. [We are] recognizing your efforts,” Kayihura said.

A total of 111 senior police officers, including officers from South Sudan and Somalia, shall attend the course. At least 20 of them are female officers and at the end they shall be awarded a master’s degree in Peace and Security.

Kayihura explained to police officers that they have the experience and that is why they were chosen for the course. Kayihura also told the police officers that they will be doing a disservice to the force and to themselves if they don’t take the course seriously.

Abas Byakagaba, the commandant of the school, urged the officers to take the course seriously because they will be awarded a master’s degree at the end.
Byakagaba explained that those who will fail at the end of the course will not be given master’s degree. “It will be bad for an officer to spend here a year and goes with nothing yet his or her colleagues go with a master’s,” he said.

johnsonkagame@gmail.com

Kabaziguruka: I was forced to pin Sejusa

Fri, 10/28/2016 - 12:27
MP Michael Kabaziguruka

Nakawa MP Michael Kabaziguruka has challenged President Museveni to show proof that he made two attempts on the head of state’s life. 

Kabaziguruka said this in an interview with The Observer, his first since he was released by the High court on bail on October 20. The legislator has spent the last four months in Kigo prison, accused of treason, terrorism and planning to overthrow the government by force of arms.

In July this year, the president told opposition politicians during a closed-door meeting at State House Entebbe that Kabaziguruka tried to kill him at his farm in Kisozi in the central district of Gomba. He said the incidents took place in 2011 and 2013.

But Kabaziguruka argues that if that were true, why has it taken four years for the state to commit him to the High court for trial?

“That I went to Kisozi to kill him [Museveni]; that would be really brave. I read in the papers that a snake attacked his farm and wanted to eat only one cow; it was shot dead. If a snake that wanted to eat a cow was shot, what about me who had dared to kill him?” Kabaziguruka said.

He wondered whether the president has any evidence to back up his claims.

“Did he really see me and say, yes, I have seen you but you are free to go? I find it absurd that the whole head of state would engage in; for lack of a better word, silly talk. If he had evidence, he should have produced it in 2012 but for four years they even failed to commit me for trial in the High court. So, how can he go on talking about things he has no idea about?” Kabaziguruka said. 

He also revealed that when he was arrested in June this year, he was taken to Nalufenya police station in Jinja where he was forced to sign a statement implicating Gen David Sejusa in subversive activities.

“In that statement it was alleged that Gen Sejusa was involved in subversive activities and that I was aware and didn’t take any steps to inform the minister as the Penal Code Act says. I wondered why I was arrested yet the real person they say was planning the plot is out there,” Kabaziguruka said.

The MP said he signed the document against his will because his captors had threatened to beat him up. He said he had seen fellow inmates who were tortured and they looked really terrible.

He also accused the former attorney general and MP for Nakawa division Freddie Ruhindi of working to keep him (Kabaziguruka) in prison.

bakerbatte@gmail.com

Kampala mayors explain State House meet boycott

Fri, 10/28/2016 - 12:15

They instead plan to invite Museveni to hear problems in their areas

When the State House meeting of Kampala leaders convened by President Museveni got underway on Wednesday, there were many conspicuous absentees.

All five Kampala division mayors didn’t show up yet they had indicated they would attend the meeting. According to our sources, the mayors feared to be “misunderstood.”

Emmanuel Sserunjogi of Kawempe (DP), Charles Musoke Sserunjogi of Kampala Central (Independent), Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo of FDC (Lubaga), Ali Mulyanyama of Makindye (DP) and Ronald Balimwezo of Nakawa (SDP), all skipped the State House meeting.

President Museveni had invited Kampala leaders led by the minister for Kampala, Betty Kamya, to discuss the implementation of his Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo (no jokes term) in the capital as he bids to lead Uganda toward a middle-income status in 2020.

Speaking to The Observer yesterday, Emmanuel Sserunjogi, the Kawempe mayor who is also chairman of the Kampala mayors group, said they could not attend a meeting to which they had not been officially invited.

“We were eager to go but we never got official invitations. If you accompany someone to an occasion, it is his/her discretion to give you an opportunity to speak or not,” Sserunjogi said, adding that as mayors, they are very important people who cannot waste a day at State House knowing they would not address the president. 

He added that they also disagreed with the agenda of the Kampala minister.

“The minister had her own agenda, top of which was to strategize on how the president will win in Kampala in 2021 by 80%, but this is not our goal as Kampala mayors. We sat as an alliance and agreed not to be part of that group that wants Museveni beyond 2021,” Sserunjogi said.

He added, however, that they recognize Museveni as the president of Uganda and that they are willing to work with him to improve the lives of Kampalans.

“As the chairman of mayors, I will write to the president inviting him to our respective divisions to speak to our councils where we will tell him the problems of Kampala,” Sserunjogi said.

L-R: Makindye West MP Allan Sewanyana, Makindye division mayor Ali Mulyanyama and Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago

According to our sources, the delegation led by Beti Kamya met Museveni at around 6pm on Wednesday, though the meeting had been scheduled for 2pm.

The meeting went on up to around 8pm when Museveni excused himself to attend other meetings, leaving Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi in charge for the last couple of minutes before it ended.

The KCCA delegation included Benny Namugwanya Bugembe, the minister of state for Kampala, Jennifer Musisi, the executive director, and all the directors. At State House, they were joined by NRM Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa, Secretary General Justine Kasule Lumumba, and Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija, among others.

Efforts to speak to Kamya were futile as she neither picked nor returned our calls and messages. She told CBS radio, however, that the meeting with President Museveni focused on how to improve service delivery in Kampala and other developmental issues, but not politics.

Meanwhile, Bruhan Byaruhanga (Kyambogo University), the only KCCA councilor who attended the meeting, castigated the mayors and his colleagues (councilors) for allowing politics to stand in the way of development. He said they told the president Kampala’s challenges brought on by the limited government funding.

“We want government to increase our funding because Kampala contributes over 60% to Uganda’s GDP%” Byaruhanga, one of the only two NRM councilors in the city council, said. The other is Daudi Lwanga of Kampala Central.

Byaruhanga added that the president ordered KCCA to build more markets to absorb traders who continue to ply their trade on Kampala streets. He also called for the creation of more Saccos to enable ordinary people to secure soft loans and start businesses that could improve their livelihood.

Last month, President Museveni visited parts of Kampala and donated millions of shillings and tools to some youth Saccos. Other sources have told The Observer that Museveni also ordered KCCA to upgrade all feeder roads in the city from murram to tarmac in order to make Kampala more attractive.

On Tuesday, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and FDC councilors we spoke to said they would not attend the Wednesday meeting whose agenda was to perpetuate Museveni’s presidency.

“Beti Kamya declared herself the campaign manager for Museveni in 2021; she vowed that Museveni will get 80% votes in Kampala. I can’t be part of the entourage of the campaign manager of Museveni in 2021,” Lukwago said.

bakerbatte@gmail.com

Karooro lauds baraza for putting district leaders to task

Fri, 10/28/2016 - 12:08
Minister Mary Karooro Okurut

Mary Karooro Okurut, the minister for general duties in the office of the prime minister, has praised the baraza, a citizens’ advocacy forum that brings together policymakers, public service providers and public service users.

She said this last week at Boma grounds in Masindi, where locals engaged their leaders to share relevant public information and come up with corrective strategies to outstanding challenges.

“You people have the right to ask for accountability, the baraza is not for witch-hunting leaders, what we want is the truth on how money has been spent, I have also heard your complaints and I will report to the prime minister to take action,” she said.

On the same occasion, some residents criticized district leaders for not lobbying hard enough for government funding to improve the area’s degenerating roads, education and health facilities.

Led by Francis Wamani, the district youth councilor, residents said the district hospital has out-of-date equipment and has not been expanded yet the population is rapidly increasing.

“The hospital was built in 1922 to accommodate 100 in-patients but for that long it has not been expanded, the only money the district received is Shs 600,000 for giving it a facelift. How can government beautify the hospital yet the facilities are depleted?” he wondered.

He said that district leaders have also failed to mobilise money to buy fuel for the district hospital ambulance and that government money often comes too late when patients who need the ambulance are either worse or dead.

“It is true government is supposed to finance over 90 per cent of the budget, we need to see leaders who are able to mobilise local revenue; it is surprising that if I had a patient who needs to be taken to Mulago hospital, I have to pay.”

Abdalla Sserunkuma, the chairperson of the Masindi business community, said hospital employees ask for money to do scans and other medical procedures.

“Apart from doing business, I’m also a moneylender, there is a time a patient came to me asking me to lend him Shs 130,000 claiming the doctors wanted money before they could operate him. Since when did patients pay for operations at government facilities?” he asked.

Sarah Kalungi, a resident of Kisanja Kichope, wondered why the Operation Wealth Creation seeds get to beneficiaries late.

“Masindi is a fertile area and one would expect the leaders of Operation Wealth Creation to know our rainy seasons, the challenge is that the seeds come late during the dry season and more interestingly they are not enough,” she said.

LEADERS RESPOND

Mark Tivu, the chief administrative officer (CAO), blamed government for cutting district budgets every financial year.

“The contributions to the district is going down yet decentralization is good for the country; we realized that as the funds are dropping, the population is increasing, that’s why we think forums like the baraza can help government understand that people need better services,” he said.

“The district road budget was at least Shs 1 billion, but over the years it has been going down drastically, and things like OWC, as a district, we don’t have control.”

Godfrey Nyakahuma, the Masindi resident district commissioner, said government injects a lot of money into service delivery and it doesn’t want to see people suffer.

Besigye takes human rights, politics fight to Europe, US

Fri, 10/28/2016 - 12:01
Kizza Besigye at Entebbe airport before he left for Europe, US

Dr Kizza Besigye is using his latest tour of Europe and the United States to highlight what he says is the deteriorating human rights situation in Uganda, we have been told.

Besigye left the country on October 17. On October 19, he attended a ceremony at the University of Manchester where his wife, Winnie Byanyima, was honoured with a doctorate for her role in advocating for women’s rights.

Byanyima, a prominent politician in her own right and former member of parliament, is currently executive director of the charity organisation Oxfam. A day later, Besigye proceeded to Washignton DC, in the United States of America.

Besigye’s actual schedule remains a guarded secret but sources within FDC told us this week that the former presidential candidate wants the donor community to come down hard on President Museveni’s government over its human rights record.

Particularly, he is angered that donors have stopped at only condemning rights abuses without taking any extra measures.

“He is going to press for tougher action against government. He wants donors to be firm, not to just condemn,” said a party official who declined to be named.

The official, however, was not specific about who Besigye will meet and when, but we understand that he will hold meetings with some US government officials, lobbyists and pro-democracy civil society activists during his tour that will last two weeks.

The Observer has learnt that one of the meetings on the cards is between Dr Kizza Besigye and Maria Burnett, the associate director for East Africa at Human Rights Watch (HRW), an American human rights body.

Over the years, HRW has been vocal in its criticism of the government’s treatment of Besigye and general violation of human rights. There were news reports this week that Besigye will also make a presentation to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

The council, according to the reports, is due to appraise Uganda’s human rights record on November 3. Under its complaint procedure, HRC allows individuals, groups or non-governmental organisations to bring to its attention human rights violations they claim to be victims of or have reliably proven.

Uganda’s own statutory human rights watchdog, Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), on October 6 wrote to Besigye affirming that it had investigated some of the complaints he raised to them, such as unlawful detention and infringement on his freedom of movement.

“The foregoing allegations if proved, constitute a violation of your rights to personal liberty, freedom from torture, cruel inhuman or degrading treatment, freedom of conscience, expression…be informed that the matter has been set down for hearing against the attorney general’s office in its various capacity and we shall duly notify you of the hearing date,” noted the letter signed by Gordon Mwesigye, the secretary of UHRC.

We also understand that Besigye could hold meetings with unspecified officials of the World Bank’s Africa division. We don’t know the agenda of the meeting but in a tweet, he shared with the World Bank on October 26, Besigye said there cannot be business reforms in Uganda unless the political and economic situation changes.

In August, the bank withheld about $1.5 billion (Shs 5 trillion) to Uganda in loan support saying the country’s loan absorption capacity was very low. This is the second time Besigye is touring Europe and USA in slightly over a month.

In September, Besigye attended the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA Causes) convention in Los Angeles and later travelled to the UK for the Investment Forum.

ekiggundu@observer.ug

New chicken firm showcases unique breeds at poultry expo

Fri, 10/28/2016 - 11:59

Kukuchic Ltd, a fairly-new player in the local market but one of the leading day-old chick hatchers in East Africa, stood out at the recently-held international expo for poultry at the Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) show-grounds in Lugogo.

The Aviana Uganda 2016 show attracted more than 50 exhibitors, giving platform for poultry breeders and service providers to showcase their products, services and technologies.

Exhibitors, both local and international, included livestock feeds manufacturers, hatchers, breeders, poultry equipment and drugs (pharmaceuticals), among others.  Kukuchic, who opened shop in Uganda three years ago, had the busiest stall.

Chicken farmers flocked to their stall in large numbers over the two days, with majority of visitors seeking information about their broiler breed Cobb 500 and Rainbow Rooster, a dual -purpose broiler and layer bird. Started in Kenya by two young entrepreneurs; Dr Wesley Ruto and Adrian Ddungu, Kukuchic operates a multi-billion hatchery in Kiwoko, Luweero district. 

“In the beginning, we had chicken for slaughter but the returns were not impressive; so, we closed that wing and decided to concentrate on hatching chicks,” explains Ddungu, the company’s technical sales manager.

A Kukuchic stall

Kukuchic sells its Cobb 500 broiler at Shs 1,800 per chick while the Rainbow Rooster goes for Shs 3,000 each. If looked after to the recommended standards, Cobb 500 birds are ready for slaughter between four and five weeks, officials said. The Rainbow Rooster, on the other hand, starts laying eggs at six months.

Ddungu told The Observer that the demand for their products is good. The company is already taking orders for next year as the October - December period is fully booked, he said.

After establishing themselves in Kenya, Ddungu says they realized a gap and big potential in Uganda’s poultry sub-sector. Previously, a few big players such as Ugachick Poultry Breeders Ltd have dominated the market by dealing in multiple poultry services, including hatching, dressed chicken and eggs, animal feeds and drugs.

However, the situation has changed over the last couple of years with more investors entering Uganda’s poultry sector. While this has increased competition, demand for poultry products is also rising.

To entrench themselves in the market, Kukuchic will this week embark on seminars for its clients, starting in Mbarara and Masaka on Friday. Through these seminars, Ddungu said, Kukuchic expects to get feedback about its breeds and also give back to them by training on best practices for maximum returns. 

Poultry farming is one of the most popular activities in Uganda’s budding commercial agriculture sector. According to statistics from the ministry of agriculture, animal industry and fisheries, the poultry population in Uganda grew from 26 to 40 million birds between 2006 and 2012.

Last week’s Aviana show, the second to be held in Uganda, attracted major poultry sector players such as Ugachick, Yokuku and Biyinzika International, among others.

Aviana Africa hosts similar annual expos in Nigeria, Zambia and Kenya, among others, to promote poultry and livestock farming.

mugalu@observer.ug

Transport allowance: MPs insist on tax exemptions

Fri, 10/28/2016 - 09:54

The Parliamentary Commission has declined to back down on the contentious clause in the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2016 exempting legislators from paying taxes on their transport allowances.

The commission has instead asked the finance committee to send back the bill to the president to append his signature. President Yoweri Museveni returned the bill to the ninth parliament for reconsideration following widespread outrage on the clause exempting legislators from paying taxes on their allowances.
 
In his letter to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, Museveni noted that he was opposed to the decision by members of parliament to exempt themselves from taxes, saying it is injurious to the country's revenue effort and not politically and morally correct.
 
However, the Parliamentary Commission led by Usuk County MP Peter Ogwang and Workers MP Arinaitwe Rwakajara, insists that they can’t allow the mileage facilitation and travel reimbursements for legislators to be taxed as it will be double taxation.
 
“There is no way, you can give me money for fuel, [and] at the same time you want to tax that money which am meant to use to go and do my work in my constituency. Honestly, that will be double tax on a member of parliament. So, for this matter Mr chairman, for us, we’ve come as a commission to only put it to the public, that as members of parliament, they pay taxes every month. So, Mr chairman we want to make it emphatic, the position of the commission is; the law be returned back to the president”, Ogwang said.
 
The duo was appearing before the parliament's finance committee chaired by Rubanda East MP Henry Musasizi.  The committee is currently meeting stakeholders as it reconsiders the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
 
David Bahati, the minister of state for finance asked for more time to allow the ministry to come up with a position on the controversial clause.
 
“Since we received this communication, we’ve also considered the laws; the income tax laws. And our opinion at the moment, is that you give us some little time to consult on the law to whether duty-facilitated allowance can be exempted or what else can be prudent. This was an amendment from parliament, it was not from us,” he said.

The speaker has in the past come out to defend the clause, saying the respective attorney generals since the sixth parliament have been advising that mileage is exempted from taxation under Section 19 of the Income Tax law.
 
On the contrary, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) argues that mileage allowance falls under the taxable income bracket, saying any attempts to exempt legislators will affect domestic revenue collection.
 
Henry Musasizi, the finance committee chairperson, says the contention is on what constitutes employment income of MPs and what does not. He argues that part of the payments made to MPs constitutes employment income while others do not and that this needs to be harmonized with ministry of Finance.
 
The committee is scheduled to meet the attorney general, William Byaruhanga and URA officials today before drafting a report to parliament.

Luzira prison serves inmates beans at 12pm, posho at 2pm

Thu, 10/27/2016 - 20:14

Luzira Upper prison lacks enough saucepans to prepare meals for inmates, legislators sitting on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have been told.

Uganda Prison Services officials, who had appeared before the parliamentary committee to answer audit queries raised by auditor general John Muwanga in his FY 2014/15 audit report, said the beans and posho are served to the over 3,000 inmates at different times due to lack of enough saucepans.
 
Simon Kimono, an undersecretary of Uganda Prisons Services, who led the team, was tasked to explain the discrepancy amounting to Shs 66m meant for inmates' food. Kimono explained that it was a result of mistakes made in the budgeting process where the management forgot to budget for firewood.
 
As a result, prisons diverted Shs 66m that was meant for food to be used for the purchase of firewood. It was at that point that MPs raised concerns questioning if some inmates didn't go hungry without meals as a result of the mischarge.

Luzira Prison

Gerald Karuhanga, PAC vice chairperson questioned why inmates are served beans at midday and then posho at 2pm. This is when Robert Munanura, the commissioner in charge of custodial services, told MPs that they have few saucepans.
 
“Our cooking system allows that first all we cook beans in time, actually over night but because sometimes we lack where to keep them, we use the same saucepans and utensils. So we serve first (what is already prepared).

If we draw the example from Upper prison, which has 3,000 inmates, the issue of cooking is quite enormous. So we serve porridge for breakfast, we serve the beans and we serve the posho differently so that we can have where to cook those meals”, he said.
 
MPs questioned why prison authorities subjected inmates to inhuman treatment of first keeping the beans for hours as they wait for the posho. Eli Muhumuza, the commissioner in charge of planning and development at Uganda Prison Service, said that they requested for Shs 54bn this financial year for inmates meals but were only given Shs 22bn.
 
"Some schools have over 4,000 students but they prepare the meals for all students, how comes you can't feed 3,000 inmates? Do you want to say you haven't been able to buy saucepans all these years?" Angelline Osegge, PAC chairperson asked.
 
John Baptist Lokii, the Matheniko County MP threatened to rally other MPs to block the passing of the Prisons budget if they do not buy more saucepans.    

Minister refuses to commission building over shoddy work

Thu, 10/27/2016 - 15:42
Monument at Achaba school in memory of students killed by LRA

The minister for Presidency Esther Mbayo refused to commission a school building that was constructed at Achaba technical school in Oyam district over shoddy work.

Mbayo was on Wednesday invited by Oyam district authorities to commission the building that houses a multi-purpose hall, offices and the school library which was constructed through a pledge by President Yoweri Museveni.

However, on inspecting the building, the minister found that the work was incomplete and poorly done. The floor of the building and some walls had cracks, the ceiling had not been fixed and all the six toilets are incomplete.

The minister was disappointed to learn that Multi-line Construction Uganda Limited, a Kampala-based construction firm that was sourced by the ministry of Education and Sports had received all the money but failed in their duty.

“And I will not exonerate whoever was involved in the construction of this. The head master is requesting for accommodation for the boys, what will I tell the principle when I see shoddy work being done on the administration block. Shs 213m can do this work really?

What will my report be? There is a committee that I am going to send over to investigate further about construction of this administration block. This is corruption we are fighting in Uganda and I cannot sit back as the minister of presidency and I tell the president and make a report that the work was complete. How long can it take to complete this work because the money was given?”, she said.

She wondered how and why the engineer who monitored and supervised the work would give the contractor the certificate for completion of the work. She blamed the district engineer and the school management Board for failing to supervise the work.

However, Oyam district engineer explained that the work was directly supervised by engineers from the ministry of Education and Sports.  He identified the supervisors as Emmanuel Okello and Milly Okot.

“And all the money has been given to him. Where is the engineer? As the district engineer did you get involved in the supervision of this work?” Mbayo asked the engineer.

“No. It was the engineers from ministry of Education, Okello Emmanuel who was later transferred to Arua but later they brought engineer Milly Okot who was now to continue with the supervision of the work. And she is the one who authorised the last payment and I even invited her to come for this function but she said she had some commitments.”, he said.

Mbayo promised to appoint a committee of inquiry to investigate the manner in which the contractor was sourced and promised not to exonerate those implicated.

She suspects connivance by the members of the board, the district engineers, the school head teacher, engineers from the ministry of Education and the contractor to swindle the money.

“There’s a board but the board has never given a report about the shoddy work, the district engineer has never given a report about the shoddy work, the head master has never given a report about the shoddy work. What will the minister do? To appoint a committee of inquiry to come and find out exactly what happened and I told you, I will not exonerate whoever did this”, she said.

The minister was on Wednesday on a fact-finding visit of government initiated programs in Oyam district. On May 5, 1999, President Museveni visited the school and found the community who had just returned from the Internally Displaced People's (IDPs) camp struggling to put up the building when he pledged to support them with the completion of the building.

A budget was submitted to him and in FY 2011/12 Shs 213m was given to complete the work. To date the work has not yet been completed. The financial support was part of his efforts to revamp the school that was vandalised by the rebels of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) in 1996. More than 20 students were abducted in the raid.

Five of them died in captivity including James Oming, Stella Aceng, Harriet Akuti, Christine Aou and one identified only as Okiye. Meanwhile, seven of the abductees returned home. They include Okwir HP, Ketty Ayer, Betty Ejang, Martin Obel, Patrick Atim, James Adoko and Abong.

Editors' snub is contempt of parliament - Rules Committee

Wed, 10/26/2016 - 22:58

Parliament's Committee on rules, discipline and privileges has today ruled to charge editors from three media houses with ‘contempt of parliament.’
 
Editors from Uganda Radio Network (URN), The Observer and The Red Pepper were today expected to appear before the committee in line with publications carried by their media houses on parliament. For the third time, however, the editors did not appear before the committee.
 
This prompted committee chairperson Kenneth Ongalo-Obote to rule that the editors' behaviour is contemptuous and that parliament will take a final decision on the matter.
 
"They were all supposed to appear at 10am and the committee waited for one hour and they did not appear. We are going to start writing a report and we will submit to the House as soon as the sittings resume," Ongalo said.
 
He added, "This is now a decision for parliament to make, this is contempt. At first we had these stories, we could just have needed clarification on these stories."
 
The editors from the three media houses have in the past questioned the committee's jurisdiction to summon them to appear before it to clarify matters falling within their editorial discretion. However, Ongalo said that whether or not parliament had jurisdiction to summon editors is beside the point.
 
"They should have come and made that claim before the committee. By not coming, by not heeding our summons now amounts to contempt of parliament, and I think it is a very big mistake because parliament is a very important institution," said Ongalo.
 
He said that as much as parliament needs the media, the media also needs parliament since it is only parliament which stands between the media and censorship and that the media will always run to parliament. Ongalo said that it would have been important for media and parliament to cultivate the relationship of understanding.
 
“When they failed to show up when we requested them the first time, then that is when it escalated to contempt of parliament. So our second letter to them had to be summons and our third letter was summons which they have refused to honor. As committee, as the chair of this committee I have no more business with these papers completely. They will now wait to hear from the House on our recommendations and what the House adopts”, he added.

Summonses were prompted by complaints from MPs, irked by media coverage of lavish expenses. Notable among the issues was the Shs 150m car grant, a planned expenditure of Shs 68m as burial expenses for each legislator, and the trips to the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) conventions in Boston, Massachusetts and to Los Angeles California.
 
Parliament is disputing a URN story indicating that over Shs 2bn was spent to facilitate 78 MPs to attend the two conventions. The Observer is wanted to explain a story; Parliament shuts down for USA trip, published on September 2, 2016.
 
The Red Pepper is wanted to explain a publication by its sister newspaper 'Kamunye' with a montage of legislators depicted as pigs.

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