Police operatives at the Busia border post have arrested the widow of slain businessman Eriya Bugembe Sebunya alias Kasiwukira barely two weeks after she was acquitted of murdering her husband.
Sarah Nabikolo was arrested trying to cross the border into Kenya at around midday today. She is being transferred to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) headquarters in Kibuli, Kampala.
Nabikolo is being held on tentative charges of failing to avail her documentation at the border and attempted bribery of a customs officer.
According to the Busia district police commander (DPC) Nelson Nahabwe, the suspect had refused to provide her passport or National Identity Card at the border even though she had them in her possession.
"She wanted to use her driving permit to cross the border and when the customs officer refused, she tried to bribe him. It is then that our officers intervened and arrested her," Nahabwe told URN.
URN has however, learnt that the officers at the border arrested Nabikolo on orders from the CID headquarters.
A reliable source at the Kibuli-based directorate reveals that there was already an ongoing process to have Kasiwukira's widow dragged to court on fresh charges in relation to the murder of her husband.
"The arrest was definitely ordered from Kampala. There is no way police could allow her to move out of the country when we are trying to prefer fresh charges against her," the source who preferred anonymity since he is not allowed to speak for the force says.
Attempts to get a comment from the police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi on the fresh murder charges against Nabikolo were futile as he was not picking his known phone numbers at the time of filing this report.
Nabikolo was two weeks ago acquitted of murdering her husband on grounds that the state had failed to prove her involvement in the murder of Kasiwukira.
The High court however found her cousin sister, Sandra Nakungu and Ashraf Jaden, a police officer at Muyenga Community police station, guilty and sentenced each to 22 years in prison. Nabikolo was acquitted after spending two years on remand at Luzira Maximum prison.
Kasiwukira was murdered on the morning of October 17, 2014 as he did his routine exercise, jogging in the neighbourhood of Muyenga. He was hit by a car, which sped off immediately after the incident and the case was initially closed as a random hit and run accident.
It was only after fellow businessmen put pressure on the police that the case was re-opened and a murder inquiry started. During the inquiry, police found evidence pinning Nabikolo, her cousin and the police officer who was paid to knock Kasiwukira dead. This was however dismissed by the High court.
Makerere University vice chancellor, Prof John Ddumba Ssentamu has revoked the decision undertaken by university to suspend 15 students who were allegedly involved in a recent food protest.
The students were suspended yesterday for masterminding a protest against provision of poor-quality meals in Complex hall, Lumumba, and Mary Stuart. During the protest, that took place on Tuesday October 18, the students reportedly invaded the University Hall kitchen-serving centre and destroyed property including kitchenware.
The suspension triggered a wave of other protests yesterday and today by university students faulting the administration of being arbitrary and unfair to their colleagues.
As tensions mounted, Prof Ddumba held a meeting with student leaders to resolve the standoff. The meeting was attended by among others, the dean of students Cyriaco Kabagambe, the academic registrar Alfred Masikye Namoah, Frank Mwesigwa the commander Kampala Metropolitan Police and Makerere chief security officer SP Mucunguzi Jackson.
The student led by the guild president Roy Ssembogga pleaded for reconsideration to allow the suspended students back at campus. Ddumba agreed to the pleas and announced that the directive will be cancelled.
The meeting which took place at the council room at Makerere University resolved that students be called back as investigations take shape.
"I am going to write to the individual students who were suspended informing them of the decision. But the committee has already been constituted to investigate the involved students," Prof Ddumba said.
The affected students include: Gerald Wabugoya, Fahad Ndugwa, Joseph Mugume, Solomon Taremwa, Francis Kayira, Timothy Mambule, Justus Ayesiga and Simon Wanyera. Others are, James Kagenyi, May Francis Abit, Samuel Kigula, Rashid Kassim Njaliira, Rogers Ashabahebwa, Aziz Tworo and Donart Nayebare.
Earlier, their lawyer Isaac Semakadde had sought audience with the vice chancellor over the same. Ssemakadde, an advocate with Centre for Legal Aid, said that the university needed to rescind the decision on ground that an investigative suspension cannot be for an indefinite period.
Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has skipped a meeting today at State House Entebbe that would have brought him face-to-face with President Museveni, the man he loves to hate.
The meeting, also snubbed by some FDC councilors in the Kampala Capital City Authority council, was called by President Museveni. Beti Kamya, the minister for Kampala, and several other key leaders in the capital, are expected to meet the president today to discuss, among other things, how to effect Kisanja hakuna mchezo (no nonsense term) in Kampala.
The meeting, which was initially scheduled for Saturday, October 22, was communicated in a letter written by Samuel Baker Emiku, on behalf of the permanent secretary, Office of the President, on October 19.
“This is to invite you to accompany the minister for Kampala Capital City and Metropolitan Affairs to a meeting with HE the president scheduled to take place on Saturday 22 October at State House Entebbe starting at 10.00am,” the initial invitation read in part.
“The ministry for Kampala Capital City is expected to discuss with the president the strategy and plan that has been developed to deliver the capital city to a middle-income status based on the 2016 presidential directives contained in the Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo.”
In an interview with The Observer yesterday, Lukwago said he could not attend a meeting whose aim is to strategize for President Museveni to extend his rule beyond 2021.
“The letter I got from the undersecretary in charge of Kampala said that those who would like to accompany the minister are free to do so and those who wish not to go; it is their right,” Lukwago said.
Beti Kamya, the lord mayor said, “declared herself as the campaign manager for Museveni in 2021; she vowed that Museveni will get 80 per cent of votes in Kampala. I can’t be part of the entourage of the campaign manager of Museveni in 2021.”
Kennedy Okello, the chairman of the FDC caucus in the KCCA council, said yesterday that as a majority party in the council, they can’t attend a meeting whose agenda is not clear.
“We resolved as a caucus that it would not be proper for us to go meet the president because the agenda was not clear and the invitation was to those who wished to accompany the minister,” Okello said, adding, “We are elected leaders in constitutionally-recognized offices; so, you can’t call us without an agenda, just to have a cup of tea; it does not make a lot of sense.”
His views were echoed by Michael Kabaziguruka, the just-freed Member of Parliament for Nakawa division who doubles as shadow minister in charge of Kampala.
Kabaziguruka, who is facing treason charges and was released on bail at the end of last week, said President Museveni should learn to follow protocol when inviting people that don’t subscribe to his NRM party.
He said his party, FDC, doesn’t believe in doing things through the back door. Kabaziguruka added that instead of meeting Museveni, he and the lord mayor have organized another meeting with councilors that will take place at his [Kabaziguruka] home on Friday. Muhammad Ssegirinya, the FDC councilor for Kawempe North, said they fear to be compromised by President Museveni.
“If the president wants to see us, let him come to City Hall, we will speak to him. He wants us to go to State House to compromise us like he did to the previous council who he paid to chase Lukwago,” Ssegirinya said, adding, “I don’t even recognize Mr Museveni as our president; if it was Dr Kizza Besigye who had called us, I would go running…”
On the other hand, Ismail Tabaalamule, an independent councilor for Makindye, said he would have attended the meeting if he had been invited.
“If they had invited me, I would have gone because I think it is the responsibility of a leader to listen to everybody, even those you disagree with,” he said.
Meanwhile, the five division mayors had by press time indicated they will attend the meeting.
Speaking through their chairman, Emmanuel Sserunjogi, the mayor of Kawempe, the mayors said Kampala’s problems can only be solved with the president’s support.
“We all pay taxes, which President Museveni distributes to whoever he wants. That is not his personal money he is giving out. He is the one responsible for the budget and if we decide to stay away, we will be left out, yet all of us pay taxes,” Sserunjogi said.
He added: “I’m the leader of Kawempe and Museveni is the president of the country. He has everything I need to make Kawempe better. If he was telling me to go to Rwakitura, I would not have gone but State House is for the whole country.”
On his part, Ronald Balimwezo, the mayor of Nakawa, declined to say whether he will attend.
“I’m in a meeting, I will call you later,” Balimwezo said before hanging up.
Minister Kamya couldn’t be reached for a comment. She neither picked nor returned our calls. Not surprisingly, NRM councilors; Bruhan Byaruhanga of Kyambogo University and Daudi Lwanga of Kampala Central said they would attend the meeting.
The president’s letter was addressed to the lord mayor, division mayors, division resident city commissioners, the chairman Kampala district land board, the executive director KCCA and the metropolitan police commander.
Since the February elections which saw the opposition winning in Kampala, President Museveni has embarked on a charm offensive to win the hearts and minds of Kampalans.
President Museveni has met different leaders in Kampala, including councilors sitting on the five division councils, and also distributed money and equipment to Saccos across the city.
Meanwhile, his brother, Gen Salim Saleh, has been actively wooing opposition leaders to join NRM with promises of money and jobs.
Hundreds of former employees of the intelligence agency ISO accuse their leaders of receiving and pocketing about Shs 10bn they won in compensation.
The part payment was meant for about 1,000 former employees of the Internal Security Organisation. In 2013, the High court ruled in favour of the former spies and awarded them Shs 72bn in retirement benefits.
President Museveni later reached an out-of-court settlement and the claim was reduced to Shs 39bn of which only Shs 10bn has so far been paid. To manage the court process, the retrenched former intelligence operatives had appointed Jeff Lawrence Kiwanuka, Jamal Kitandwe and Bernard Kamugisha to represent their colleagues.
Now, six of the complainants want the High court to stop the trio from representing them. They claim the three fraudulently received part of the Shs 10 billion through a company called UVETISO and pocketed it. According to the six, their leaders have failed to account for the money.
Led by one Joseph Wawomola, the applicants contest the reduction of their retirement benefits from Shs 72 billion to Shs 39 billion. In his affidavit in support of the suit, Wawomola says that years after the High court awarded them Shs 72 billion, they discovered that their leaders, in connivance with Matovu and Company Advocates, and the attorney general, had entered a consent order reducing the sum.
They contest the consent order, arguing that it was irregular and unlawful in as far as it purported to nullify or vary the terms of the original award. They say that their leaders, again without their consent, executed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government.
In the MOU, it was agreed that government would pay Shs 10 billion in the financial year 2013/2014. The remaining Shs 29 billion, according to the MOU, was to be paid in two instalments in the financial years 2015/2016 and 2017/2018.
Intriguingly, Wawomola says in his affidavit, that in the MOU, the complainants’ representatives agreed with the government that the money would be put on Crane bank account number 0145034204600 belonging to UVETISO Limited.
“The said UVETISO Limited is not a former employee of ISO, a claimant or beneficiary of the terminal benefits awarded, nor is it a party to civil suit number 164 of 2004 and, therefore, its inclusion as a recipient of the sum was fraudulent,” the applicants say.
Through Muwema and Company Advocates, their argument is that the MOU could not legally substitute or vary the High court order which awarded them Shs 72 billion.
“Nevertheless, the fourth respondent (Attorney General) went ahead and paid Shs 10,000,000,000 into the account of the said company [ UVETISO Limited] which account was and is owned and controlled by Kiwanuka, Kitandwe and Kamugisha,” Wawomola says.
Wawomola adds that when they asked the trio to account for the Shs 10 billion, they claimed to have spent Shs 7 billion in costs and expenses, and the remaining Shs 3 billion on some beneficiaries as part payment.
“That from the above, it is clear that Kiwanuka, Kitandwe and Kamugisha misused or diverted the money for other purposes,” Wawomola claims.
“That Kiwanuka, Kitandwe and Kamugisha are intent on receiving more money from the fourth respondent [Attorney General] but they can no longer be trusted to act in the interest of the beneficiaries.”
Wawomola says he and other beneficiaries have reported Kiwanuka, Kitandwe and Kamugisha to the Special Investigations Division (SID) and the case is registered as GEF/56/2016.
In December 2014, the government ombudsman, Irene Mulyagonja, in her report blamed the former Attorney General Peter Nyombi for “misadvising” himself and the government on the MOU with the retired spies.
Mulyagonja said due to Nyombi’s “ill-advice”, only 117 of the 1,078 legitimate beneficiaries received some payment of about Shs 300m out of the first batch of Shs 10 billion.
According to Mulyangonja, a group of “well- stationed” officials in government, state attorneys and others took advantage of UVETISO and pocketed most of the money, which was wired to an account in Crane bank.
“Not all former employees of ISO entitled to terminal benefits were aware of the formation of UVETISO association, neither were all of them members of the association, and not all former ISO employees authorised UVETISO to receive terminal benefits from government on their behalf,” Mulyagonja said.
Police chief Gen Kale Kayihura has ordered all detectives to sit pre-entry exams before redeployment.
According to sources within the police, Kayihura also ordered that any officer joining the directorate of Criminal Investigations and Intelligence(CIID)must have a minimum qualification of Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (Senior six).
Constables who perform tasks such as recording of statements from suspects, taking fingerprints and visiting scenes of crime must have a minimum of Senior Six plus any law-related course, according to the new guidelines. A constable is the lowest-ranking police officer.
For officers who prefer charges against suspects and supervise constables, Kayihura said they must have a degree in law and at least some experience of more than three years in intelligence-gathering. Such officers must be at the rank of assistant superintendent of police (ASP) and above.
A police officer attached to CIID headquarters in Kibuli, who preferred anonymity, said the new guidelines require all officers in charge of criminal investigations at police stations (OCIDs) and their deputies to have law degrees and to have done more than four courses in intelligence-gathering.
Around 600 detectives are expected to start a six-month pilot training project in due course.
“We are planning to train at least 2,000 CIID officers but we shall be taking them in batches of 600,” the source said.
Officers will undergo an induction course, law, and military training, among others.
“All detectives who have spent more than 10 years in CIID without any course have to go for that training,” he said.
On Monday, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, the police spokesman, confirmed the new guidelines.
“It is very true the inspector general of police ordered us to streamline the directorate of CIID and also make sure we have standard investigators,” he said.
Kaweesi said all detectives will attend an induction course at Kabalye police training school.
After the first course, detectives will also write pre-entry exams.
“Officers who fail pre-entry exams will not be deployed in CIID,” Kaweesi said.
“After the course, officers that lack the minimum requirement of Senior Six will be deployed in other departments like field force police and general duties, among others, but not CIID,” he added.
According to our sources, Kayihura was forced to act after realising that many criminal cases in the courts are lost because of failure by the police to gather good evidence.
“Most of the investigators that we have in the police have no knowledge of the law and cannot even gather good evidence, which judges and magistrates can use to convict criminals,” a source quoted Kayihura as telling CIID personnel during a meeting last week.
“This is why police has lost most cases in court,” he told them.
Kayihura reportedly added that some CIID officers prefer wrong charges against offenders and cases end up being dismissed by judicial officers.
“How can we have someone in CIID who cannot prefer the right charge against a suspect? Such people must be pulled out from that directorate,” Kayihura reportedly said.
Kayihura is further said to have told the meeting that some CIID officers are more interested in soliciting bribes from the public than gathering good evidence to pin criminals in court.
However, one detective who has been lined up for training blamed his superiors for some of the CIID inadequacies. He said at times detectives do a good investigative job only for their bosses who might have a vested interest in the case to interfere.
President Museveni has in the past decried the police’s investigative weaknesses, at one time deriding them by saying their methods are outdated. The police, he joked, are fond of asking, Ani amulabyeko? (who has seen him/her) while pursuing offenders, which is not an effective approach.
At least 50 high-end vehicles are parked at the Central police station (CPS) in Kampala, most of them unclaimed by their owners almost a year since they were impounded.
The vehicles include a 4WD belonging to Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) founding president Dr Kizza Besigye. Other cars rotting away in the yard include a Mercedes Benz, BMW, Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota Harrier and Toyota MarkII.
Joshua Tusingwire, the head of the criminal investigations at CPS, said his office is only investigating 17 impounded vehicles, which were handed over to him when he took up the office recently. Tusingwire added that he had no idea who was responsible for the rest of the vehicles parked in the yard.
“When I came here, I was only given 17 vehicles whose cases my detectives are investigating and when investigations are finished, I will offload them,” he said.
Tusingwire said majority of the impounded vehicles could be from the Flying Squad, the police violent crime crack unit.
“Maybe you can inquire from them,” he said.
However, the Flying Squad commander Herbert Muhangi told The Observer that he only has one car parked in the yard.
“It belonged to a German national who died early this year in Germany and the driver took it to his home but the wife of the deceased reported the case and we picked the car from the driver’s home,” he said, adding that the widow would soon pick up the vehicle.
Muhangi also referred us to the traffic department, but the director for traffic and road safety, Dr Stephen Kasiima, denied having any vehicles in the CPS parking yard.
“I don’t have any vehicle in the yard. All vehicles impounded on traffic offences are taken to the Inspector of Vehicles (IOV) in Naguru,” he said.
According to Kasiima, when vehicles spend six months at Naguru, they are auctioned in line with the law.
“I don’t keep traffic exhibits for more than eight months,” he said.
However, our police sources indicated that most of the impounded cars now parked at CPS have no case files.
“There is a habit here at CPS that when a CID officer is handling a sensitive case and he or she is transferred, they go with the file and the case dies a natural death,” a detective said.
“Most of those cars which are getting rotten in the yard have no files and it becomes hard for the new CID officer to offload them,” he added.
The cars are impounded for different reasons, including being exhibits in cases of murder and robbery, among others.
Asked about Besigye’s car, FDC spokesman Ssemuju Ibrahim Nganda said the “police know where they picked the vehicle from.”
He added that since the car was impounded for political reasons, the police can either return it to Besigye’s home or do whatever they want with it.
The governments of Uganda and South Sudan have agreed to deploy a joint police force along their common border to stem the rampant killings of travellers.
Since forces loyal to South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar resumed fighting four months ago, at least five buses plying the Juba - Kampala route have been ambushed and many people killed. Others have been abducted and are still missing.
The joint deployment started on Sunday, October 23, after the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on Saturday at Kampala Serena hotel.
Uganda’s Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura and his South Sudan counterpart Gen Makur Marol Aduot witnessed the signing of the MOU.
Before the signing, Gen Kayihura said: “Lives and property have been lost at Nimule, Juba road and this situation required urgent initiative and meeting.”
Kayihura added that police is duty bound to protect the people and their properties.
Gen Makur apologized to Ugandans who have lost loved ones in the South Sudan skirmishes.
“We are here to discuss the security of our common border and protection of people from Kampala to Juba,” he said.
“What happened will not happen again because we shall have strong resolutions from this meeting,” he said.
A source who attended the six-hour meeting said the two countries agreed to cooperate in the areas of border security, highway security, investigations, counter terrorism and crime intelligence, among others.
The two police chiefs, our source added, agreed to establish taskforces to respond to urgent security challenges.
“We have also resolved to pursue criminal gangs and dismantle terror cells in both countries,” the source added.
Andrew Felix Kaweesi, the police spokesman, on Monday confirmed the joint deployment along the common border.
“During the security meeting, we resolved that we should heavily deploy along the Uganda, South Sudan border to make sure that people coming and going to Juba are safe,” he said.
Kaweesi further said that Uganda has deployed the Flying Squad, the police’s violent crime crack unit, in the northern Uganda districts of Kitgum and Gulu to hunt down armed gangs who are terrorising Ugandans there.
“A group of people suspected to have come from South Sudan armed with firearms have penetrated Acholi region and are killing people; so, we have deployed the Flying Squad to arrest them,” he said.
Herbert Muhangi, the Flying Squad commander, said on Monday that some criminal elements have been arrested.
“We have arrested many people and recovered guns from them.We are holding them in different police stations in northern Uganda, pending investigations,” he said.
He added that most of the recovered guns are not marked, and are suspected to have come from South Sudan or Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ugandans will have an opportunity to work in Jordan following the signing of an agreement between officials of both countries.
The ministry of gender, labour and social development signed a bilateral labour agreement with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to pave way for Ugandan migrant workers to find jobs in the Arab kingdom.
The agreement was negotiated and concluded in Jordan during an October 10-13 visit by a delegation led by labour minister Janat Mukwaya. The minister and her Jordanian counterpart, Ali Ghezawi, held bilateral talks that paved the way for the deal.
Commenting on the concerns over the violation of rights of Ugandan workers in the Middle East, the director for Labour at the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Martin Wandera, who was also part of the Ugandan delegation, noted that Jordan was unique compared to other Middle East countries because it has the most progressive labour laws in that area.
“The issue of workers’ rights was discussed exclusively and the decision to conclude this agreement was informed, among others, by the fact that Jordan has a progressive law regime and enforcement mechanism.
The labour enforcement mechanism includes a toll-free line available to migrant workers that provides 24-hour real-time responses,” Wandera said. “Such a complaints procedure is not readily available in the countries where our workers have had problems.”
Key features of the agreement with Jordan include an employment contract that will be signed by the employee, employer in Jordan, the recruitment company in Uganda and the recruitment company in Jordan.
Accordingly, the Ugandan and Jordanian recruitment companies, as well as the employers in Jordan, will be jointly and severally liable for the implementation of the employment contract.
“This is a departure from the current contracts that are signed only between the employee and the foreign recruitment company,” Wandera said.
Other provisions that will change the landscape of externalising labour are accreditation by the Uganda government of all Jordanian recruitment companies before they can recruit Ugandans, approval of job orders by the Ugandan embassy accredited to Jordan, and quarterly updates about the status of Ugandan workers in Jordan by the ministry of labour of the Kingdom of Jordan.
Despite this new agreement, the ban on externalisation of domestic workers still awaits the minister’s review.
Police in the western district of Rubirizi have arrested a 38-year-old man with 32 pieces of hippopotamus teeth. The teeth weigh 15 kilogrammes.
Hussein Seka, 38, a businessman from Kasese town, was arrested on a tipoff from the Natural Resource Conservation Network, a non-government organization which protects endangered animal species. He is currently detained at Rubirizi police station.
Seka, believed to be a dealer in animal body parts, faces a charge of possessing protected animal species contrary to Section 75 of the Uganda Wildlife Authority Act.
He claims he got the hippopotamus teeth from the Democratic of Congo-Uganda border. Robinah Birungi, the officer in charge of the criminal investigations in Rubirizi district, said in a telephone interview on Monday that the suspect was arrested in Katunguru town as he attempted to transport the teeth to Rubirizi where he said, a businessman was waiting for the animal cargo.
Julius Odeke, the head of media relations at the Natural Resource Conservation Network - NRCN, said cases of animal product trafficking have increased of late.
A hippopotamus is a highly-aggressive and unpredictable animal, ranked among the most endangered animals in Africa due to the threat posed to them by habitat loss and poaching for their meat and teeth.
Like elephants tusks, hippopotamus teeth, which can reach a length of three feet (1 metre), are used in the making of high- value ivory products.
A Ugandan national has been found dead at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Netherlands. The deceased, a 53-year-old, was identified as Michael Odong.
He was found in possession of passport number B1140204 and visa documents indicating that he was proceeding to Geneva-Switzerland.
"A person was found dead at Schiphol airport Amsterdam. He is called ODONG MICHAEL. Passport number B1140204. Place of birth Gulu. Date of birth 30th September 1963, He was using Uganda Passport en route to Geneva," a message circulating on social media read.
Odong is reported to be the assistant commissioner in charge of Agrochemicals at the ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries. A message from the ministry indicates that he was traveling to Geneva for official duty.
"It's sad for us at the ministry of Agriculture here in Entebbe. Info confirmed. This was an assistant commissioner in charge Agrochemicals and was traveling to Geneva on official work," A message from a staff of the ministry reads.
Circumstances that led to his death are still unclear.
Makerere University has suspended 15 students over a recent food strike at Mary Stuart dining hall.
On October 19, a group of students from Complex hall, Lumumba hall, and Mary Stuart staged a strike to protest poor quality meals.
They raided Finland bar and restaurant, which was contracted to provide the meals. As a result, the university administration has suspended 15 students believed to be the masterminds of the strike.
The affected students include Gerald Kammanah Wabugoya, Fahad Ndugwa, Joseph Mugume, Solomon Taremwa, Francis Kayira, Timothy Mambule, Justice Ayesiga, Simon Wanyera, May Francis Abit, Samuel Kigula, Rashid Kassim Njaliira, Rogers Ashabahebwa, Aziz Tworo and Donart Nayebare.
They are accused of inciting fellow students to invade Mary Stuart hall food serving unit to pour food and vandalise property including chairs and kitchenware.
In his October 25 letter to Gerald Wabugoya Kammanah, the chairman Lumumba hall one of those suspended, Makerere University vice chancellor, Prof Ddumba Ssentamu, says the suspended students must vacate the university premises by 5:00pm today.
"For avoidance of doubt, you are required to leave university premises by Tuesday 25th of October not later than 5:00pm," reads the letter.
URN has learnt that a number of students from Lumumba, Mitchell, University and Livingstone halls have also been served the suspension letters. Ddumba asks the affected students to stay away from the university during their suspension.
"During the period of your suspension, you will not be required to make appearance on university premises, and / or participate in any university activities including lectures, coursework, and tests."
The directorate of citizenship and immigration control failed to exhaustively account for over Shs 52bn advanced for the purchase of the biometric kits to be used in the national identity card enrollment project.
Appearing before the parliamentary public accounts committee (PAC) today, immigration officials said the procurement process was ‘hijacked’ by the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) who should explain better how the money was spent.
At least Shs 52bn was spent on the purchase of biometric kits and other equipment. They included laptops, cameras, finger print scanner, signature pads among others. In his FY 2014/15 report, the auditor general, John Muwanga noted that the providers of the kits presented a lump sum figure of Shs 52.2bn as opposed to the unit cost of each kit.
"This made it difficult to make a comparison of the bids. Further, it was not possible to compute the liquidated damages as a result of late delivery of 3246 spare batteries and 3258 USB hubs", the auditor general's report notes in part.
Godfrey Sasaga, the director citizenship and immigration distanced his team from the purchase of the biometrics kits, saying the procurement was hijacked by ISO following a cabinet resolution that reasoned that the issuance of the national IDs was a national security matter.
PAC chairperson, Angelline Osegge tasked the immigration officials to name the items in the kits in vain.
“Whether it is technical or scientific, there is no product called a ‘kit’. Here you were buying an item. The item constituted a kit, so [you should] have included the prices of items in that kit. Now, what you have given us does not even give us that information”, said Osegge.
“I think that is where the procurement problem was and I admit there was that kind of gap in all this information [provided]”, Sasaga responded.
Gerald Karuhanga, the Ntungamo municipality MP accused the immigration officials of providing the committee with incomplete documents.
“No, no. No. This is very embarrassing because you can imagine item A; laptop Poland 4,258, unit price [not] included. Finger print scanner unit price [not] included, signature price [not] included - nothing. You don’t want anybody to know the unit price of any these items”, Karuhanga charged.
MPs blamed the immigration official for negligence for alleged failure to pay attention to costs of particular items, which could have cost taxpayers loss of money.
“You’re the accounting officer, you sign off this money. So for you, what were you signing off for?” Karuhanga asked.
“For a kit!” Sasaga answered.
“A kit?!”, asked Karuhanga.
“Yes” Sasaga answered in the affirmative.
“Even if they gave you an empty box? For you are just interested in a kit”, Karuhanga further prodded.
“The kit had components in it. The problem and I agree with you, is that at the procurement level…” said Sasaga before he was cut short in his submission.
“Mr Sasaga we are talking about Shs 52bn, so you ought to have been interested in what was in this that we are paying for” Karuhanga said.
PAC chairperson Osegge noted that ISO doesn't have the prerogative to flout procurement laws, saying they will not hide under classified expenditure.
Karuhanga said according to the documents before the committee, the procurement process was handled by Deborah Katuramu, the secretary in the Office of the President and Dan Mugisha, the ISO contract manager. The committee said it would resolve on how to proceed on the matter.
Masaka local government has sent panic into residents of Kimanya-Kyabakuza after announcing plans to demolish over 100 houses allegedly constructed in a road reserve.
The affected houses, located in Kimanya B, Kimanya A, Kisuuna and Katafaali zones, were cited for demolition after a survey undertaken by the area local government leadership. The survey found that many of the houses were constructed in road reserves and without approved plans, according to Masaka town clerk Innocent Ahimbisibwe.
Ahimbisibwe says access routes will be opened up to improve the infrastructure in the municipality adding that none of the affected people is eligible for compensation. However, the directive has aroused panic among the affected residents who are now petitioning the municipal council to block the demolition.
Achilles Mawanda, an owner of residential and commercial buildings in the area says he secured an approved plan to construct the premises but was equally shocked to have the same structures blacklisted. Mawanda possesses a plan approved by former Masaka municipal physical planner Sarafino Olet.
He says although the municipality has indicated they will not compensate him, demolition of his property is illegal.
“The plan was approved and stamped and according to the plans I saw in the physical planning authority, I saw there were roads that were to be constructed in the future. This was way back in 2003. And just recently, I was informed that people had started making clearance for the construction of these said roads. This is now 13 years down the road. As far as I know, this is a very good project which I strongly support but wherever there is such a kind of project, it should always involve popular participation of everyone in planning and participation. Because you can imagine, you wake up and find a trespasser putting a mark on your house.” said Mawanda.
Edward Kayinja, another affected person says that although he secured a plan, the municipality law enforcement officers told him his entire gate is in the middle of the road and will be demolished.
But the municipality has declined to explain circumstances under which persons with approved plans secured them. Godfrey Kayemba, the Masaka mayor says people took advantage of the laxity in enforcement to construct in road reserves. He says unapproved construction has created slums in an area which was formerly an organized residential settlement.
“You can’t have development when you don’t have roads. We have areas that were totally abandoned, slums. You can’t even give them service because you have nowhere to access them. They do not even access their homes themselves with vehicles. If a fire outbreak comes in some of the slum areas like in Nyendo and Kijjabwemi we can’t access to put out the fire…So that is why we are moving in gradually to survey these roads. We are doing it together with the people because majority of the people need these accesses.” Kayemba said.
A suspected rebel group in South Sudan has asked for ransom before they can release Ugandans captured during ambushes along the Nimule-Juba road.
Gen Makur Maruol, the inspector general of the South Sudan national police services says they have received information that the abductors are calling relatives of the abducted to demand for money.
“I have learnt that some of the relatives are receiving calls from [the abductors] for a ransom. We’ll make all the available means to secure the release of the two. It is a joint venture. If the Uganda police has any information [they should] give us the telephone numbers of the those who are communicating from South Sudan so we try through our intelligence to track those people and find them”, Maruol said.
A rebel group believed to be loyal to the former first vice president Riek Machar has reportedly captured a total of 41 Ugandans since fresh fighting broke out earlier this year. They were picked from Kampala bound buses and along border districts.
These include the 23 who were abducted along the Nimule-Juba highway in May and eight timber dealers who were abducted in July, from Lubone sub-county, Magwi county; five kilometers out of Lamwo district in northern Uganda.
While the eight were later released after their relatives paid a ransom of Shs 3m each, another four businessmen were captured during the same month. The businessmen who are still missing; were captured by suspected militias in Pajok trading centre, Magwi county in Eastern Equatoria State of South Sudan.
Out of those abducted in May, seven escaped and were found by South Sudanese police while another six were abducted in the month of August. Records by the South Sudan police indicate that up to 26 Ugandans are still held by the rebels.
Gen Maruol says that despite intelligence information that the relatives of the victims are receiving calls for ransom, only two have since provided information to the South Sudanese police. South Sudan police now wants Uganda police to help link them to relatives of all the victims so they can help track the kidnappers.
He was speaking during a meeting between the police chiefs from both countries held at Serena hotel in Kampala over the weekend. Two task teams have now been set up to track down the abductees as well as ensure safety of all other Ugandans using the highways from Uganda borders to Juba.
Uganda inspector general of police (IGP) Gen Kale Kayihura says these task teams comprised of both Ugandan and South Sudanese police officers will begin tracing for the missing Ugandans with immediate effect.
“We have set up two joint teams. One of those among other tasks is to begin looking for the abducted Ugandans. A specific task which we have given ourselves because of the capabilities between ourselves and South Sudan and of course the sister agencies. It is something we have made a priority. It is a task that why we have put this task team”, said Kayihura.
Meanwhile, the South Sudan police has asked Uganda to hand over supporters of former vice president Riek Machar suspected to be rebels. The supporters who are believed to have entered the country as refugees in the last two years were labelled as rebels by South Sudan.
FDC bans members from bringing phones into meetings
Trust among FDC officials has been eroded by reports of moles within the party’s ranks, who are accused of spying for President Museveni and his NRM government. These reports have caused panic and crippled strategic planning, The Observer has learnt.
Although such allegations are not new, sources within the FDC intimated to The Observer last week that the “moles” could affect or jeopardize the execution of the opposition group’s controversial defiance campaign led by Dr Kizza Besigye, the former party president and flag bearer during the 2016 elections.
The FDC’s deputy secretary general, Harold Kaija, confirmed to The Observer that the party had started treating some of its leaders with suspicion after it was discovered that they could be secretly working for the state.
“When there is some sensitive information that we want to pass on, we select the people to inform,” Kaija said.
Nonetheless, he said it is virtually impossible to weed out moles because once the old ones are identified and isolated, new ones emerge. The party secretary for mobilisation, Ingrid Turinawe, told The Observer over the weekend that infiltration of the party was a challenge which they had learned to live with.
“Sometimes we have to delay our plans or to postpone them because some people have leaked information to intelligence,” Turinawe said.Dr Kizza Besigye (2nd R) with supporters in Kampala. Some FDC party officials are accused of leaking party secrets to state agents
In meetings with party activists, sources said, Besigye has constantly emphasized that the defiance campaign needs focused leaders who do not waiver. Yet, so far, state intelligence agents have registered some success in using party supporters to spy on Besigye and other leaders.
The agents, we have been told, also target youths, some of whom are part of Besigye’s security team. The youths, who work as informants, are said to be vulnerable as they are not gainfully employed.
The Observer has been told that some are engaged on a monthly retainer basis while others are paid whenever they provide information. For instance, we have been told that the party’s leadership was puzzled how Besigye’s posters, announcing his return from Europe, ended up in the hands of the police.
Sources said the posters had been given to a young activist whose trust and loyalty to FDC had never come under question. However, the officials were shocked to learn that the activist had literally handed over the posters to police in exchange for a monetary reward.
It is these posters that Andrew Felix Kaweesi, the police spokesman, displayed before journalists on October 2, a day before Besigye returned.
Besigye, who once again flew out to the United States and United Kingdom on October 17, has admitted in the past that one of his biggest mistakes is placing too much trust in some of the people that he works with.
Besigye has also said in the past, when asked about working with Gen David Sejusa, that he does not dwell on someone’s past as long as that person believes in change.
Yet having worked closely with some politicians who turned out to be moles volunteering sensitive information to his political opponents rather than allies supporting his cause, Besigye has learnt some lessons that seem to have shaped FDC’s new rules of engagement.
For instance, sources told us that between 2011 and 2015 Besigye admired Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko’s passionate criticism of President Museveni.
“Besigye used to challenge us to stand up to Museveni like Nsereko and this used to annoy some of us. We warned him that he could not be trusted,” said a party insider.
An independent MP, Nsereko is today more critical of FDC than he is of NRM. Following this experience, our sources say that Besigye has since become very cautious in his dealings with other opposition activists.
“Besigye knows that some people are already compromised by state agents because government wants to know what is happening around him,” said the source.
Now, we have been told, the FDC founding president only shares sensitive information with a select group of leaders he trusts. That is why some party members are usually not kept in the loop.FDC supporters at the party headquarters
Secondly, in some meetings at his residence, participants have been told to leave their phones in the car, fearing that they can be used as listening devices by security agencies.
Yet in bigger party meetings where many leaders are involved, it is difficult to guarantee that some sensitive information will not be leaked. Our source quoted Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, the party president, saying that insiders who are determined to spy on the party for economic again might find other ways, such as using their heads, after phones have been restricted.
The party is particularly wary of MPs, among other opposition figures. For instance, reliable sources have told us that Kato Lubwama, the Lubaga South MP, has since become persona-non-grata at Besigye’s home.
Some party enthusiasts are reportedly not happy with the conduct of the vocal MP, who has lately been accused of hobnobbing with government insiders. He has also been accused of being unjustifiably critical of Besigye on radio. Yet when Besigye campaigned in Kampala, Lubwama, a Democratic Party supporter, did not leave his side.
According to our sources, two other FDC MPs are being monitored closely. One of them has been accused of leaking sensitive information and party secrets to security agencies for more than two years now.
Asked about suspicion regarding some MPs, the FDC’s mobilisation boss Turinawe said the party would handle them covertly, adding that the electorate usually punishes such leaders during elections anyway.
As Besigye and FDC try to find solutions to this problem, some leaders told us that it is going to be difficult for the party to completely alienate some of its leaders under suspicion.
Some of the suspected ‘spies’ remain influential in their areas and Besigye and the FDC need them to broaden their cause. Out of the 432 MPs in the 10th parliament, opposition lawmakers are a paltry 57, meaning that numerically they do not pose a major challenge to NRM.
The former leader of opposition in parliament, Wafula Oguttu, said there could be some MPs within FDC working for NRM but this will not deter Uganda’s leading opposition party and its staunch supporters from working to change the status quo.
“There is strong opposition outside parliament,” he argued.
“So, even if some people let us down we shall push on from the outside.”
Fearing poverty and political oblivion, politicians who lost seats in the February 2016 general elections are lobbying hard for government jobs, The Observer has learnt.
According to our sources, some of them have in the last six months approached the Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa, the political assistant to the NRM chairman Molly Kamukama, and members of the first family, lobbying for government employment.
During a recent interaction with members of the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA), Nankabirwa confirmed that politicians who lost their jobs have been lobbying her office. Nankabirwa attributed this to the politicians’ financial indiscipline.
The NRM chief whip, however, later declined to say more, saying she did not want to embarrass her colleagues. But one former legislator who declined to be named said on Thursday that the politicians turned to Nankabirwa’s office because she was asked by President Museveni to handle their issues.
“It was during the caucus meeting [that] we had after the elections [on March 11] that the president handed us to her after members begged him for jobs. Many have written heavy dissertations (sic) of their CVs and taken them to her and other offices,” the former MP said.
One of the high-profile casualties of the last elections is former attorney general and Nakawa MP Freddie Ruhindi. To earn a living, Ruhindi has since revived his law firm, Ruhindi & Company advocates on Raja chambers along Parliamentary avenue.
However, according to NRM sources, Ruhindi has his sights set on the position of chairman of the Electoral Commission when Badru Kiggundu’s term of office expires next month.
Interviewed, Ruhindi confirmed his CV was in a number of government offices but denied lobbying particularly for the EC top job.
“It is true my CV is everywhere because I am the former attorney general of Uganda, but I am not aware of that. I also heard some things in the media about it but I am not aware of anything,” Ruhindi said on Thursday.
Some of his former cabinet colleagues such as Sarah Kataike Ndoboli (state for Luweero) and Rebecca Amuge Otengo (state for Northern Uganda) are reported to be working with Museveni’s younger brother Gen Caleb Akandwanaho aka Salim Saleh in Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), where another former MP Benjamin Cadet (Bunyaruguru) is reported to have scooped a contract to supply seedlings.
Former Sheema Woman MP Rosemary Nyakikongoro was recently appointed a member of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). She is also said to be keen on competing for the East African Legislative Assembly.
During the March 11 NRM caucus meeting, Museveni promised the politicians some kind of ‘financial push’ for them to venture into agriculture or the services sector. As they wait for Museveni to deliver on his promise, some former lawmakers are already into farming.
“I can’t go begging for a job like a fresh university graduate; I can’t be that desperate…You know some of us get into those positions and forget about planning for the life after,” a former MP said.
Among those into farming is former Kakuuto MP Mathias Kasamba who has an expansive farm at Ttome, Kakuuto, in Rakai district.
“If my farm gives me Shs 6m a week, what do I need a government job for?” Kasamba said, before adding, “but if they feel that my services are needed anywhere, I am always willing to serve.”
Earlier reports had suggested that Kasamba would be appointed to head the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) but the job eventually went to one Emmanuel Iyamuremye.
Others who have embraced farming included Dr Crispus Kiyonga, the former minister of defence, who is said to be the biggest pineapple grower in Kasese district.
The former MPs have also formed an association named “Members of the Ninth Parliament Association,” which is in its final stages of registration. Through the association, they hope to benefit economically and socially from the government.
“In the past, when an MP lost an election, they disappeared…Many colleagues who were in the seventh and eighth parliaments have disappeared, and that is why we decided to form this association to better our economic and social wellbeing,” former Tororo MP Sanjay Tanna told The Observer on Friday.
“There is nothing strange in this. Many of us are in [different sectors] where we can benefit each other. It is basically to harness our [different] skills,” Tanna added.
Tanna is the association’s interim chairman, deputised by former Bubulo East MP Simon Mulongo.
Other leaders of the group are Edward Baliddawa, Tim Lwanga, Lulume Bayiga, Boaz Kafuda and Harriet Ntabazi.
Sarah Kulata-Basangwa is out to hold onto her job again but allegations of corruption, and being in cahoots with the rich and mighty weigh on her shoulder, writes ALON MWESIGWA.
When Kulata was appointed the commissioner in charge of land registration in December 2007, she appeared set to lead reforms at the department laden with fraud and forgery.
President Museveni gave the new appointee one year to have all the 500,000 land titles at the time in digital form. Kulata’s experience and background as a lawyer seemed the perfect fit for the new task.
Almost a decade of her tenure later, all indications are that land-related fraud has increased. Forgeries are the order of the day, and the digital system is nothing but an avenue for the quick transfer of titles from one owner to another. Government is paying billions of shillings in compensation for land that it actually owns!
Kulata, meanwhile, turned into one of the most powerful women in the country outside politics – loathed by many and praised by others. Early this month, Kulata was interdicted yet again, with the ministry’s permanent secretary David Gabindadde-Musoke directing that she hands over the lands registry office and must not leave the country without his permission.
The Observer sought out several individuals conversant with the goings-on at the lands registry and they all unanimously said Kulata’s signature is one of the most important things in a land dispute.
A lawyer, who worked with the commission of inquiry into corruption in the roads sector last year, said Kulata had created a power base, taking advantage of existing loopholes.
“She is someone who has run that department to the grave,” the lawyer said.
Prior to her appointment, Kulata had had a thriving career at the ministry of lands’ sector strategic plan department. On three occasions during in her tenure (2011, 2014, and 2016) cabinet unsuccessfully attempted to interdict her by passing resolutions that she be investigated.
But Kulata has survived all these moves. Our source attributes her survival to “powerful individuals” behind her.
She has also used the courts to pour cold water on attempts to uproot her from her job. In 2011, Kulata fought off the Inspectorate of Government’s efforts to get her out of office. The IGG then, Raphael Baku, ordered that she leaves office to pave way for investigations into a case that was before the Anti-Corruption court.
Kulata had been accused of parceling out land worth over Shs 11bn to Kikonyogo Investment Ltd when it actually belonged to Lakeside City Ltd. In 2012, the Anti-Corruption Court discontinued charges against her, arguing that there was a related civil matter before another court. Kulata was back in office.
TRAIL OF INDICTMENTS
In 2013, Idah Nantaba, the minister of state for lands, wrote to Ethics minister Simon Lokodo complaining that land registrars had become unethical in their work, leading to illegal evictions.
Nantaba singled out Kulata, accusing her of “working in cahoots with land registrars across the country to fraudulently sell public land and issue fake titles.”
Nantaba added that government was losing land and property such as hospital grounds, school playgrounds because of such officers who allocate land to crafty individuals.
A cabinet meeting held on February 5, 2014 was particularly explosive, with Kulata’s conduct under the spotlight. The cabinet directed the ministry of lands to take administrative action against her and other registrars. Not action was taken.
When Daudi Migereko, then minister of lands, appeared before the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) commission of inquiry into roads sector last year, he expressed distrust of the people he worked with. Whereas he did not refer to Kulata in person, Migereko said most of the officers at the lands registry were out for quick riches through fraudulent deals with the rich.
When she appeared before the same committee, Kulata said she couldn’t be held responsible for fraudulent titles. She said district land bosses were responsible and that her office was at the tail-end of the process.
The commission went ahead to implicate her as one of the individuals culpable for abuse of office, and causing government huge financial loss due to negligence and failure to follow procurement procedures.
Last month, Kulata again ran to court seeking to quash the commission’s findings. That was just before she was interdicted. The Observer could not speak to Kulata about the allegations after she failed to honour her promise to speak to us.
Whether she wins this battle and holds onto her office again or fails, one thing is clear; she leaves behind a registry in tatters and Ugandans’ trust in the lands ministry at its lowest.
Kulata, who is married to Dr David Basangwa, executive director of Butabika hospital, is a woman of faith whose WhatsApp status reads: “Trust and praise God always, everything will be okay.”
She will need her God to get her through her latest troubles and tribulations.
Paulo Kato Lubwama, the Lubaga South MP, could lose his seat after a political activist took him to court claiming he lacks the minimum academic qualifications to be a legislator.
Through the Center for Legal Aid (CLA), an organization that provides free legal services, Habib Buwembo, the activist, contends that Lubwama failed his O-level exams and was not awarded a Uneb certificate.
Therefore, he argues, the diploma in Music, Dance and Drama, that he obtained from Makerere University and which he used as a basis for nomination is null and void.
The case, which has both civil and criminal elements (uttering false documents), kicks off on October 31 at the High court, Kampala. On October 7, Uneb in a letter to CLA confirmed that the grades Lubwama obtained at O-level were not sufficient for him to be awarded a certificate.
“Whereas the interpretation of the results of Kato Paulo was not part of the request initially filed by Mr Habib Buwembo, we clarify that having obtained Result 7, the candidate did not qualify for the award of a certificate,” wrote Peter Anywar, an examinations officer, on behalf of the executive secretary of Uneb.
Lubwama sat his O-levels at Old Kampala Secondary School in 1988. According to his O-level results seen by The Observer, Lubwama, failed (got F9 in) English, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. He got passes in History, Commerce and credits in Political Education, Geography, and Christian Religious Education.Kato Lubwama signing his nomination papers last year
According to Uneb this level of performance earned him result 7. Only candidates whose results fall within division one to four qualify to be given certificate and therefore can proceed to A-level or do other certificate courses.
So far, there is no evidence that Lubwama proceeded to A-level or undertook any course that is equivalent to it. But there is proof that he obtained a diploma in MDD from Makerere University. At the time, for one to qualify to be accepted on the course, he or she had to present an original UCE or UACE (or equivalent) certificate.
One could also be admitted to the programme by sitting special entry examinations. These examinations specifically targeted practicing artistes but they required the person to be in possession of a UCE certificate or its equivalent. Lubwama, according to the documents, was admitted using this route in 1992.
In a letter to the academic registrar, Makerere University, Isaac Ssemakadde, the executive director of CLA contends that the university negligently admitted Lubwama to the diploma programme without ascertaining whether he has a UCE certificate and without doing any due diligence.
“We demand that you immediately place this complaint before the relevant authorities so that appropriate action can be taken, not only to cancel Kato Lubwama’s diploma…but also to prosecute him for a clear case of giving false information to the university at registration,” Ssemakadde’s letter, dated October 20, reads in part.
LUBWAMA SPEAKS OUT
Lubwama wondered why Buwembo is questioning his papers, insisting that he is qualified to be in parliament.
“Who is Buwembo to investigate my papers? I studied at Old Kampala; go and ask what I studied. I have OBs and OGs; ask them whether Kato Lubwama went to school or not. Buwembo wants to become popular by starting a war with a popular person like Kato Lubwama but I don’t have his time.” Lubwama said last week.
Buwembo and Lubwama first clashed after a group of the MP’s supporters, codenamed Solida, beat him up last month. They accused him of being behind a ploy to fail Lubwama politically. Solida is a youth group that mobilized support for Lubwama.
Lubwama said he condemns what the group did but does not have powers to contain it. He said his supporters have to defend him because he is their breadwinner.
“My supporters beat him seriously. He is so stupid, he goes around recruiting people. I don’t know whether to join ADF or what because he was not specific of what he wanted so they beat him seriously,” Lubwama said.
Lubwama’s political woes started when he fervently defended parliament’s move to give each MPs Shs 150 million to purchase a vehicle. At some point, the MP reasoned that even Shs 150 million was too little, proposing that the figure be revised to Shs 300 million.
“I did not come to parliament to suffer,” he once told inquisitive journalists.
Buwembo said it is such behavior that forced him to embark on a private investigation of Lubwama. That is when someone tipped him off that the MP’s academic standing was questionable.
When some of Lubwama’s supporters got wind of what Buwembo was doing, they descended on him.
“I was attacked by goons sent by Hon Kato Lubwama. I was rescued by Muslims of this area. We arrested two of the attackers and handed them and the vehicle in which they were traveling to Nateete police. To our surprise, Kato Lubwama the next day went to police and stood surety for the two guys,” Buwembo said.
After 14 years at the helm of the Electoral Commission, ENG. BADRU KIGGUNDU is retiring as chairman in November. In an interview with Baker Batte Lule, the outgoing chairman speaks about his long reign, its challenges and positives.
Your term as EC chairman ends on November 27, 2016. Take me back 14 years ago to the day you were first appointed. How did you feel?
I was surprised. I never expected I could ever be appointed. Second, I am one person who never turns down an appointment by higher authorities. Even when I was still at the university, I never turned down any opportunity to serve.
Were you known to President Museveni before the appointment?
Did you get to know how he came to appoint you?
That question should be directed to the appointing authority.
Looking back 14 years, what has been your biggest challenge?
This is a job where you continuously learn. It is a new field. It is a field, which has no traditional training institutions for one to learn how to manage elections or get a degree in election management.
Now there are some schools coming up with certificates but there are no graduate programmes on election management. You learn on the job, you learn by association, reading and attending workshops and so on.
So, it is an exciting undertaking, which is not by application. When we advertise, people do apply but there are no adverts for chairperson or commissioners of the electoral commission.
You have organised three general elections and one referendum. Is there an election you would say you don’t want to remember?
I wouldn’t say that because I take each milestone as a source of learning and predicting the future. As long as you do self-evaluation, from each of those milestones you pick potential shortfalls and how to overcome them in the next election. I cannot look back and say I wish that election was not held.
Which of the three general elections gave you the most headache?
Every event is an event [on] its own. The comfort I take is the bedrock of the legal framework in both the Constitution and the polling laws; reading and understanding the provisions of the constitution and the other enabling laws.
Two elections you organised, that of 2006 and 2016, were challenged in court, which concluded that they fell short of the minimum standards of being free and fair.
The judgment of free and fair is relative to everyone. I do respect the judges but someone may look at those elections and judge them differently.
So, which direction do you want me to go or what do you want me to say? As long as shortfalls are picked and in the next elections we find a way of overcoming them, [that is ok]. That is why I told you every event is a source of learning. There isn’t anywhere in the world where elections are perfect.
When you read the three judgments of 2001, 2006 and 2016 in the presidential election petitions, the recommendations are the same. But you are telling me you learnt from shortfalls in previous elections and subsequently improved. Did you really learn from those shortfalls?
Some things you talk about like bribery are not done by the commission. You cannot police everybody’s mind 24 hours. Bribery is not a wanted habit but you find it, anyway. What can the commission do?
The best we can do is voter education. We say please don’t accept to be bribed. But in practice does this mean that somebody cannot be bribed? The other issue is violence. There was a lot of violence in the 2001 elections and a full study on violence was carried out. But did this stop violence in 2006? Elections are the most complicated civil undertaking in any country. Running elections is not easy even in very developed countries.
People have called the 2016 elections a sham. They say it was the most fraudulent election in Uganda’s history. The EC is accused of deliberately working in favor of President Musveni to undermine his opponents. They cite the tactical delay in delivering electoral materials in the opposition strongholds.
I don’t think I have heard the word sham because that would be disastrous. Even the shirt you are putting on, if you ask three people, each will give it a different color.
I don’t think the 2016 elections were a sham. People are saying the delay in delivery of materials was extensive but this was at about 40 polling stations compared to the 28,000 polling stations across the country where all materials were delivered on time. So, the question of judgment is in the mind of each individual.
How do you explain the delivery of polling materials in say Kisoro [hundreds of miles away] on time and yet you couldn’t do the same for Namuwongo, which is a stone’s throw away from the EC headquarters? Was it incompetence on your part or a deliberate ploy because of the opposition’s perceived strength in those areas?
He who is not in the kitchen will not appreciate the adversity of the smoke that penetrates our mothers’ eyes. You have to get in the kitchen first.
I don’t think you want to mean that I deliberately delivered materials in Namuwongo late. That would be silly. Why are there exigencies in almost everything? If I look at the print media, they deliver newspapers of the next day in the evening but there are times when they fail, why? Me as a regular buyer of papers, I don’t ask why they came late.
But an election is an important issue and you don’t expect people not to ask questions, especially if there are some unexplainable delays like we saw in Kampala and Wakiso.
Let them ask, do they appreciate the response? If you have ill intentions, that is a different story. If you want to mudsling Kiggundu, the choice is yours. But Kiggundu will try to explain to you what happened. It is you to buy the story or not. If you don’t buy it and throw in your answers, what can I say?Badru Kiggundu in his office
What if your explanation is flawed, do we just take it?
It depends on you if you judge it as fraudulent. I explained because I am an insider and I know what happened. If you choose not to accept it, I leave you.
Does it bother you that every election cycle leads to a civil disobedience campaign like the walk-to-work of 2011 and now the defiance campaign?
But [the February] elections were not the mother of defiance. It was declared before the election cycle started. You ask those who are the engines of defiance.
Do you take responsibility when people are killed or get beaten and imprisoned in the current defiance campaign for resisting what they call fraudulent elections?
I am not responsible for people that get killed. I respect those who choose courts of law if they think something is wrong. But if you take the law in your hands, don’t blame me. Don’t blame me because you have no right to take the law in our hands.
Let’s go to court. That’s why they are there. When you take the law in your hands, be responsible for the outcome.
About 30 MPs have so far lost their seats in parliament and majority of them are from the ruling NRM. Isn’t this an indictment on both the presidential and parliamentary elections? That the elections were a sham?
I don’t control or mother petitions, say on the academic front. If the institution, which is established by law, certifies that Baker satisfactorily completed A-level, Badru will nominate you.
But somebody who knows you, who has been eating mangoes with you, may come up and say I have been eating mangoes with Baker, when did he ever go to school? So, it is not proper to ask Kiggundu why he cleared somebody who presented a certificate certified by an institution responsible for screening.
But there are many others who have lost seats due to the failure of the Electoral Commission to do what it was supposed to do.
No, you study your statistics, don’t be that conclusive. The way you are going, I think you have not done enough comparative analysis. Majority of those who have been thrown out are because of academics.
Take an example of Kyadondo East MP Apollo Kantinti. He did not lose his seat because of electoral fraud or lack of academic papers but because of failure by the EC to do its work as required by law. But even those who lost due to academic papers, the judges have faulted the EC in the same ruling.
What do you mean the EC has failed to do its work? What has the EC failed to do? Those who accuse us have not adequately studied the provisions of the law. If you are caught bribing, it is not the EC that has failed.
There is talk that some people in this commission wield more powers than you; that actually they interfere in the running of the elections hence making them not free and fair.
I don’t know where that logic comes from. I don’t see those breaks in the structural organisation of this commission. That someone has got more powers? It depends on what they mean by power. Each one of us has got different roles to play as defined by the constitution.
I am the head of policy; that is different from being the head of operations. Let’s understand the role each of us in the same organisation play. It is the first time I am hearing that someone has more powers. How do they judge that? That is out of the window as far as I am concerned.
What do you say to people who have lost hope in the electoral process because they believe it is skewed in favour of the appointing authority?
They have failed to do their part. There are some people who expect that I will give them votes. I don’t give or manufacture votes…. I am sorry that is not Kiggundu, they can wait for a subsequent commission but not in my era.
Therefore, one should acknowledge their own pitfalls and not throw the mud at the commission and particularly at Kiggundu. It is them to find out why they failed, not me. People forget that being in an election is like being in a football pitch and only one team will win.
You, who is of my son’s age, if you’re in the same class with the same professor, you may do better than my son, so what? People don’t understand that competitive politics is the same as a classroom or football pitch. If that sinks in their brains, then we will have a better Uganda.
As you end your term at the EC, you have been appointed to monitor the construction of hydropower dams. Is this some kind of soft landing or thank you for delivering victory to the appointing authority?
What do you mean soft landing? This was a welcome surprise and, as I said, I don’t turn down appointments by a higher authority. If I was chosen from among 34 million Ugandans, then the appointing authority must have realised I have potential to do the work I was appointed to do.
Currently, I have not yet known how that new field works. I am still studying it so I don’t want to say much until I have understood properly how it works, especially its information sharing policy.
Frank Gashumba, a social and political critic, has given Speaker Rebecca Kadaga a two-week ultimatum to apologize for referring to him as a Rwandese or be dragged to court.
Gashumba’s threat stems from a story published by The Observer last month in which Kadaga was quoted as saying that Uganda was a tolerant country; that is why the likes of Gashumba, a Rwandese, can abuse Ugandans (See; Kadaga: defeated Oulanyah fighting me but he can’t win, The Observer September 28).
According to the story, Kadaga said on a radio talk show: “Uganda is really a lenient country; how can Gashumba, a Rwandese, abuse us in Uganda? He can’t do this in Rwanda; I even don’t know his work.”
Gashumba had earlier told The Observer that instead of throwing blue and yellow-painted piglets at parliament as the protesting Jobless Brotherhood did, he would have opted for hyenas. Hyenas are famed scavengers and often dine on the leftovers of other predators.
Gashumba through his lawyers Okecha, Baranyanga & Co Advocates has written to Kadaga demanding an apology, failure of which she will be dragged to court.
“Your utterances have occasioned great pain, and anguish to our client. Our client’s esteem amongst his peers has greatly diminished as he is now seen as a person who has no locus standi to contribute in any way in the affairs of our great nation,” says a letter to Kadaga dated October 6.
The lawyers contend that Kadaga’s utterances were not only “divisive, hateful, inciting, stigmatic but also demeaning in nature.”
They further argue that the utterances were unconstitutional and, therefore, their client can seek redress from the courts of law in form of a declaration and award of damages.
“We are, therefore, instructed to demand that you publicly and through the same media channels on which you uttered the recorded references apologize to our client within 14 days from the date of receipt hereof, failing upon which we have instructions to drag you to courts of law and demand for compensation for damage occasioned at your cost,” the letter delivered to Kadaga on October 12 reads.
The lawyers reminded Kadaga that the position she holds in the administrative hierarchy of Uganda requires of her to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of every individual.
The Observer’s efforts to contact Kadaga bore no fruits as she was not picking her mobile phone numbers called. On his part, Gashumba told us last week that he will pursue the case to its logical conclusion.
“This is not the first time for Kadaga to ignore issues and go tribal. I remember last year she complained that Amama Mbabazi [former prime minister] had funded a lady from western Uganda to compete with her in Kamuli district. She asked, ‘will westerners determine Busoga issues for us?’ For Kadaga to call me a Rwandese is a big thing,” Gashumba said.
When The Observer asked Gashumba to explain his origin, he traced it from 1923 when his grandparents came to Uganda from Rwanda as casual workers.
“My grandfather Farazio Malingumu went for the second world war and died in it. My father Antonio Gashumba was born in Masaka district and joined DP before defecting to NRM. My grandmother Iranda Nsanga Safari advised me to always be loyal to Buganda kingdom because it hosted us; that is why my royalty to his Highness the Kabaka is not debatable. My father went to Rome using a Ugandan passport and I also hold one too,” Gashumba said.
When we asked what exactly he does, Gashumba said that apart from his known Sisimuka Uganda, he is also the chairman of Mali group of companies, named after his grandfather Malingumu.
Last week, Kadaga failed to pick our repeated calls but Chris Obore, the director of communications and public affairs at parliament advised Gashumba to first seek an audience with the speaker before rushing to courts.
“The speaker will make a decision on Gashumba’s notice because she is a lawyer herself by training and practice. Obore is an Itesot; if I say Siraje is a Muganda can’t you be proud of your nationality? If you say Kadaga is a Musoga, can she be offended? Uganda has a tribe called Rwanda and Gashumba is a bonafide Ugandan of Rwandese origin. How does that become an offence?” Obore asked.
He said that by Kadaga saying Uganda is lenient, she was correct because it has even won global acclaim for accommodating refugees from neighbouring countries.
“Rushing to court may not help him because the law alone does not solve the problem. Let him pick a call and ask to meet the speaker or come to me. I will fix an appointment for him with her. If she said so, she is better positioned to explain the context she meant. But going straight to court means Gashumba already has bad blood with her,” Obore said.
When The Observer talked to prominent city lawyer Andrew Kasirye last week, he said as long as Kadaga uttered the said words outside parliament, she can’t be protected under the cover of parliamentary immunity.
“Whether Gashumba is a non- Uganda or not, it doesn’t matter; she has no right to defame him but to address the issues raised if need be. The law does not discriminate. Our constitution protects Ugandans including [non-Ugandan] residents. Her immunity stops in parliament and once she is out, the immunity can’t be absolute,” Kasirye said.