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Cost of containing Besigye escalates

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 14:04

The cost of maintaining a constant grip on Kizza Besigye, the former FDC presidential candidate whose “defiance” campaign the state looks determined to contain, is having its toll on the police’s financial and other resources.

The latest departure of Col (rtd) Besigye, who left the country for the second time in one month on Monday, must have come as a relief to the police administration, which is experiencing a shortage of essentials such as fuel, a big chunk of which goes to operations linked to Besigye.

Indeed, less than 12 hours after he exited through Entebbe International airport, the tight security that had become a permanent fixture at his home in Kasangati and key road junctions in Kampala since October 3 was relaxed.

On October 3, Besigye was picked up by security officers as he disembarked from a Kenya Airways flight and whisked off to his home to prevent him from linking up with his supporters waiting along Entebbe road. That day marked the end of a one-month break from the routine of the police keeping an eye on Besigye and his supporters.

Police surround Dr Kizza Besigye's vehicle 

The former FDC leader had spent the month touring the US and Europe. During the one-month break, the police relaxed and could even afford to relocate from Kampala their crowd and riot control unit, the Field Force Unit.

However, with Besigye’s return on October 3, men, equipment and money were mobilized again to contain the fiery politician whose “defiance” campaign is seen as a veiled attempt to overthrow the government through mass protests.

According to our source within the police, some of the activities that had already been scheduled were halted because resources had to be channeled towards keeping Besigye and his supporters in the city in check.

“When Dr Besigye was away, the force had been spending little in Kampala because few activities were carried out, but in the few days he has been in Kampala, a lot of resources have been used to control him,” the source said.

FUEL SHORTAGE

It is perhaps no coincidence that The Daily Monitor reported on Monday that the police were experiencing a serious fuel shortage and quoted police chief Gen Kale Kayihura as advising his commanders to seek fuel from local communities.

According to the report, two major fuel suppliers stopped supplying because of accumulated arrears amounting to Shs 98 billion. Kayihura was also quoted
as saying that the police budget had been reduced by 15 percent, with the fuel budget in particular being slashed by 50 percent. After wages and food, fuel is the third biggest item on the police recurrent budget, according to Daily Monitor.

With Besigye now returning abroad, even if for a short while, the police can breathe a sigh of relief as Kampala returns to the pre-October 3 state in terms of police activity.

When we visited Besigye’s home at Kasangati on Tuesday, there was no single policeman in sight. The usually-heavily- guarded place was deserted. At Kalerwe roundabout, which leads to Kasangati, the usual police presence complete with a Mamba (battle vehicle) was now conspicuously missing. The road to Gayaza was also free of the usual police presence whenever Besigye is around.

When this writer knocked at Besigye’s gate, he was able to talk to people in the home unlike previous occasions when visitors were checked and registered or sent away.

The neighborhood, which is always under police siege when Besigye is here, with uniformed and plain clothes policemen camping in tents inside and outside his gate, had no trace of any of this on Tuesday.

1,000 LITRES

The Observer has been told by sources within the police that monitoring Besigye’s every move comes at a big cost. For instance, the police reportedly use more than 1,000 litres of fuel in that operation daily.

“There are six standby big vehicles commonly known as Mambas, which are stationed in different parts of Kampala to be deployed in case Besigye causes chaos in the city and suburbs,” the source said, adding that each Mamba consumes between 150 and 200 liters daily.

Two Mambas, according to the source, are parked at the Kalerwe roundabout, two at Central police station (CPS) and two at the Jinja road traffic lights.
In addition, the police allocates more than 10 patrol trucks to follow Besigye in case he refuses to follow a designated route.

“Every police station in Kampala Metropolitan has two standby patrols to carry personnel to follow Besigye and each patrol is given 40 liters daily,” the source revealed.

Besides, there are more than 50 motorcycles, which patrol the city and its suburbs daily, and each is allocated 10 to 15 liters daily. If the police spend 1,000 liters per day, it is estimated that in a month Shs 87m goes to fuel alone, according to our source.

Fuel aside, about Shs 2m is spent every day on gathering intelligence on Besigye and other top FDC and opposition leaders. Both civilians and security officers in uniform and plain clothes are deployed to monitor Besigye’s movements, and these are entitled to a daily stipend, another source told us.

Up to 500 intelligence officers are deployed in Kampala Metropolitan and each is paid between Shs 5,000 and Shs 20,000 daily, the source added.

“If Besigye moves daily for 30 days, the force spends more than Shs 70m on intelligence alone,” the source said.

POLICE SPEAKS

Interviewed recently, Emilian Kayima, the Kampala Metropolitan police spokesman, acknowledged the challenge involved in keeping Besigye in check. He, however, added that the police are left with no option as they have to protect people and their property.

Kayima also clarified that it’s not just Besigye but, rather, any kind of disturbance in Kampala necessarily causes the police’s operational costs to soar.

“It is not that police resources increase on Besigye only but on any other emergency that occurs in Kampala,” Kayima said.

While the police have to sleep with one eye open whenever Besigye is on his defiance mission, our sources indicate that many officers relish the operations because they come with added allowances.

johnsonkagame@gmail.com

Travellers eating baboon meat on the Gulu highway

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 13:30
A baboon in Murchison Falls National Park

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has warned there is a high chance travelers that enjoy roadside mchomo (roast meat) could be munching on baboon meat.

Andrew Sseguya, the UWA executive director, said baboon meat is sold as illegal bush meat at Kafu along the Kampala-Gulu highway.

“We have arrested a number of people from Kafu selling baboon meat as kob meat,” Sseguya told journalists at the UWA headquarters at Kitante, Kampala.
“Many of the people that sell game meat are selling to you baboons meat or that of dead calves, according to tests we have so far carried out. This should be a warning to Ugandans; you are eating things that you don’t understand...” Sseguya added.

According to the US Centre for Diseases Control (CDC), consumption of meat from baboons and other primates such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees can lead to contraction of viruses such as the deadly Ebola.

It also links Ebola infections in people to handling and eating infected animals. In 2012, CDC also identified evidence of viruses such as simian foamy virus in illegally- imported wildlife products impounded at several US airports.

This probably explains why in some Central and West African countries where bush meat stalls are common, incidents of Ebola outbreaks are rampant. In Cameroon, where 80 per cent of the meat eaten is bush meat, scientists are tracking an HIV/Aids-like virus called Simian foamy virus (SFV), which they fear could get into humans and cause a global health crisis.

IMPACT

Dr Asuman Lukwago, the permanent secretary of the ministry of Health, told The Observer on Tuesday that the ministry has during several inter-departmental meetings warned about the dangers associated with the increasing consumption of game meat.

“Diseases like Marburg and Ebola are from apes...if they [baboons] are diseased, they can be a source of a serious epidemic,” Lukwago said.

Since the ministry of Health has no enforcement arm, Lukwago said, they are looking at UWA to enforce the ban on sale of game meat. Sseguya did not give details of how many people had been arrested. Working with partners, Sseguya said, UWA is in the process of setting up a multimillion shilling forensic laboratory to test the bush meats on the market.

“Right now, I don’t have the figures yet because we are still taking quotations [from suppliers] but I can confirm that it is going to cost us a lot of money because the protection of Ugandans is more important,” Sseguya said.

Meanwhile, Sseguya refuted a New Vision report on Monday, which implicated UWA rangers in killings of people in the Murchison Falls national park.

“On August 23, [UWA] rangers were on routine patrol [when] they encountered and exchanged fire with a group of armed men suspected to be poachers,” Sseguya said.

While the New Vision report mentioned seven fatalities, Sseguya said, two men; Samuel Baguma and Alex Bagira were killed during the shootout and a gun UG24581999 was recovered from them and handed to the police in Buliisa district.

“We carry guns for the protection of the animals and ourselves... we don’t kill people in the national parks by mistake because it is illegal to enter a national park with a firearm,” Sseguya said.

He said through such exchanges of fire with suspected poachers, UWA has so far lost about 50 rangers.

sadabkk@observer.ug

How Observer got ransacked

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 13:16

It was a dull, wet Sunday morning. Time check: 8.00am.

As John Bosco Asiimwe, a day time guard at The Observer approached the company premises on Tagore Crescent, Kamwokya, he noticed something was amiss.

“From a distance, I noticed that the main door was open. Since I am the only person tasked with opening the office and keeping the keys, I knew there was trouble,” said Asiimwe, who is popularly known as JB.

On the fateful day, he paused and hesitated to approach the gate, overtaken by fear.Later, after he gathered some courage, he walked slowly to the gate and knocked twice.There was no response. Then through the bars of the gate, he saw a broken padlock.

Two things, he said, came to his mind. First, he said, he thought that the night guard had broken into the offices, stolen equipment and taken off. Second, he suspected that the guard had been killed by thugs and dumped somewhere on the premises.

“I gathered courage and opened the gate. I climbed the steps to the front door and entered the building. When I reached the graphics department of the newsroom, I noticed that all the computers had been taken. I was shivering. So I ran back outside,” he said.

Once outside the building, he noticed that something in the compound that looked like a gun hidden under a heap of cardboards near the generator. Moving closer, it was a gun.

Pius Katunzi (L) and Richard Kavuma in shock on seeing the newsroom without computers

At this point, JB reported the matter to the police at Kira Road Police station and recorded a statement. He also telephoned senior managers and directors and informed them about the break-in. Later the police arrived and sealed off the place as they commenced investigations.

While investigations are still on-going, Charles Olupot, the guard on duty, remains the prime suspect and he’s on the run. It is suspected that Olupot, who is attached to Delta Force Protection Limited, connived with the thugs and later abandoned his gun in the compound.

Secondly on Saturday, Olupot did not sign in the office register at The Observer yet before he set off for duty, he signed at Delta. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Investigations so far indicate that once inside, the thugs started lifting desktop computers, taking the monitors and the CPUs. They did not bother to take the cables and keyboards. They took all the desktop computers in the newsroom save for three.

It is also probable that they had a getaway vehicle in which they carried their loot. According to Jackie Kamya, the personnel and administration manager at The Observer, at least 15 desk-top computers and six laptops were taken. Besides the thefts, the thugs vandalized office furniture as they rummaged through drawers and cupboards.

“We are still assessing the damage,” Kamya said.

Michael Okello, a scene-of-crime officer attached to Kira Road police station, said that preliminary investigations reveal that the thugs did not meet any resistance as they entered the premises. Yesterday, the finger prints of staff at Observer were taken as part of the probe.

Edigu Silver, the operations manager at Delta Force Protection Limited, said they were working closely with the police to have the matter resolved.

“The guard acted unlawfully…which is contrary to the employment agreement he signed with Delta Force Protection Limited. We are cooperating with the police to ensure that the guard is arrested in order to help us in the investigation,” read part of Edigu’s letter to Kamya, dated October 18.

NOT UNUSUAL

Over the last couple of years, office break-ins have become rampant, particularly targeting civil society organisations and the media. Last year, unknown people broke into offices of Galaxy FM, Kansanga and made off with office equipment.

Yet in virtually all the cases, the culprits have not been apprehended creating unease and a sense of hopelessness. In June this year, 31 civil society organizations whose offices have been broken into, some more than twice, wrote to the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, expressing concern that their cases had not been conclusively handled.

“Private security guards have been killed in the course of two break-ins, registered in July 2015 and May 2016. Documents, electronic data and other confidential and sensitive information have been stolen in many cases, and indeed, appears to have been the objective in cases where expensive technology was left untouched,” reads part of the letter dated June 13, 2016.

ekiggundu@observer.ug

Muslim clerics’ murders: medical clerk pins Kamoga

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 13:06
Sheikh Yunus Kamoga

The trial of 14 suspects accused of killing Muslim clerics between 2014 and 2015 kicked off yesterday with a prosecution witness, a medical billing clerk, telling the International Crimes division (ICD) of High court that a dying Sheikh Mustafah Bahiga refused treatment.

The trial is presided over by justices: Ezekiel Muhanguzi, Percy Tuhaise and Jane Kiggundu. The clerk worked at Namulundu medical centre at Bwebajja on Entebbe road, where Bahiga was rushed for first aid treatment on the evening of December 28, 2014. 

Upon arrival at the clinic, she said, Bahiga rejected treatment because he claimed he was going to die with or without medication. “He [Bahiga] pulled the cannula out of his body,” she said, adding, “And he [Bahiga] said don’t make me go through this pain because I know I’m going to die….”

The witness said Bahiga, in his dying declaration, said in Luganda: “Kamoga bwotyo bwosazewo. Kale kanfirire ediini yange. [Kamoga this is your decision, okay, let me die for my religion.]

Prodded further, the witness said Bahiga was referring to Sheikh Yunus Kamoga, the leader of the Tabliq sect. This testimony corroborates the director of public prosecution’s (DPP) narrative that when Bahiga was shot, good Samaritans who rushed to the scene heard Bahiga say, “Kamoga anzise.” [Kamoga has killed me.]

Besides Kamoga, the other suspects on trial include Siraji Kawooya, Murta Mudde Bukenya and Fahad Kalungi. Others are Amir Kinene, Hakim Abdulsalam alias Kassim Mulumba, Abdulhamid Sematimba Mubiru, Hamza Kasirye, Twaha Sekitto, Rashid Jingo, Musa Issa Mubiru and George William Iga.

The accused are also charged with murdering Sheikh Hassan Kirya and further face charges of attempted murder on Prince Kassim Nakibinge, the titular head of the Muslim community in Uganda, Sheikh Haruna Jemba, Najib Ssonko and Mahmood Kibaate.

The witness further told court that as Bahiga was being transferred to a bigger hospital in an ambulance, he repeated the same statements. “He rejected the drip,” she said, “Then he said: “this is what you have decided Kamoga, okay let me die for the religion.” 

As he was driven along Entebbe road, the clerk led by Principal State Attorney Lino Anguzu, said Bahiga died. “The doctor had warned that he [Bahiga] would be lucky if he arrives at the hospital,” she testified.

“Soon after, we got a phone call from the ambulance driver informing us that the man was dead and that they had parked near Freedom City.”

Much as she had known Bahiga for a long time because he always accompanied his diabetic mother to the medical centre, she said she couldn’t recognize the bloodied sheikh on the fateful evening. “He was oozing with blood from his back,” she said.

“So, I couldn’t know if he was the one but I came to know that he was Bahiga the following day when I read the newspapers.”

CROSS-EXAMINATION

Fred Muwema, the lead defence lawyer, said Bahiga’s dying declaration was “vague.”

Muwema said the mere mention of Kamoga without his first name means Bahiga wasn’t clear.

“I didn’t know what he meant but all I know he mentioned that name Kamoga several times,” the clerk answered.

dkiyonga@observer.ug

Clerics murders: How the state intends to pin the accused

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 12:57

The trial of the 14 suspects behind last year’s murder of Muslim clerics kicked off yesterday in the International Criminal division of High court.

The suspects are accused of terrorism, murder and attempted murder to which all the accused pleaded not guilty. They are, among other things, accused of killing a string of sheikhs in Kampala and elsewhere in 2014 and 2015.

The defence team includes MacDosman Kabega, Fred Muwema, Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi and Twaha Mayanja. So, this is how the state intends to pin them.
According to the summary evidence presented before the High court at Nakawa, the murdered Muslim clerics and those threatened with murder were referred to as “snakes suitable for elimination” by their killers or tormentors.

Defence lawyer Twaha Mayanja talks to one of the suspects

The suspects include Nakasero-based Amir, Sheikhs Mohammad Yunus Kamoga and Siraje Kawooya, referred to in the summary evidence as the ringleaders of the killings.

The other accused  persons are Sheikh Murta Mudde Bukenya, Sheikh Fahd Kalungi, Amir Kinene, Hakim Kinene Muswaswa, Yusuf Kakande alias Abdullah and Abdulsalaam Sekayanja alias Khasim Mulumba. Others are Abdulamid Sematimba Mubiru, Hamza Kasirye, Twaha Sekkito, Rashid Jingo, Musa Isa Mubiru and George William Iga.

THE CASE

Prosecution will attempt to show that some of the accused persons shot and killed Sheikh Mustafah Bahiga at Bwebajja mosque where he had gone for Isha prayers with his three sons. According to prosecution, Bahiga’s dying declaration that, “Kamoga has killed me,” was quite telling.

Prosecution avers that it is in possession of used bullets picked by police from the murder scene. Bahiga was a preacher and leader of the William Street mosque. The mosque was locked in fights, pitting one clique led by Kamoga, and another by Kawooya.

Prosecution alleges that many of the accused recruited former combatants of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), using Nakasero and William Street mosques as sanctuaries. ADF is designated as a terrorist organization under the Anti-terrorism Act.

SNAKES NAMED

According to prosecution, the ‘murder clique’ referred to the victims as “snakes.”

“As the wrangles escalated, fliers were printed and circulated in the two mosques warning the Muslim faithful to shun and avoid the snakes. The first set of fliers had the names and photographs of three individuals, Sheikh Hassan Kirya, Najib Ssonko and Bahiga. These fliers were being distributed by Yusuf Kalanda, [Accused No. 17],” the summary evidence says.

Prosecution contends that shortly thereafter, a second set of fliers containing derogatory messages and hate speech against Ssonko, Bahiga and Umar Swadiq were printed and distributed under the watch and direction of Kawooya (Accused No.1) to other places.

Relatives and friends of the accused wave at the prisons bus as it leaves the High court

The state claims that this campaign was followed by radical preaching in mosques by Kamoga, inciting fellow Muslims to do something about “the snakes.” It is alleged that Kamoga was this time round distributing the flies together with Kawooya.

Prosecution claims it has witnesses who will testify that at this stage, the accused persons started organizing meetings in several places like William street and Nakasero mosques, at the residence of Fahd Kalungi (Accused No.4) along Entebbe road and Kawooya’s home in Gayaza to find ways of eliminating “the snakes”.

Evidence further shows that after the death of Bahiga, a third set of fliers was printed and distributed in the same mosques. The fliers this time omitted Bahiga’s name and instead replaced it with Prince Kassim Nakibinge. On January 2, 2015, four days after Bahiga’s murder, Jemba was attacked at his Matugga residence by gun-wielding assailants. His police guards returned fire and the attackers fled.

Kirya was murdered on June 30, 2015 at 10pm by assailants on a motorcycle as he stopped to purchase fruits from a road side stall at Bweyogerere trading centre.

The police arrested several suspects and recovered DVDs and mobile phones, which were later analyzed. Police recovered some of the offending fliers from Rashid Jingo (A12) and Twaha Sekitto (A11). It also recovered Call Data Records indicating that Amir Kinene (A5) was trailing Bahiga on December 28, 2014.

Investigations also reveal that Amir Kinene, Hakim Kinene Muswaswa (A6) and others rented a house in Mafubira village in Jinja on December 27, 2014 and Amir Kinene fled Kampala on December 28 immediately after Bahiga’s murder and took refuge in this house.

The police investigation led to the arrest of Iga who allegedly admitted in the charge and caution statement that he participated in trailing Kirya with a view of eliminating him. His mobile phone allegedly contained photographs of Kirya’s home.

Prosecution shall contend that the death of the two Sheikhs and the attack on Jemba was all part of a grand criminal conspiracy orchestrated by the accused persons masterminded by Kamoga and Kawooya.

It shall further contend that the accused persons had a common intention to commit the offences and are, therefore, criminally and jointly responsible under the doctrine of common intention.

slubwama@observer.ug

Editors snub MPs’ summons again

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 12:49
Editors of The Observer, URN & Red pepper did not show up

Editors of The Observer, Red Pepper and Uganda Radio Network (URN) have for the second time snubbed summons by legislators to appear before a Parliamentary committee investigating the perceived negative coverage of the House.

Parliament’s committee on rules, privileges and discipline summoned editors from the three media houses to appear before them yesterday [Tuesday] but MPs waited in vain. Instead, all they got was a letter from the lead counsel for URN, Ladislaus Kiiza Rwakafuuzi, who stated that his advice to his clients is not to honour the committee’s summons.

“The functions of Parliament are spelt out in Article 79(1) and (3) of the constitution. Committees of Parliament are supposed to act in furtherance of these functions and nothing else. Superintending [over the] editorials of media houses is not related to the functions of Parliament,” reads Rwakafuuzi’s letter to the committee, dated October 12, 2016.

Secondly, Rwakafuuzi added, Parliament has already made laws relating to management of media houses, which include sections on disciplining those who err. “Ipso facto, parliament has no further role to play,” the lawyer concluded.

Committee chairman Clement Ongalo Obote said Red Pepper and The Observer did not send any communication regarding the summons to the committee.

However, The Observer news editor’s lawyer, Isaac Ssemakadde, had earlier written to the committee explaining why the editors would not honour parliament’s summons.

MORE SUMMONSES

Shortly after the MPs’ meeting, Ongalo Obote told journalists that the committee had resolved to summon the editors for a third time on October 27, 2016 before writing a report to be presented to the House.

“We summoned them last week but we only received communication from Uganda Radio Network saying they were not coming. This is not from the members of the committee but we have a directive from the House.  

We are going to summon The Observer, URN and Red Pepper for the third time to meet with us next Wednesday. If they don’t come, then we shall proceed to write a report and present it to the House with our recommendations,” said Ongalo.

On October 5, 2016, when the editors of The Observer, URN and Red Pepper were due to appear before the committee for the first time, they did not appear. Only The New Vision, represented by the editor-in-chief, Barbara Kaija, honoured the summons. She was accompanied by John Kakande, the editor-in-charge of New Vision and the company legal officer Tonny Raymond Kirabira.

The summonses are the result of complaints by Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and some MPs who were irked by media coverage of certain issues relating to parliament.

Notable among the issues was the Shs 150m car grant, a planned expenditure of Shs 68m as burial expenses per legislator, and the trip by both speakers and several legislators to the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) convention in Boston, Massachusetts, and Los Angeles, California.

newseditor@observer.ug

Nambooze: I regret the exchange with Kasibante

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 12:47
Betty Nambooze

Betty Nambooze, the Mukono municipality MP, has been busy working on her private member's bill that seeks to restrict alcohol consumption.

But the bill has already cost her one of her friends in politics, Moses Kasibante, the Lubaga North MP. The two traded barbs when Nambooze tried and failed to introduce the bill on the floor of parliament earlier this month. In an interview with Baker Batte Lule, Nambooze addresses her public fallout with Kasibante and the tenets of her bill, among other things.

You have come up with a private member’s bill on alcohol. What are the highlights of the bill?

First of all, we want to codify all the laws relating to alcohol as far as possible, then update them emphasizing more on manufacturing, selling and advertisement of alcohol after discovering that 89 per cent of the alcohol consumed by our people is unregulated. Some of this alcohol, which is even poisonous, is made in makeshift laboratories by people whose motive is to make money.

We also want to emphasize rehabilitation other than punishing consumers who become victims of alcoholism. We also want the regulation of alcohol to be moved from the ministry of Trade to that of Health so that it is not just any trading law but a public health law. This is being done after realizing that Uganda has the second-youngest population in the world.

However, it also has the second highest record of taking alcohol on the continent. This means that alcohol is being taken by our young people. Therefore, it becomes irresponsible for any leader to continue pursuing the line that this is what people want. For me, I was voted to be a leader in this country; let me make a contribution in guiding society. You should also remember that laws are not made for good people but for bad ones. I also take alcohol but we want it risk-free.

Some of these issues you are talking about have been here for ages; why bring the bill now?

This is the time I have to make a contribution to this country. I have no other time to write a law. I’m a third-termer in parliament. I have gathered enough experience to come up with a private member’s bill. Two, I don’t know how much time I have in parliament or in this world. You just have to walk in our towns and villages and see the problem.

What politicians are doing is only to facilitate this vice. When they go to villages the first hand that reaches out to them begs for Shs 500. This money is to buy a sachet of waragi but this is abdication of our roles as leaders if we give Shs 500, to people to buy poison.

If somebody can get drunk on only Shs 500 this means alcohol must have a problem. It is in Uganda [where] it is cheaper to drink alcohol than water. The most important thing that people should note is that I’m not encumbered to do other things. I can carry on this debate while doing other things. We as politicians should use some of the influence we have gathered along the way to talk to people about the vices that have bedeviled our society.
If I don’t use the influence I have now, people will stop listening to what I say.

There are other pertinent issues affecting society like the minimum wage for workers. Why don’t you take up such challenges?

First of all, people should realize that we are 435 MPs. If every MP brings a bill, that will be 435 bills. So, it is not that Nambooze should do everything. What I have not done, other colleagues should do. However, it is also not true that I have not done anything about the minimum wage.

In the last parliament, Hon Eddy Kwizera and I as his seconder moved a motion urging government to set up a salary commissions board to determine the salaries of all government workers including MPs. When we went to parliament, we were not even allowed to read the motion; members threw it out.
I also have another bill that seeks to regulate immigrant workers in Uganda. So, it is not true that I have gone for this only one thing.

The bill has brought out the other side of you that doesn’t tolerate divergent views. When your once good friend Moses Kasibante opposed the bill on the floor of parliament, you made uncharitable comments about him, referring to him as a drunkard who sleeps in bars and you regretted the role you played in his election.

I regret the exchange between me and Hon Kasibante. But you should know the background. For the last five years I have shared an office with Hon Kasibante. We even share a research assistant. We basically share everything and when I’m going to do something, he gets to know about it.

We have also been friends for very many years so when I was working on this bill he was aware of what I was doing and we discussed in detail. Even on that day when I moved a motion to seek leave of parliament to present the bill, he sat behind me and constantly reminded me to bring the motion in time so he can support me before he leaves for a programme on CBS radio. I took him for his word.

When I moved the motion, he rose on a point of procedure and said I should not be heard. I find this level of dishonesty so disturbing from a friend we share an office. He had all the time to raise this matter with me. He even hurt me more by saying that my intention was to see people die. He accused me of authoring a bill that will cause death yet my intention is to save life.

That was very unkind of him to put that on the record of the Hansard. Two, by raising a procedural matter that I should not be heard was also extremely hard for me to take. The only opportunity I have as an opposition politician is that platform in parliament. Those remarks tickled me the wrong way.

But I also appreciate that Kasibante has a right to his opinion and in a democracy there is no problem with that. However, I want to tell you that he is only opposed to one clause in the bill. He should first educate himself about the entire bill, which has 110 clauses.

He only talks about that one clause that regulates time. I don’t think Kasibante is opposed to regulating alcohol from being accessed by minors, or to pressure government to set up rehabilitation centers for people who might become victims of alcoholism.

It is quite unfair for him to seek to throw out a bill because of one clause. I also don’t think that my brother is right to come to the conclusion that President Museveni has given people freedom by drinking alcohol at any time and in whatever quantity. What Museveni is doing by not regulating alcohol and betting is handing our youth a tool of self-destruction as long as they don’t disturb him politically.

I’m a student of development studies and democracy; what Museveni is doing is called democratic dictatorship. Under this arrangement, leaders will be very strict with anybody trying to throw them out of power and they will bring very strict laws in that direction. In exchange, they will leave the citizens to do all other self-destructive things in the name of freedom. Uganda is the only country in the world with an unregulated betting industry.

Why do you think Museveni is giving Ugandans freedom in only those areas?

This non-regulation of alcohol is also a political tool to dominate us and I know Museveni will be opposed to this law. Let people like Kasibante not be fooled that we have anything to lose as opposition or as Ugandans if we guide our youths on how they should drink alcohol risk-free. I’m not advocating a ban on the consumption of alcohol because I also drink but I want to guide our people on how they should consume this alcohol.

Have you talked to Kasibante about these issues since the exchange?

Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to meet but I’m also giving him time. I also think this matter has been blown out of proportion by the media. So, I don’t want to play into your hands. Sometimes I read things attributed to Kasibante and I know he hasn’t said them.

The media have jumped on this, seeing two great friends clashing over a bill yet both of them drink alcohol. This has the likelihood of diverting debate. It has nothing to do with me and Kasibante.

If the bill is passed, will implementation be possible?

President Museveni is not going to be here forever. The law in place now was written in 1964. That means we write laws for posterity. It might not be implemented today but when we get good leaders, they will have where to start. Let’s have the law and then we can talk about the implementation.

Does the law enjoy support from MPs?

The law is quite popular among female MPs and some male colleagues only that politicians are being held at ransom these days. There hasn’t been a time in history when it is so difficult to be an MP like it is today. Everybody wants to hold you at ransom; the voters and those we are struggling against.

If I’m opposition, every time I open my mouth, I’m expected to speak about my great support for Col Kizza Besigye and my hatred for Museveni. And the reverse is true for NRM MPs. We kindly beg our people to let us lead them because that’s why they voted for us.

Some people these days have given up because whatever you do, you are accused of having been influenced by such and such forces. Even things we do in good faith like this particular bill. You will hear people coming up with all sorts of conspiracy theories.

Some say you want alcohol companies to ‘talk’ to you.

You see mafias have used this situation to confuse parliament; now it can’t do anything because any parliamentarian who comes up with anything, people will seek to blackmail him/her.

It’s just a few months into the 10th parliament but we have now two private member’s bills and others are coming up. Is this confirmation that government is not doing its work?

Yes, government is not doing its work. For 30 years, President Museveni has not been able to regulate alcohol. When I raised this private member’s bill, the executive came to parliament and said they were also thinking about a similar bill.

So, they asked to sit with me to harmonize our position because they know what it means to give an opposition permission to table a bill and then traverse the whole country in the name of collecting views on the bill. If you grant me permission to collect views on alcohol, I will use the same opportunity to reach out to people.

Bottom line is Museveni has failed in providing leadership to this country. That’s why people want me to bring a bill for the procurement of a cancer machine. Recently a story was carried in your paper that NRM MPs were stopped from coming up with private member’s bills. Even people in NRM are seeing all these problems in the country.

Have you received your Shs 100m for your car deal?

Is it a deal?

Give it a name you want.

I have never considered my privileges as a member of parliament as deals. Since I joined parliament, each term I’m given some money to buy a car. The first time I entered parliament, I was given Shs 65m to buy a car and I indeed bought it.

The second time I was given Shs 103m, I split the money into two; bought an ambulance for my constituency and also bought myself a car. When I was campaigning in the last election, people knew that I was going to be given a car. We agreed that I will buy another ambulance because the one we have is very busy. On average it takes five patients to Mulago hospital a day; this is too much for the driver. 

Is buying an ambulance for the constituency your role as an MP?

It wouldn’t have been my role but we are driven to that point of despair because of poor prioritization by government. The problem is that we have given up our powers of appropriation as parliament.

If we were doing our work as parliament, we would have got solutions for those problems long ago. The office of an MP has become another institution. You have to deal with so many problems.

When you are looking for votes, you tell people you can sort out virtually all their problems. Why are you complaining now?

Perception is the biggest tool that governs society. If you say people, I’m going to parliament to write laws and make policy, they will not listen. People believe and demand, as a matter of right, that MPs do those functions.

Have you received your Shs 100 million advance payment for your car?

I have seen in the newspapers that we have been given money but for me whenever Centenary bank receives money on my behalf, I get an alert on my phone.

I haven’t received that message. But you know parliament has been demonized intentionally or otherwise by the media. If you receive money, it is an offence; if you say you have not yet received the money, it is also an offense.

Opposition MPs accuse President Museveni of wasteful expenditure but when it comes to their emoluments, there is union of purpose with the NRM. We have had opposition MPs who say Shs 200 million for cars is nothing. How are you different from NRM?

What do you think is the reason behind the splitting of my money to buy an ambulance for my people? In the last parliament when this issue came up I opposed it. At times as a person you get annoyed because even the journalists pushing against it are not doing so out of realization that we don’t need to be this wasteful.

It is out of envy that a journalist opposes Nambooze getting Shs 200 million because this journalist who is telling me not to take that money is waiting for me at the steps of parliament to give him/her some money. If you don’t give the money, he will not give you coverage. We are all corrupt.

You can’t remain true to the cause when you are not ready to make sacrifices. I would like to be part of this debate and I’m against this Shs 200m but why I’m not joining the debate is that everybody is doing it so dishonestly. Look at these people in civil society and the cars they are driving.

They are bigger than what we would buy with Shs 200m. We cannot be in a country where everybody is preaching responsibility but that responsibility cannot be executed by themselves but other people.

There was talk that you were interested in leading the Buganda caucus, what stopped you from contesting?

When I returned from South Africa after treatment, I engaged colleagues to know what type of caucus we were forming. Did we want to form a social club or a caucus that would push the interests of Buganda on the floor of parliament?

Eventually I realized that people were interested in going to parties, donating to charity and I think I’m not very good in that. I was interested in a political structure that would push Buganda and Uganda issues.

Wouldn’t you influence that when you are the leader of the caucus?

It was very clear from the word go that people were going to vote for their leaders along party lines. If NRM had made a resolution that they were going to vote for their members, it was hopeless to participate in such an election when you are sure you don’t have the numbers.

Would I be right to conclude that although you come from Buganda, you are not a member of Buganda caucus because you disagree with its agenda?

According to their objectives, they would bury me if I were to die today. Definitely I would contribute money if a colleague lost a relative, that’s all; they will not go beyond that. I can’t sit with them to plot anything political or legislative.

To be clear, you are no longer interested in anything to do with the Buganda caucus other than issues you would do for another MP from outside Buganda.

It is very clear that the caucus is not going to pursue a legislative programme in parliament and I will not be looking in that direction when I’m seeking to lobby members to influence legislation. What I can do is to talk to them as individual members of the caucus, but not as a group.

If you were to vote in that election; of the two candidates, Ssekikubo and Muyanja Ssenyonga, who would you have voted for?

Ssenyonga is my friend in Mukono but if Buganda caucus wanted a strong leader, they would have voted for Ssekikubo.

What do you say about the summons by parliament of newspaper editors?

I don’t know why even parliament is doing that. It should work on improving its public relations machinery. They should get somebody to work out a good public relations package.

Because some of these stories have come as a result of poor public relations management by parliament. Like now, they say parliament is in recess yet members are very busy doing committee work.

These are our internal weaknesses that have got to do with our civil servants. We also need to do the right things to get good publicity. I don’t think it’s worthwhile for us to start fighting the media. Of course even you in the media are always not objective. Some of you are just malicious with a deliberate plan to demonize parliament.

Student conned in Makerere University admission scam

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 20:57
Clinton Nahurira

An administrator at Makerere University is in spotlight for allegedly conning a student to help him with irregular admission into the university.

Elias Nuwagaba, the custodian of the main administration block, reportedly convinced the student that he would help him secure admission for a course in Medicine and Surgery at a fee of Shs 8m.

However, the student identified as Clinton Nahurira, 19, of Igayaza in Kakumiro district, managed to raise only Shs 2m. To him, Nuwagaba was a professor at Makerere University recommended by a friend, after failing to secure government sponsorship for the academic year 2016/2017.

Nahuhira attained 15 points at A-level from a combination of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and sub-maths (PCB/sub-Maths). His dream was to become a surgeon.

"When our family friend learnt that I had not been admitted, he suggested that he would connect us to someone who could help… The reference asked for Shs 8m but we settled for Shs 2m," Nahurira told URN.

Instead, Nuwagaba submitted an application for a course in development studies, on behalf of the student. Based on this, Nahurira was admitted for a Bachelor in Development Studies course under registration number 16/U/20744/PS at Nsamizi Training Institute of Social Development.

The institute, located in Mpigi district is an affiliate of Makerere University.  However, Nahurira declined the offer saying it was far away from what he desired. He was also registered for a Poultry course, which was later, blocked on account that he could not be admitted for two courses at the same time.

Subsequently, Nuwagaba sent him to the School of Medicine to start classes as he awaits his official admission letter. Over the last two months, Nahurira has been attending class at the Medical school, along with other students. But he later learnt that he needed a registration number and a student number to accompany his test scripts.

He had paid Shs 450,000 to cater for his accommodation at Atiz hostel in Makerere, Kavule where he has been staying since the semester began.

He claims Nuwagaba later asked for more money to help the student change to another course saying the process was tedious and involved a number of people who all wanted a share of the money.

When URN contacted him on phone through the contacts provided by the complainants, Nuwagaba denied dealing with the duo.

"It is not true and I don't know anything about it," said Nuwagaba adding that the student was dealing with a one Julius Masaba in the arrangement.

“They were harassing the wrong person… it is not me. The person involved in the admission is Masaba, it is not me Elias really. It is not me who is involved in that saga. I think the police has those details. What I tell you is, get in touch with the DPC’s office in Kibuli because those things were filed yesterday. They are harassing me wrongly. It is not me”, he added.

 Nahurira however insists he has never dealt with the said Julius Masaba.

Gulu cholera outbreak contained

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 20:09

The three cholera patients admitted for treatment at St Mary's Hospital Lacor in Gulu have been discharged from isolation.
 
Dr Emmanuel Ochola, the head of HIV, research and documentation department says the hospital effectively contained the disease within days and no new cases have emerged.
 
Dr Ochola says the trio left the isolation ward on Friday after fully recovering from the disease. They were residents of Bibiya village in Elegu parish, Atiak sub-county in Amuru district.
 
The three were brought from the outskirts of South Sudan refugees' reception centres on Elegu border post where the ministry of Health has been battling an outbreak since September.
 
Two of the victims were members of the same family while the third was a 14-year-old boy who reported to the hospital while already on treatment.
 
Dr Ochola urged communities to practice proper waste disposal and observe high standard of hygiene to prevent further outbreak.
 
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine manifesting with severe watery diarrhoea and vomiting. It is potent for causing dehydration and death if not quickly treated.


UAF seeks Shs 5.1bn for World Cross Country Championship

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 19:21

The Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) needs Shs 5.1bn from the government to successfully host the 2017 IAAF World Cross Country Championship.

Dominic Otuchet, the president of the federation said in an interview on Tuesday that they still need a lot of financial support from the government to be able to have the March 26 event in Kampala.

Otuchet said the government has only released Shs 860m which has been used to book hotels for athletes and the staff of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The official also said although the world athletics body will cater for some of the costs, the bigger costs must be catered for by the Ugandan government and sponsors.

Last year Uganda beat Bahrain for the honour of hosting the biennial event, which will take place on March 26 at the Kololo Ceremonial Grounds. Over 700 athletes and several journalists are expected to attend.

Besides the government of Uganda contributing towards the championship, local sponsors and the IAAF will also contribute financially towards the event which comes to the East African region for the second time after Kenya also hosted the event in 2007.

Other countries on the continent that have hosted the event previously are; Morocco in 1998, South Africa in 1996 and Morocco in 1975.
 

Broadcasters condemn break-in at Observer

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 02:30

National Association of Broadcasters wishes to express strong condemnation of the break-in, theft and vandalisation of Observer Media Ltd property at their premises in Kamwokya, on the night of October 15th 2016.

As  a voice of broadcasters  in Uganda, NAB  believes that an attack on any media platform in the country is an attack on all media in the country.

These  actions violate Uganda’s constitution that seeks to protect press freedom under article 29.

As part of the fourth estate, media plays a significant  role in shaping the course of politics through informing the citizenry and acting as a feedback platform to the leadership.

NAB calls upon the relevant law enforcement authorities to objectively and expeditiously handle the case to its conclusion and to apply the fullest extent of the law to the culprits to protect media freedom in Uganda.

Kin Kariisa,

Chairman
National Association of Broadcasters

UNEB exams: Police helicopters on standby

Mon, 10/17/2016 - 22:50

Three police helicopters are on standby to deliver materials to hard-to-reach areas, as national examinations got underway today.

The helicopters have been provided on request of the ministry of Education and Sports through the focal point officer, Bashanga Katungi.

Up to 323,129 students started their Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) examinations today from 3,453 centres across the country. A total of 1,068,224 candidates will be examined this academic year in Primary leaving examinations (PLE), UCE and Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE).

The Police choppers are on standby

Police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi says the helicopters will ease delivery of examination materials to students in the countryside especially during rainy days.

Often, transport to areas that are in distant places is paralyzed due to poor physical infrastructure leading to a delay in delivery of materials.

"All we need is to be informed of any transportation challenge and our helicopters will be ready to go," Kaweesi says.

Prior to this, police's main role in the national examination is to store examination papers at the different police stations and to handle criminal cases of malpractice. The exams are stored at the district storage facilities that are provided by UNEB to police.

Police is also mandated to ensure safe delivery of the exams from the Kampala to different police stations from where they are delivered to various examination centres.



Diplomats tasked on changing Uganda’s image abroad

Mon, 10/17/2016 - 22:34
Frank Tumwebaze

Lack of adequate knowledge and facts about Uganda, by representatives in missions abroad is denting Uganda’s tourism and investment sector, Information minister Frank Tumwebaze has said.

Tumwebaze says government is now developing a special catalogue to be dispatched to all missions abroad. The guide will contain key descriptive facts about Uganda's geography, unique features, delicacies, stability and leisure industry among others.

He says that the need for the catalogue was observed during recent events in Washington DC and in Istanbul in Turkey, where Ugandan teams were campaigning for key positions at a global scene.

In the first meeting, Uganda was campaigning for a council seat at the Universal Postal Union (UPU) while in the second; Ugandan Patrick Masambu was campaigning to head the International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation (ITSO) as secretary general. Uganda won in both attempts as a result of what Tumwebaze says, was due to great lobbying and negotiation.

He explains that because Uganda's image has been tainted by harmful propaganda and that ¬winning the two positions was no mean job. However, Tumwebaze adds, that this new campaign seeks to change the image and ease such processes for Ugandans in future. He was addressing journalists at the media centre in Kampala today.

“And these officers in-charge of these international partnerships for every ministry with key descriptive facts about Uganda’s stability, its unique geography, its unique people and cultures, its places and delicacies. It is important every Ugandan official representative capacity ably presents a good image of our country. It has to always be the best and nothing else”.  

He says a minimum package of information should be given to each Ugandan delegate and heads of ministries traveling abroad to promote tourism and investment.  The information will be in both digital and hard copy form.

Tumwebaze equally appealed to Ugandans not to take Uganda's internal ambiguities and challenges abroad but promote a single narrative covered with attractive branding while seeking international benefits. He says correct messaging is very vital in the development of Uganda.

Shaban Bantariza, the government deputy spokesperson observes a need to change the image of a volatile state that Uganda is thought to be. He says having many Ugandans speak for the country through different embassies, ministries and delegates will help demystify that.

How expired drugs end up in hospitals

Mon, 10/17/2016 - 15:53

54% of health facilities found with expired drugs

The expiry date on the container for the drug called chlorpromazine read August 2016.

But by mid-October, the medicine was still sitting on a shelf at Kasangati health centre IV, arguaby ready to be prescribed to patients. Sitting beside the chlorpromazine containers were 13 other drugs, all on the shelves despite being well past their use- by dates.

These included; ethambutol (for treating tuberculosis), lumartem and coartem (for malaria), septrin for HIV patients, tetracycline eye ointment, HIV test kits, and red top vacutainer blood collection tubes.

And this was no isolated case, a recent investigation by The Observer spanning four districts revealed. At Kiswa health centre III on October 4, there was expired aluvia syrup for HIV/Aids-infected children below five years.

At Kyabazaala health centre III in Mukono district, which The Observer visited on September 22, there was expired niverapine syrup for babies exposed to HIV/ Aids, aluvia syrup for HIV-positive babies and lumartem for malaria.

A worker at National Medical Stores inspect drugs to be taken to health centers

This newspaper’s survey findings seem to confirm findings released by the Global Fund on Malaria, HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis on February 26, 2016. The Global Fund has disbursed $623 million to Uganda since 2002.

In a report prepared after a survey of 50 health facilities countrywide (40 public and 10 private facilities), the Global Fund said the usage of expired drugs is rampant in Uganda.

Marcela Rojo, the spokesperson of the Global Fund Geneva Office, told The Observer in an email: The Global Fund’s Office found expired health commodities in 54 per cent of the facilities visited, but the report did not weigh in on the magnitude of the problem in those health facilities or across the country.”

At the ministry of health, the assistant commissioner for Integrated Curative Services, Dr Jackson Amone, said the findings by the Global Fund pointed to a worrying trend.

“If 54 per cent of the health facilities were found with expired medicines, it means more than half of the health centres had expired drugs,” he said.

Uganda has a total of 4,496 registered health facilities serving its 34 million people. Of these, 157 are hospitals while 4,339 are health centres. So, how do these expired drugs end up in more than half of Uganda’s medical facilities?

NATIONAL MEDICAL STORES

The organisation mandated to ensure “continuous distribution of pharmaceutical products in a financially-viable and sustainable manner to meet the needs of public health services” in Uganda is the National Medical Stores (NMS).

Its public relations officer, Dan Atwijukire Kimosho, said that last year, the organisation supplied drugs worth Shs 1 trillion, of which government contributed Shs 220bn while the rest was from donors.

“I can’t tell how much has been lost in expired medicines since at some health centres we collect drugs which were not supplied by NMS after checking the batch numbers. To fight this, we are going to stop collecting expired drugs which have batch numbers that don’t belong to NMS,” Kimosho says.

However, the most recent value-for money audit on NMS by the Office of the Auditor General showed the tug of war within the organisation to maintain the legally-mandated buffer stock levels of four months while at the same time ensuring that they don’t overstock medicines.

“NMS stocks drugs without regard to buffer stock levels; as such, certain drugs are in excess of the one year’s requirement while others are under- stocked. There were huge stocks of expired drugs within the stores of NMS,” said the report, which was released in March 2010.

More than six years later, workers at the health facilities, which we visited during the two months of this investigation indicated that NMS has not yet found a lasting solution to the problem. Different sources at these health facilities said that NMS uses a “push system” of dumping unrequested medicines in a bid to avoid audit queries over expiries in their stores.

“Health centres can’t also redistribute these drugs to other centres since they don’t have the mandate. As a result, medicines end up accumulating and expire,” explained a medical officer at Kasangati health centre IV, who declined to be named for fear of retribution.

Global Fund’s Rojo propped up the health worker’s claim, saying their report had found that the expiry of health commodities before they could be used was partly a result of NMS supplying commodities that had not been ordered by the different health facilities. He added that some of the medicines purchased had short shelf lives.

The drugs inspector in Wakiso district, Ronald Sserufusa, told The Observer that some of the drugs, such as anti-retrovirals (ARVs), expire before use because international organisations donate more than can be used in short-time spans.

“The biggest percentage of expired drugs is ARVs because of big donations from non-governmental organisations. They donate HIV/Aids drugs that have less than six months to expire yet they all can’t be used in a short time,” he said.

POLICY CHANGES

The assistant commissioner in charge of the Pharmacy Department at the ministry of health, Morris Seru, says that in the case of ARVs, the periodic changes of HIV/ Aids treatment to match new scientific findings affect the government’s ability to utilise all the medicines it stock.

“When policies change, some regimens of ARVs drop from use yet they had stocked many and then expire,” he says.

Patients waiting for service at Kasangati health center IV

According to Sserufusa, the government’s own policy changes have affected the usage of other drugs. For instance, he estimated that the policy change on malaria treatment could have contributed to at least 50 per cent of accumulation of expired malaria drugs in health centres.

“Since 2014, when government introduced the new policy of first testing malaria before treatment using rapid diagnosis test (RDT), the number of patients with malaria decreased,” he said.

“With the test and treatment policy, very few people were detected with malaria, and a lot of malaria drugs like coartem, lonart, duocotexin and Palaxin which were stocked in health centres weren’t used, which increased the expiry of medicines.”

In addition, according to Sserufusa, the decision by the government to change the combination of malaria management from Fansidar and chloroquine (SP/CQX) to artemesinin combination therapy (ACT) also played a part.

The intention of the combination change was to circumvent the resistance to old drugs by malaria parasites but since ACT was introduced, the old combination expired in the stores.

The World Health Organisation’s health advisor, Joseph Mwoga, said drugs expire because government doesn’t allow health centre IIs and IIIs to request for drugs they prefer from NMS. Consequently, NMS decides the drugs to send to health facilities even when they are not wanted.

This assessment is shared by the auditor general, who says in his audit report, “Although NMS is mandated to supply drugs and medical supplies to all public health services, in a number of cases, NMS does not supply drugs and medical supplies to meet public health units’ needs as per their orders.”

LOGISTICAL HEADACHES

Mwoga also faults the government over what he describes as poor procurement planning and coordination of the medicines and health supplies which enter the country.

“Different funding programmes and government are not well coordinated in ordering medicines from industries. Sometimes they order for similar medicines which reach at the same time in excess, creating over supply. Then NMS pushes them to health centres, and all can’t be used in a short time,” he said.

Poor storage of medicines in some health centres also contributes to the expiry of drugs. Some medicines are kept in stores that leak, and there is often a lack of refrigerators to protect sensitive medicines such as vaccines.

“Slow-moving medicines like psychiatric medicines also expire because most psychiatrists prefer going to Butabika mental hospital than health centres yet we always have drugs especially for follow- up cases. Eye drops also expire since few people take them,” Sserufusa explained.

A source added that the expiry of Vitamin A and family planning medicines could be due to routine health campaigns such as immunisation, for which considerable quantities of drugs are imported but sometimes not many people turn up.

Stephen Mungi, the councillor for Makerere III in Kawempe division, says some medical personnel hide particular medicines for emergencies that never occur. So, when NMS brings a new stock of drugs, the personnel keep the in a bid to get rid of the old stock first.

“Most patients also don’t check the expiry date of the medicines; so, they end up going home with expired drugs from such health facilities,” he says.

In 2010, the auditor general found that despite the requirement to destroy expired drugs every six months after write-off, there were expired drugs at both NMS premises and health centres countrywide which remain undestroyed for an average period of six years.

Indeed, a visit to health centres in Wakiso district confirmed this assessment. Since 2011, the expired medicines which NMS collected to date have never been destroyed.

“It is very risky to have expired drugs anywhere because people can re- package and circulate them,” said an official in Wakiso, who declined to be named. The public relations assistant in charge of Stakeholder management at NMS, Ester Bamukunda, said they are not mandated to destroy expired drugs. That responsibility, she said, belongs to the National Drug Authority (NDA).

When contacted, the NDA public relations officer, Fredrick Ssekyana, explained that expired drugs accumulate at health centres due to lack of funds to destroy them.

“It’s very expensive to destroy expired medicines yet hospitals have other pending issues,” he said.

Sekyana added that when they have the resources, they work with National Environment Management Authority (Nema) to destroy the medicines at Nakasongola military training school, which is the safe isolated place to destroy drugs without affecting the public.

“These drugs produce dangerous chemicals to the environment when we are burning them,” he said.

NMS’ Kimosho said some proprietors of pharmacies swap medicines that are due to expire with those at government health centres using their accomplices in order to avoid the relatively-high cost of destroying expired drugs.

Sekyana says private pharmacies which have expired drugs are charged Shs 100,000 for supervision per hour and Shs 2,457 per kilogram for the destruction of the drugs.

On August 26, the ministry of health issued a circular with guidelines for management of expired medicines. They included timely communication between NMS and health facilities, a ban on the delivery of medicines outside the officially- designated hours and implementing a system for the inter-facility transfers of excess medicines.

Dr Seru told The Observer that if implementation of the directives fails, the heads of health institutions at all levels will be held accountable.

“The implications that arise from expiries of medicine and health supplies at health facilities are that we are wasteful and don’t care about delivering quality health services to Ugandans yet there are limited resources,” Seru said.

zurah@observer.ug

Thus article is a product of The Watchdog, a centre for investigative journalism at The Observer. The investigation was undertaken with support from Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Besigye looks to walk-to-work top leaders to propel Defiance

Mon, 10/17/2016 - 14:26

Since he walked out of jail last July, Dr Kizza Besigye began working on a larger goal of expanding his defiance campaign beyond the realm of his party.

The Observer has learnt that Besigye has begun reassembling the team of opposition politicians who spearheaded the 2011 walk-to-work protests that almost paralysed Kampala.

Besigye, according to insiders, began crystallizing his plan when he was still on remand in Luzira prison, accused of treason. While there, the FDC presidential flag bearer notably met DP’s Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka municipality MP), Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala MP) and Medard Lubega Sseggona (Busiro East MP), who were kingpins in organizing and executing the 2011 walk-to-work protests.

People close to the three MPs say they are willing to join Besigye. On the outside, other activists have cobbled what is known as the ‘defiance cabinet,’ which holds weekly meetings at Besigye’s home in Kasangati.

Besigye used the prison meetings first to mend fences with the DP MPs since they supported rival presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi, the former prime minister.

But in the face of two failed FDC-led defiant campaigns against the 2016 elections; first, the Thursday stay-at-home and the Blue Friday campaigns, Besigye is keen on getting back on board with the hardcore walk-to-work protest campaigners.

Interviewed on Saturday, Margaret Wokuri, a pro-defiance activist and Mbale FDC chairperson, said Besigye has always wanted to work with all opposition supporters.

“But since 2011, he [Besigye] has always said the issues of Uganda are not about one political party but all Ugandans who believe in justice and the rule of law. It is not new, his aim is that we fight together and get the desired [political, institutional and economic] reforms and then everyone can go back to their respective political parties,” she said.

Dr Kizza Besigye (C) alongside FDC secretary general Nathan Nandala Mafabi (L) and party president Gen Mugisha Muntu

Besigye’s approach, however, has run into some trouble within FDC. Party president Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu prefers that the party focus on organizing and strengthening its grassroots structures instead of protests.

But pro-Besigye opposition supporters look at Muntu’s approach as a non-starter. Asked to comment on the issue on October 14, Muntu said: “I recognise the rights of people to think or make judgment in whatever way they want because that is democracy.”

The misunderstandings, according to Muntu, are caused by a failure by the politically-inexperienced FDC supporters to appreciate the need for two approaches.

“The misunderstandings have tremendously narrowed; I see that there is a deeper understanding that having different approaches should not divide us, but unite us,” he added.

At the party headquarters, Muntu oversees the defiance committee headed by Kira municipality MP Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda. It was formed immediately after the February 18 elections with the aim of forcing the government to agree to an international audit of the results.

Following the failure of its immediate objective, the committee is expected to carry on with its activities, among them organizing parallel events for all national functions.

“We decided that all national functions should not be left to be monopolized by NRM because if we contribute to budgets of such functions through the taxes we pay, why then do we have to leave them to be used by NRM to promote its agenda?” Ssemujju told The Observer on October 13.

Their first planned activities during the Independence day weekend were foiled by police. On October 7, the day the first planned rally was scheduled to take place at Bweyogerere in Kira municipality, policemen surrounded Ssemujju’s home early in the morning and wouldn’t let him out.

The days that followed, police detained Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, Makindye West MP Allan Ssewanyana, Besigye, plus former Tororo MP Geoffrey Ekanya and FDC mobiliser Ingrid Turinawe.

“Our resolve is for a protracted peaceful resistance to put government on pressure to allow reforms for free and fair elections,” Ssemujju said.

Speaking on Friday, Muntu expressed his commitment to the Ssemujju-led defiance committee but not Besigye’s defiance cabinet.

“The [defiance] committee plans and works within, and also reports to the organs of the party [while the defiance cabinet] is a matter before courts; I wouldn’t want to talk about it,” Muntu said.

sadabkk@observer.ug

Why Museveni, Bashir have become friends

Mon, 10/17/2016 - 14:19
President Museveni and Omar al Bashir

There was a time when President Museveni and his Sudanese counterpart, Hassan Omar al Bashir couldn’t see eye-to-eye, let alone shake hands.

Then, Kampala accused Khartoum of funding Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army while Sudan alleged that Uganda was providing sanctuary to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA) led by the late Dr John Garang.

This acrimony now seems to be in the distant past as President Museveni’s visit to Khartoum, the second within one year, demonstrated last week. It speaks volumes that Museveni was the only non-Muslim president invited to witness the signing of the pact between Bashir and 90 political parties and rebel movements.

Other leaders who attended the function were: Idriss Deby of Chad, who is also incumbent chairman of the African Union, Mohammed Fatah Al-Sisi of Egypt, and Mohammed Abdul-Aziz of Mauritania. Don Wanyama, the senior presidential press secretary, said the longstanding feud between Uganda and Sudan has come to an end as a result of several geo-political developments, notably the end of the LRA conflict and the creation of South Sudan.

He added that unlike in the past, Museveni and Bashir have now discovered they have more things in common.

“They are both united by their disdain for Western domination through institutions such as the International Criminal Court (ICC). But most importantly, President Museveni has been agitating for a united Africa which means we have to work together,” Wanyama said.

Indeed, with the routing of the LRA from Uganda ten years ago, the main source of tension between the two leaders was removed. The creation of South Sudan became the icing on the cake as a buffer of friendly forces had been planted between the two countries, which now ceased to share a border that had been a source of conflict for a long time.

More recently, the South Sudan internal conflict pitting President Salva Kiir against his rival and former vice president Dr Riek Machar has gotten the two men talking as they bid to end the war without com- promising their interests.

Dr Frederick Golooba-Mutebi, a political scientist, told The Observer yesterday that he believes Museveni is interceding on behalf of Kiir.

“I suspect that he could be telling Bashir not to support Machar against Salva Kiir because this will escalate the situation,” Golooba-Mutebi said.

Secondly, he said, both countries being members of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), Museveni and Bashir have to work together to try and fashion a way out of the crisis that is hurting both economies.

Bashir remains an influential player in South Sudan politics and Museveni, who has positioned himself as the peacemaker-in-chief within the Great Lakes region, needs his support.

Last year, Sudan vice president Hasabo Abdel Rahman met President Museveni in Kampala and the two countries agreed to form a joint mechanism to implement a security agreement that would bring stability to the region. In Khartoum on Monday, Museveni said continuation of conflict in the region would hurt its economic growth prospects.

“You have heard us being called landlocked. We’re not landlocked. We have a highway called the Nile that leads us to the Mediterranean but it can’t be used because of problems in South Sudan. Uganda will do everything possible to support Sudan in peace-making,” he said.

BASHIR’S LEGACY

Bashir, who has been in power since 1989, might have another motivation for cozying up to neighbours that he previously fought. In April this year, he told the BBC in an interview that he will stand down as leader of Sudan when his current term ends in 2020. Sudanese analysts suggested then that he could be trying to polish his political legacy at home and abroad.

If he seriously wants to quit in four years’ time, Bashir might be trying to shape his legacy both internally, by doing everything to reunite his fractured country, and regionally by cultivating more allies.

Chad, a Muslim country whose leader Deby was one of the four in Khartoum last week, previously had fractured relations with Sudan, culminating in the severing of diplomatic ties in 2008.

More so, ever since the ICC indicted Bashir in 2009 for crimes against humanity and war crimes in the western Sudan region of Darfur, he has looked isolated.

He has only visited countries that have given him assurances that he will not be arrested. These include South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia. He could not visit Uganda in 2010 during an African Union summit, because he was not sure of his security then.

When he graced President Museveni’s swearing-in ceremony at Kololo in May, 2016, the loudest cheers were reserved for Bashir. True to form, Museveni used the occasion to praise his erstwhile enemy while blasting the ICC as an unserious body.

“We lost interest in the ICC...ICC is none of our business. It is a useless body. We had supported the ICC initially thinking they were serious...but it is a bunch of useless people,” Museveni told his audience to the amusement of Bashir who smiled sheepishly. Some angry Western diplomats led by US and Canada walked out in protest, offended by these remarks.

FROSTY HISTORY

The newfound camaraderie between Museveni and Bashir was inconceivable 10 years ago. At the height of the tension in 1995, Uganda drove military tanks into the Sudanese embassy and severed diplomatic ties.

As recently as 2012 when Uganda purchased four fighter jets worth $700 million, Col Felix Kulayigye, the then army spokesman, justified the expenditure, citing the threat posed by Sudan, among other countries.

“We shall not provoke anyone into war, but if we are attacked, we shall take war to whoever has provoked us. Do you think we shall sit down and watch as planes bomb Ugandans because they have superior weapons?” Kulayigye asked.

Besides Bashir, President Museveni has been making friends out of former enemies all around lately. Rwanda’s Paul Kagame is a case in point, and so is DR Congo whose president Joseph Kabila was in Kasese to meet Museveni recently following years of acrimony.

The realignment of relations in the region just proves the saying that in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies, just permanent interests.

ekiggundu@observer.ug

Tumuhimbise: the rich ‘jobless youth’ feeding on activism

Mon, 10/17/2016 - 13:04
Norman Tumuhimbise

The brain behind of pig demonstrations is a globetrotter

On June 18, 2014, the nature of Uganda’s public demonstrations took an unprecedented twist when two young men succeeded in sneaking two piglets into the precincts of parliament.

Calling themselves ‘The Jobless Brotherhood,’ Norman Tumuhimbise and Robert Mayanja were protesting the rampant corruption, youth unemployment and exploitation. They doused the piglets in yellow paint, a reference meant to taunt the ruling NRM party.

Today, these youths are battling several court cases ranging from criminal trespass to conspiracy to commit a felony. Tumuhimbise is the chairman of the group that he says has more than 5,000 members and nothing seems to stop their activism. Recently, Jobless Brotherhood members let off more piglets at parliament and went a notch higher by inscribing on them names of some MPs.

As the country gets to terms with the piglet demonstration, The Observer tracked down Tumuhimbise to find out what motivates him to take on such a rare kind of demonstration.

WHO IS TUMUHIMBISE?

The 30-year-old is a son of a UPDF sergeant, Patrick Nuwagaba and Sylvia Kemirembe of Lusaana village, Mpumudde in Lwengo district. He studied to Kyakwebera PS in Lusaana village, Modern High School, Kyazanga for O-level and Bombo Army SS for A-level.

After he failed to join the police force, he enrolled at the Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) to pursue a degree in law. However, he never completed the course because the institution expelled him for leading that piglet demonstration in 2014.

“They summoned me to the disciplinary committee where they charged me for associating with piglets. They said I was spoiling the reputation of the institution,” The humble-speaking Tumuhimbise says. Before the dismissal, he was asked to choose between politics and studies. “I chose to first stay my education and pursue human rights.”

After some time in the academic cold, Tumuhimbise applied for a place at Kampala International University (KIU), where he was admitted and is currently continuing with his law course. He is married to Melisa Kemigisa and the couple has two children aged seven and three.  

BECOMING AN ACTIVIST

Tumuhimbise said he was inspired after witnessing the injustices his family endured over the years. For instance, he said his father joined the NRA bush-war in 1984 but up to now, he is still at the same rank of sergeant given to him in 1988.

“Seeing my father at the same rank for almost 30 years made me want to fight this injustice. There are people who are promoted almost on a monthly basis,” he said.

He also pointed out his failed bid to join the police force as another motivation for activism. In 2007, he tried to join police but he was discontinued after six months of training.

“I was chased away from Kabalye police training school because on my medical form I had indicated that I had allergies. But the real reason was because they wanted to create room for the so-called rats [children of well-connected],” he claimed.

This, he says, emboldened his desire to lead change where every Ugandan has got the same rights regardless of his/her origin.

“It has been a sequence of events that gave me the energy to confront my oppressors. You must be so brave to say I’m standing up for the rest of your colleagues,” Tumuhimbise said.

In the 2011 general elections, he contested for the Bukoto Midwest parliamentary seat. Although he lost, this gave him impetus to continue fighting.

“I started the Jobless Brotherhood in 2013 but we continued to develop the concept. The question was: should we attach ourselves to FDC? We said people will misinterpret us. We need to be nonpartisan,” he added.

SHS 5 MILLION A MONTH

Concern has been raised in several circles how Jobless Brotherhood gets the money to run activities. Tumuhimbise said that he is the primary source of the resources.

“We are so expensive to be used, let alone be bought. There is no way we can stand against youth exploitation and then we are exploited ourselves,” he said, adding that there is a difference between being jobless and having money.

“You can be jobless when you have money but you can also have a job when you don’t have money,” he pointed out.

When he is not engaged in activism, Tumuhimbise is an author and further says he also rears goats, sheep and cows.  “I have no job but I can sustain myself; one of my book costs $18 on amazon.com. There are so many downloads every now and again and what do you expect? I have money which I inject in my farm. Every month I can get at least Shs 5 million,” he boasted.

So far, he has written two books; Behind The Devil’s Line (2014) and Unsowing The Mustard Seed, a critique of President Museveni’s Sowing The Mustard Seed.

“Even if I applied to get a job now, I would get a very good one right away but my question is: if I get a very good job, will it help other Ugandans wallowing in poverty?,”

WHY PIGS AND PARLIAMENT?

Tumuhimbise explained that their use of the pigs is symbolic to show the selfishness and greed among MPs.

“Beside the hyena, there is no any other animal that is as greedy as a pig.  I have not seen any animal in its sober mind that eats its own kids. That is the same picture we are seeing with our leaders. They are eating us alive,” he said.

He said they chose parliament because it is where leaders from across the country converge to determine the direction of the country as it is them who pass laws and policies on which the country is run.

“Every single policy that makes us suffer is passed by parliament. So, there is no suitable place to demonstrate other than parliament,” he said.

However, he is apologetic to Muslims whom he says have misinterpreted their mode of demonstration.

“We do not have any intention to annoy, irritate or overlook anyone’s religion.  It was just symbolic to say we want things performed better,” he said.

Rugasira talks life in the UK, promoting Ugandan coffee

Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:53
Andrew Rugasira

ANDREW RUGASIRA is the chairman of Good African Coffee and aspirant for chairperson of the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce. He talked to Capital FM’s Simon Kasyate, the host of Desert Island Discs programme.

Good evening and welcome to the show.

Thank you. I am glad to be here.

Who is Andrew Rugasira?

I am 47 years old. I am born to Martha and Henry Rugasira. My father was an industrialist. He set up a school chalk factory in Uganda in the 1970s. My mother was an administrator; she worked in a bank before joining my father in business. I have two younger sisters and two older sisters.

You are the only boy!

I am the only one, yes.

Spoilt boy!!

I wouldn’t call it spoilt. My primary school, at eight years, I was at Savio School, in Kisubi.

What had you done to your parents to send you to boarding school at that age?

You know in 1979, Savio was considered one of the leading boarding schools in the country. If you remember that time, the political situation and the insecurity was such that it was actually a good thing to take children to boarding school.

So, my father was a disciplinarian. He believed that his son was an investment carrying his name. Therefore, if he was to get a good return on this investment, he didn’t spare the rod and he had to take him in a good school. So, I spent my primary five, six and seven there…From there I went to St Mary’s [College] Kisubi for two years. Then after my S2, I went to the UK.

Let’s go back to your childhood: how was home like before you went to boarding school?

I went to boarding school at eight; so, my earlier years are of my dad beginning to build his business.

He was very busy, lots of travel. It was a typical middle-class home at the time, with friends and family being part of a social life, church being part of our Sunday life, visiting friends and a tough kind of discipline regime at home, and obviously visiting relatives upcountry in the village.

My father comes from Kanungu district, Kihiihi to be specific. My mother’s village is in Luweero. We would go to both places. So, I would say it was a family insistent on values and hard work and my dad was a tough enforcer of those values and I can say the final product hasn’t veered far off.

Tell us about the little Rugasira.

In my early years, I had a penchant for doing some activities in class that the teacher thought were best done outside class. So, if there was one criticism, it would be ‘Andrew could do better; could be more focused; he is an intelligent boy but rather playful in class’.

Those were the earlier years. You can only imagine the repercussions at home. Then my parents thought that boarding school would be the good environment to build character, to build those values they wanted to see in their child. But all in all, they were happy memories.

When your dad enforced that discipline which you shared, what was your intrinsic reaction?

From a very early age, I had a strong sense of fairness, or what I, at that time, thought was just or unjust. On a large number of cases I thought yes, the punishment was justified. But sometimes I was curious as to what choice of mode of punishment. I would have probably opted for a different punishment.

Now that I am a father of five children, I am not practicing the choice punishments that I may not have dished out to me. But you must remember that that is a generation of parenting and parents. Today, parenting has been conditioned by the environment.

Having my own children has given me a deeper appreciation of the strength and the value of the tongue. A tongue is as effective as a lash we got when we were growing up. I do two things: one, I encourage incessantly. So, within them is this appreciation for doing the right thing. When they do something wrong, it is a conversation, and if it happens repeatedly, the conversation gets much more engaged and serious.

And I have found that we have built a stronger relationship in terms of friendship. You know the children begin to appreciate the quality of the relationship and when the things are not right, when they don’t do things right, the key thing for them is that what they have done will have repercussions on this relationship as opposed to ‘ohhh, I have done it wrong;  therefore, there is gonna be a reaction of a punishment.’

Punishments I think are necessary in some instances with children but I have found the tongue communicating and always encouraging them that they can aspire to be better. You know punishment without dialogue loses the full meaning of what you are trying to teach.

Plays jazz by Isaiah Katumwa

While at Kisubi, had you made up your mind on what you wanted to be in life?

That was survival period…you wanted to survive the bullying and the harsh conditions. It was a tough time. So, you were thinking how do I get out of here and get home to some good food and nice bed?  I have never believed in bullying others. I

have never liked being bullied and never meted it out to others.

In all this survivalism you don’t think about a career to strive for?

…I first thought of business. Because in that father figure I had at home, I was excited about the potential of creating something during the holidays I would sometimes go and work at his chalk factory. 

Where was this factory and what was the brand name?

I was called Kampala Chalk Factory. You know my father’s interest was a result of the economic space created by the expulsion of Asians. He started his business in 1973-4. Perseverance in the 70s, in the 80s, with all the insecurity, he ran into exile, came back and run his factory.

They attempted to take it away from him. But resilience, perseverance, faith, commitment, those are the things I would pick up as a young kid. From my mother, it was values, visiting him [my father] in prison every day. He was in prison for one and a half years.

You know we used to stay in Bugolobi; trekking down to Luzira every day taking food, walking back, meeting lawyers in the mornings, trying to get the case heard. It was the first time I heard the word habeas corpus. I must have been 11 or 12, and that word stuck on my mind…I guess at that time I wanted to be a businessman.

When you moved to the UK, how did you face this as a young man in a strange country?

I was in a school where there are no more than a dozen blacks. If you have been going to school where all faces look like yours, and now you go to a school where the majority of faces don’t look like yours, you come starkly in contact with what is now different. Sometimes you are not prepared for that.

So, I found I had students from all sorts of backgrounds. There was a little bit of racial abuse, I wouldn’t say it was racism because a lot of it was ignorance, it was not deliberate, kids are kids, they say things that sometimes they don’t understand. But that was the first thing I encountered.

The second thing I immediately recognized was the harsh British weather. I went to a school that followed the old regimental system where you wake up in the morning at six and go for a morning run.  Then the boys would come back and have a cold shower. How that is supposed to build character, I have never figured out!...

The whole family was in the UK?

No, it was me in the beginning and then my sisters followed later.

And your parents?

They were in Uganda.

Plays Tequila Moon by Jessy J
 
Andrew, how competitive was it in the UK on the side of academics?

One of the things I can say is that I was extremely privileged to go to school in the UK. Something I appreciated earlier on was that privilege comes with responsibility.

So, I made it incumbent that I one, want to take it seriously and, two, I invest as much as I could in it to perform and, three, come up with the results. My O-levels were good but average, they were not great; I could have done much better. Then I went to another school in the north of England, Shrewsbury.

Did my A-levels, did well. Then I went to the University of London to study law and economics. By the time I was doing my A-levels, I began to get interested in issues of Africa, political economy. I met a lot of friends from South Africa, ANC exile students. There was a time when I was kind of influenced by pan-Africanism and liberation struggles…

At this point in life, you also start to appreciate the fairer sex: how were you able to mix…?

I had as common and as regular an adolescence as you had Simon. I did what every youngster does growing up. I was interested in things young boys get interested in. But thankfully, it wasn’t destructive or become an issue. So, I would say healthy adolescence.

Was your university course your choice?

It was my choice. One, it [was] a huge privilege to offer a course like that. I wasn’t particularly [interested] in a law degree but if we could combine it with economics and study the law in as far as [it is] connected with development, that was exciting. If I also could study development in economics and combine the law through which societies transform; I was very interested in those things.

That was when I think of this passion of how rural communities in agriculture can use the resources that are in their midst, harness those resources to bring about a transformation in their own lives and their communities.

Agricultural economy became a fascinating thing because you immediately recognize that because communities are rich in resources. They have suitable land to grow a lot of things, all factors of production. What is it that is stopping them [from] doing it efficiently? Those are the questions I enjoyed… So, I finish my first degree in September 1992.

My dad was not well at the time. I came back home. My intention was to go on and do a master’s degree immediately but I came home and in the nine months that followed, I took up a research fellowship at the Centre for Basic Research. Really when I thought back, going to boarding school at eight, going to England at 13, I was always away.

I hadn’t really bonded with my father. So, that was the time, come back home, spend some time with him, with the family. Unfortunately, nine months later, he passed away. I went from being a research fellow to becoming part of the family business with the chalk factory.

To make a difficult situation even more difficult, 1993 was the tike the liberalisation policies were kicking in. Local manufacturers were being hit, they couldn’t compete…we had to take the very hard decision a couple of years later to close down the factory.

We couldn’t compete with cheaper Chinese and Indian chalk. To give you an example, we were being supplied raw materials by a Kenyan suppler of gypsum that was producing school chalk that was being sold in Uganda. You are now competing with your supplier. So, we had to take a tough decision as a family.

That was the first lesson in tough decisions. People remember this iconic Kampala chalk factory, the founder and promoter passes away, and here comes [his]foreign-educated kid and he is closing this thing down! But the family understood and all bought into a need to move forward into another area.

Plays a song by Oliver Mtukudzi 

Andrew Rugasira with his children

What happened after closing the factory?

In 1995 I set up a company, because I see a gap in the market. One of the things that I think entrepreneurs are known for is identifying gaps, opportunities or problems and solving them. I remember going to a concert, a show, I don’t remember what it was.

They built the stage on two containers, plywood, speakers that weren’t connected, didn’t work! I said is this how a concert is organised. I said maybe there is an opportunity here…  Then I was listening to [an events-organizer] on Desert Island Discs, driving down Nakasero road, saying that for his next project, he is gonna bring in Lucky Dube. I said what!

This guy is bringing Lucky Dube, with that kind of production, no way. We can do better. I just remember that thought in my head. You know that kind of creating brands, marketing, and promotion; that always caught my mind. I then, through some contact of a friend in Zimbabwe who knows the management company for Lucky Dube, get to South Africa.

He says I will meet you down in SA and connect you. I get to the airport on Johannesburg, Oliver Tambo; I have never been to South Africa. From the airport, I get a taxi and he asks me where do I wanna stay. I say I am an average guy from Africa, get me an average hotel. So, he took me to Hillbrow.

You know where Hillbrow is? Today it is a no-go area, it is a gang-land. So, I enter this hotel and find all these kinds of metal detectors and metal grills. To go to the dining there are metal grills and people searching you! Inside a hotel! At the reception when they give you the key, they say ‘make sure you take all your valuables’.

So, the next day I call the manager of Lucky Dube and I ask to meet. The lady was wonderful, I remember. She politely suggested that we meet on another side of town.

She said ‘would you mind to come to this side of Roseburg?’ when I went to Roseburg, after the second meeting, she gingerly suggested that it might be a good idea if I stayed in another hotel….eventually we talked, I was asked what experience I had with promotions, I said yes indeed I had an extensive resume in setting up university events, which actually I had done once.

I presented it with a lot of confidence and I gave them a couple of numbers they could call and people who might verify that I had the commitment and capacity. So, on a risk, we decided that we could do business together. I came back and began the journey of selling the first event. I got specialists: those who could build stages, put up lights.

Where did you find them?

In South Africa: the beauty was that artists of that caliber have what they call technical riders. So, they have a technical list of equipment and it is standard – where it can be sourced if you don’t have it in your country.

So, the service providers were there but obviously it was a cost and a risk on me. No sponsors. People didn’t know me. So, we started VR promotions and proceeded to bring Lucky Dube to Nile hotel at the time.

We had a VIP show; we brought sound systems that shook Kampala a little bit. People hadn’t heard of that volume.  It was exciting to be a part of creating a new standard. A new way of doing things.

Plays It Wasn’t Easy by Cece Winans

Tell us about your story of promoting Ugandan coffee and now the motivation to head the Uganda national chamber of commerce. After VR, I started Good African, and this was driven by two key impulses. One, was to create a dignity for an African product.

Having gone to school in the UK and going to supermarkets and seeing produce from Africa but packaged and value-added by other companies, that always stuck in my head. I realised that the opportunities were there. That if we had an idea about marketing and brand building and promoting, we could actually do something with a product Uganda had built over the years.

The second driver was the opportunity that the rural communities represent to drive from their own lives. You know! And a partnership with them could certainly unlock potential. They have social capital. They have the labour.

They had the knowledge. We had a bit of data in terms of how to improve crop management, we had opportunities to add value, we had brand building capabilities because we had a marketing company, and perhaps we could create this partnership that could bring a finished product on to the market and in that way change the perception about Africa and change the perceptions of African always seeking solutions from outside – that kind of donor-dependence which stifles creativity and dehumanizes us.

Those are the things that got me into Good African…eventually we built a great network of farmers producing and supplying great coffee. We then began to make forays into the UK… It took some time to convince them.

But that also was a very steep learning curve of having a vision, sticking with it…it has been a great journey, seen great transformation in our farmers and when people begin to identify worth in what they do and their dignity in what they, the self-esteem develops, aspirations grow and the farmers we work with who were living in mud-and-wattle houses have permanent structures, bicycles and motorcycles…

What interests you in Chamber of Commerce?

Several things. First, it is interesting how people look at the chamber as a kind of quasi government political organisation; it isn’t.  It is a private company limited by guarantee. It has a very, very clear mandate. Bring businesses together as an umbrella organisation.

Advocate for their interests, pro-business policies, create networking and partnership opportunities, trade and investment opportunities. Very clear-cut private sector mandate. As a member of the private sector community at large, I began to realize that a lot of the things you encounter in conferences and media should be at the centre of chamber of commerce initiatives.

The chamber should be at the helm of policy formulation, at the front of budget discussions, even for election manifestos. They should be saying hey, politicians this is what we want to see for the private sector.

Even in circumstances like now when the economy is suffering some degree of suppress and people are talking about bailouts and no bailouts, we should be talking about what government should really be doing. Because businesspeople know what business needs and government people know what policy can be put in place…So, I found that the chamber was a far-cry from its 83-year-old mandate.

How do we know this? One, we see break-away  associations: Kacita, Uganda Manufacturers Association, Export Promotion Board, Private Sector Foundation. All these are a result of a chamber of commerce that is not resurgent, not relevant in the marketplace.

If you look at trade and investment, they are not driving indigenous enterprise development and partnerships with foreign investors. So, I really thought there was an opportunity to serve, not because there is anything there, but because I can bring in something, my global business experience, my experience running a small company because SMEs are the majority.

If you were marooned on a desert island and given an opportunity to carry one individual or thing, what or who would you take?

Bible. (Proverbs 4:20-22)

Plays Loyalty by Marley Music

TRANSCRIPT: JOSEPH KIMBOWA.

New sentencing guidelines set for magistrates

Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:36
Chief Justice Bart Katureebe

The judiciary has issued sentencing guidelines for lower courts as a way to ensure uniformity and avoid erratic judgements in lower courts.

Chief Justice Bart Katureebe launched the guidelines on Friday at Kabira country club. The magistrates’ courts were left out in 2013 when sentencing guidelines for the High court, Court of Appeal and Supreme court were introduced by then Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki.

Currently, magistrates enjoy wide discretion in sentencing convicts. Katureebe contended that instituting sentencing guidelines in all lower courts will go a long way in building public trust.

“There are a lot of disparities because you find that one person commits rape and he gets 10 years,” he said. “Then another person commits the same crime but is given a bigger punishment. The public keeps on asking why this is so.”

Justice Katureebe explained that after convicting an accused person, it is the duty of the court to determine the appropriate sentence within the wide range of penalties available. According to him, they can range from a caution, to a fine, community service or incarceration.

“Judicial discretion is intended to ensure that the court imposes a sentence that fits the crime, taking into account the gravity of the offence, circumstances under which the offence was committed and the offender’s circumstances.”

However, Katureebe pointed out that judicial discretion in sentencing has sometimes been exercised inconsistently, leading to a public outcry and a perception of injustice in the administration of justice.

“It has been a common characteristic that the severity of a sentence imposed in a particular case depends upon the whims of the individual judicial officer,” he said.

“It is, therefore, important that sentencing guidelines are developed and routinely reviewed so as to assist in the proper determination of sentences within the criminal justice system, to promote consistency in sentencing and to make the reasons for particular sentences more transparent.”

Katureebe also noted that he has never sentenced any person. “Though I’m the chief justice, I have never sentenced any convict,” said Justice Katureebe, amid laughter. The chief justice joined the bench at Supreme court level, having previously served in government as attorney general.

“I might have confirmed a sentence or reduced a sentence but I have never sentenced a per- son because I sit at the Supreme court. I’m told it’s not an easy thing,” he said.

Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine warned magistrates to stop sentencing convicts basing on ‘moods.’

“There should be a logical way of arriving at these sentences,” he said. “You should write down reasons why you have given a person a particular sentence.”

Justice Bamwine, who heads the sentencing guidelines committee, clarified that the guidelines are going to affect non-capital offences such as theft, child neglect, arson and all offences triable in magistrates’ courts.

dkiyonga@observer.ug

Supreme Mufti advises on Muslim property

Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:28
Sheikh Kasule Siliman Ndirangwa

Supreme Mufti Sheikh Siliman Kasule Ndirangwa has advised Muslims to be steadfast and fend off what he has called ‘greedy’ leaders that habitually grab and sell Muslim property.

Speaking at the residence of Hajji Haruna Golooba in Buloba last Friday, Ndirangwa revealed that his office gets frequent reports about people shamelessly selling Muslim assets.

Golooba, who was celebrating his return from the holy pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, is a registrar of lands in the ministry of lands, housing and urban
development.

“We regularly receive perturbing reports of land grabbers who have made it a habit to sell Muslim property,” said Ndirangwa. “You should be vigilant and guard against such evil minds; these are shameless people who are looking to amass wealth by hook or crook.”

He advised that all information related to land titles meant for Muslims should be well- documented and kept by the trustees of respective areas. Ndirangwa also asked the ministry of lands staff in attendance to be honest whenever they conduct such sensitive work.

On his part, Hajji Golooba thanked Allah for being merciful to him and his family by blessing him with all the basics required in life. The function was attended by several Muslim clerics, especially those from Swafah Wal-Maruah, the group based at Wandegeya mosque.


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