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Updated: 8 min ago

‘Buganda caucus is not a tool of the NRM’

Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:19
Johnson Muyanja Ssenyonga

Last week, JOHNSON MUYANJA SSENYONGA, the MP for Mukono South, was elected chairperson of the Buganda caucus during a heated retreat at Ridar hotel in Mukono. He told Josephine Namuloki how he plans to revitalize the biggest regional grouping of MPs in parliament.

Why did you vie for the Buganda caucus chair?

It is an office which must be occupied by a MP representing members from Buganda region where I belong. I am a Muganda and I have the capacity to deliver, and I have been loyal to my kingdom. I think I can do some good work. 

There are arguments by some members within the caucus that it has become an NRM apparatus aimed at enhancing state power.

That is not true. I can tell you that we have two independent members and we have two members from DP [on the executive]. So, I don’t understand if someone comes out to say that [we are an apparatus of the NRM]. How can you come out and say that independents were not considered when the treasurer, David Kalwanga from Busujju, is an independent?

The only FDC MP that you have interviewed who is not interested in the activities of the caucus is [Mubarak Munyagwa] from Kawempe South. He is telling you he is not interested in these things.

I have never seen him. He was a mayor of Kawempe for five years but he did not champion Buganda interests. We are not here to force people to work with us; we are here to work with people who are willing and who are loyal to the kabaka. So, when we are in the caucus we work as Buganda MPs who are interested in serving Buganda.

Some people think that people seek leadership of the caucus as a strategy to position themselves for a ministerial appointment. Is this one of your ambitions?

We have seen many ministers [from other parts of the country].  Did they first become members of the executive of their caucuses before they were appointed ministers? The answer is no.

Therefore, if your chance is there to be a minster, what is wrong with that? You know that is where people go wrong. We are here to serve, whether we are made ministers or not. What I know is that all regions have caucuses and caucuses must have able leaders and I am one of the able leaders.

I have gathered experience in administration for over 18 years as a president of the association of mayors of Uganda, and as a president of town councils of Uganda. So, definitely, what can I say?

Buganda caucus comprises 105 MPs but about half of those members did not participate in the elections. Why is this so?

Many requested to vote by proxy because they were away but this was turned down. The ones from Kalangala had a function. Could you stop them from going to Kalangala?

Others from Lugazi had a function, but they all came and registered. And they even requested their ballots to be included but in order to avoid arguments, their ballots were left out.

What are some of the weaknesses of the previous caucus leadership?

There are no weaknesses I have seen so far. We are just here to add on where they stopped.

Where do you think the former caucus leadership of Buganda did well?

The majority of them [leaders] managed to bounce back as Members of Parliament; that means there was service delivery in their constituencies.

How do you intend to bring together some of the MPs within Buganda but who do not agree with the caucus objectives?

I haven’t come to know that we have such members who don’t agree but if they are there, we shall unite for a purpose. We cannot force all of them to attend the Buganda caucus functions. We cannot force all of them to contribute in case we have programmes or projects but we shall work with them.

You have to know that you cannot be a member of the caucus if you are not loyal to its ideas. You cannot be a member of Buganda caucus if you are not loyal to the kabaka or to the kingdom.

I thought the caucus constitution stipulates that all those representing areas within Buganda are automatic members.

They are all members and I haven’t seen anyone saying no. 

How will that benefit those places you visit?

Definitely you can know their concerns better. We are all MPs representing Buganda but don’t think that all MPs have taken time to travel to all the 18 masaza [counties] of the kabaka. Some may not know what is taking place in Bugerere.

While we are here, some may not know what is in Butambala, what is happening in Busujju and some cannot even locate where Busujju is. So, we shall have that opportunity. We are having a lot; we are going to have our first programme where we shall interact with the members of Lukiiko at Mengo.

We shall also have programmes that will bring us together to know one another as MPs like we are likely to have a football tournament for men and netball tournament for women.

Then later on, we can have a dinner to forge a way forward. The more we get to know one another, the more we are going to come up with good programmes. As the caucus, we want to be very involved in the process of formulating the national budget.

We are not going to wait after the national budget has been read and then we start fidgeting. We might have some good programs which may be incorporated in the national budget for the good of our people

Wolokoso: Delegate ‘rejects’ Museveni handshake

Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:07

While some delegates were scrambling to get a piece of President Museveni’s hand after he opened a conference in Entebbe last week, a delegate from Malawi appeared scared of him.

After Museveni had taken a group photo with the delegates and shaken the hands, he noted that one of them from Malawi was avoiding him.

So, he called her closer, extended his arm to greet her. But she declined the president's handshake, as our sequence of photographs shows. The woman is possibly a Muslim, going by her attire. In some Muslim cultures, women don’t shake men’s hands.


When did Anifa Kawooya become a ssenga?

During a meeting of the parliamentary commit- tee on Agriculture last week, Anifa Kawooya, the Sembabule Woman MP, made a sudden appearance.

As she tried to find a chair, some MPs started shouting: “Ssenga, ssenga, ssenga”. Soon after, the MPs started listing districts which should benefit from the Shs 3bn earmarked to buy relief food for hunger-stricken regions.

To Kawooya’s surprise and amazement, they started with Sembabule. Some MPs were heard saying that Kawooya is that MP who will get what she wants without any question.

She is a vice chairperson of the parliamentary forum on climate change and a member of Pan African Parliament. We don’t know where all this respect is coming from but as someone who has been MP for 15 years, she is certainly a senior.


Among’s red-carpet moment

Many of us would kill to travel on a presidential jet let alone walk on the red carpet. That is why Wolokoso is jealous that Anita Among (circled), the Bukedea Woman MP, last week achieved both feats when she accompanied President Museveni to Sudan.

According to the pictures released by the president’s press unit, as Museveni greeted dignitaries on the tarmac, Among was seen a few metres behind, exchanging pleasantries with other guests.

She walked on the red carpet, she grinning from ear to ear. Indeed, She was a portrait of the powerful woman she has become, a few months into her first term as MP.


Campaigns bring best, worst out of MPs

If you think political campaigns ended with the Febru- ary 2016 general elections, then you have certainly not been to parliament.

Recently when MPs that sub- scribe to the Parliamentary Forum on Food Security and Population Development converged to elect their executive, tempers flared.

The position that attracted stiff competition was that of secretary where three candidates: Betty Aol, the Gulu Woman MP; Elizabeth Karungi, the Kanungu Woman MP and John Bagoole, the MP for Luuka South, faced off.

When Aol stood down in favour of Bagoole citing the dominance of women on the forum’s executive, this left Karungi and Bagoole to tussle it out. Bagoole told the MPs to elect him because he is “portable and steadfast.”

But it was Karungi who amused the MPs when she rephrased Bagoole’s words and said: “Hon members, I am more portable and more steadfast.”

When a male legislator asked Karungi to prove that she is indeed “portable”, MPs burst into laughter. In the end, Karungi’s theatrics were not enough to give her victory. Bagoole took the day.


MP confuses colleagues over rules

Jacqueline Amongin, the Ngora woman MP, may be serving her second term in parliament but clearly she is still struggling to grasp the procedure of the House.

Last week, as the Kabarole woman MP, Sylvia Rwabwogo, tried to explain the tribal conflicts in Toro and Rwenzori sub regions, she was stopped in her tracks by William Nzoghu, the Busongora MP who rose on a point of procedure.

But before Nzoghu could elaborate his point, Amongin interrupted him and rose up on a point of order against a point of procedure.

This left many MPs confused. Sensing danger, Felix Okot Ogong, the Dokolo MP, quickly interupted Amongin and shouted: “Sit down, sit down.”

She sat down but some MPs were overheard wondering how a senior MP like Amongin does not know that a point of procedure takes precedence over a point of order.

Statement: Observer offices broken into

Mon, 10/17/2016 - 00:09

On the night of October 15, The Observer offices on Tagore Crescent, Kamwokya, were broken into and at least15 desktop computers, several laptops and other assorted items were stolen.

The cost of the theft and vandalism is still being assessed.

Only keyboards and mouse devices were left behind

Our offices are protected by a private security firm whose staff on the night, Charles Olupot, was not found at his station on the morning of October 16, with his gun abandoned in the compound.

A police team from Kira Road police station is working with The Observer management and officials from the private security firm to trace the person(s) responsible for this act and/or establish their motive.

MANAGEMENT

Leah Kagasa crowned Miss Uganda 2016/17

Sun, 10/16/2016 - 15:19

Leah Kagasa, a student of Marketing at Makerere Business School (MUBS) is the new Miss Uganda 2016/17.

Kagasa took the crown from Zahara Muhammad Nakiyaga after she was declared winner by the judges early today morning at Serena hotel beating off competition from the other 20 contestants.  

Nicholas Bamulanzeki captured some of the moments.

Miss Uganda 2016/17 Leah Kagasa soon after being crowned.

Leah Kagasa who hails from Tooro was crowned Miss Uganda 

Kagasa tries out her prize car Miss Uganda 2015/16 Zahara Muhammad Nakiyaga (R) after handing over the crown to Miss Uganda 2016/17 Leah Kagasa  Kagasa joined by the finalists

Busoga dare Museveni on poverty fight, offer him land

Sat, 10/15/2016 - 17:24

Often referred to by some as the 'headquarters of poverty in Uganda', Busoga has given 10 acres of land to President Yoweri Museveni to camp there and fight poverty out of the region.

The revelation was made by the minister for presidency also Luuka woman MP Esther Mbayo at the Global Hand Washing day celebrations held at Kamuli Boma grounds.

At the 54th independence day celebrations in Luuka last week, Museveni asked for land in Busoga to pitch camp and declare war on poverty. Museveni said the people of Busoga were poor just because they were too reluctant and ignorant of how they would use their rich soils to generate wealth.

"Your excellency I spoke to the district leadership of Mayuge and they gave u the 10 acres you asked for.  We therefore welcome you to Busoga so that you help us eradicate poverty," Mbayo said.

It was later established by The Observer that Museveni was given land in Kityerera sub-county, Mayuge where he camped in the 1980s during his bush war.

President Museveni (C) with speaker Rebecca Kadaga (R) and other leaders from Busoga region

Giving his keynote address, Museveni thanked the people of Busoga for the land given to him. He said he would use it to establish demonstration gardens which will help so much in teaching people how to go about commercial farming.

He later warned Ugandans to stop using their right hands to eat food if u can't regularly wash hands. Museveni advised the listening crowd to always use the left hand which he says is always cleaner.

He explained that the right hand which is often used in shaking, is ever dirty and not good enough to use while eating especially when you have not washed it with soap.

"Me, when I am greeting Ugandans, I use the right hand. It is for all of Ugandans but this left hand is mine, I use it to eat," he said.

"But if u just use your hand any how and you don't regularly wash them, you end up contracting diseases," he added.

The president also urged Ugandans to always keep their nails short.

"If we do that we prevent around 47% deaths," he said

Museveni also urged the people of Busoga to refrain from dividing their land into small plots to give to their children.  He said this was one of the major causes of poverty in the region.

"Because if a man had 3 acres of land and 6 sons they will get a half an acre each.  A half an acre is too small to help someone in a rural setting get out poverty. Land should remain communal. Encourage your children to work and acquire their own land," he said

Funded by the ministry of water, the function was hosted by the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga who invited the president as chief guest.

Deputy speaker Oulanyah opposed to term limits

Sat, 10/15/2016 - 15:22

The deputy speaker of parliament Jacob Oulanyah has said using the law to stop a leader from seeking election takes away the mandate granted by the people of that country. The will of the people on how they should be governed should be respected, he says. 

Oulanyah made the remarks while debating the report of the committee on political affairs on constitutional limits. The report was presented at a joint meeting of the African, Caribbean and Pacific-European Union (ACP-EU) Joint Parliamentary Assembly at the EU parliament in Brussels, Belgium on Thursday.

"Let the people determine how they want to be governed. This should be respected and not be superintended by external forces,” he said.

Oulanyah added that the argument that sitting presidents cannot be removed through elections is also not sustainable as seen by changes in many African countries.

‘There are several countries where incumbents have been removed without using the law. It has been through the general will of the people. If the constitution says that the population wants term limits, that is the view, and if not, so be it,” he stated.

Deputy speaker Jacob Oulanyah of parliament (3rd right) addressing the assembly

Fitz Jackson from Jamaica also said that if it is the will of the people to have a leader for more years, this will should not be denied or suppressed.

‘We have to be careful that while we need to insulate against dictatorships, we should not cause the will of the people to be suppressed,” he said.

Fitz suggested that if there is a change in constitutional terms, the sitting president should not be a beneficiary of that change but the one who comes after.

‘There is need to ensure that people from respective countries have the will of constitutional amendments and mitigate against the danger of sitting leaders perpetuating their leadership,” he added.

The report of the committee states that there is an emerging trend where constitutional provisions are being reversed with attempts to drop term limits in many countries.

The report identifies use of a weak judiciary to creatively interpret term limits, use of the legislature to extend time in power beyond the mandated tenure without abolishing term limits and abolishing of term limits through referenda or parliament. The committee however, adds that the citizenry of a country should judge the legitimacy of its president.

“The growing consciousness of civil society of the need to strengthen the democratic culture through effective and fair political competition implies an increasingly important rejection of the life presidency model with a recent survey revealing that 75 percent of Africans prefer terms limits,” the report concludes.

3 lecturers, 15 students arrested over Kabale varsity strike

Sat, 10/15/2016 - 01:57
The students

Police is holding 18 people including 3 lecturers and 15 students for allegedly masterminding today’s strike at Kabale University.

The lectures who were arrested are; Emmanuel Nkundizana, the chairperson for Kabale University academic staff, Annet Tusiime Mutatiina and Aidah Sunday. Some of the arrested students include, Nicholas Byonanebye, Jimmy Kabazi, George Kabinga, Clair Owayezu and Juan Musinguzi among others.

The strike started when students attempted to attack the academic registrar. They wanted the registrar to explain why they have not had lectures since the beginning of the new semester on September 15. Lecturers at the same university have been protesting the failure by the university administration to clear their 8-month salary arrears.

The students also attempted to raid the vice chancellor Prof Joy Kwesiga’s office saying he is not fit to be in office. The students were also protesting the sorry state of the university toilets.

Police fired tear gas to disperse angry students. Moments later, they descended on Kabale district headquarters demanding the intervention of the resident district commissioner (RDC) into their issues from where they were arrested by anti-riot police and taken to Kabale police station.

Henry Kisembo, a field force unit commander for Kabale district, says that they had no problem with the students expressing their grievances, but that they were becoming unmanageable.

Prior to their arrests, Nicholas Byonanebye, one of the students said that they wanted the RDC to help them convey their dissatisfaction with the administration to President Museveni.

Kigezi regional police spokesperson Elly Maate said the arrested individuals had defied orders to remain peaceful. Maate adds that police will remain deployed at the university until calm is restored.

Kabale deputy RDC Denis Nzeirwe says that although students and lecturers have issues with the university administration, they have used wrong method of expression. He however adds that district officials will sit with the university administration to address the grievances.

Kabale University deputy vice chancellor (academics), Allen Babugura, declined to comment on the matter. She is the only administrator who was at the university at the time of the incident.

Sarah Ayebare, a student at the university accuses Prof Kwesiga of maladministration. She says that the university should refund their money since they are not ready to teach them.
 
“And it is now two months so far, I paid their tuition during the holidays but I don’t why they are just here. Even in holidays they refused to mark our exams…we no longer want her, she has mismanaged the funds with some of the administrators including the vice chancellor”, she said.

3 Chinese nationals killed in Luweero accident

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 21:29

Three Chinese nationals are confirmed dead following a motor accident along Kampala-Gulu highway.

The accident occurred at Ndibulungi village, in Butuntumula sub-county, Luweero district at 9:30pm last night.

Savannah region police spokesperson Vincent Ssekatte says the accident occurred when a Kampala bound a Toyota Premio, registration number UAZ 002B carrying four Chinese nationals rammed into a Fuso truck registration number UAK 480W.

At the time of the accident, the Premio was driven by a Ugandan driver, whose whereabouts remain unknown. Ssekatte says two Chinese nationals died on spot while the third died at Kiwoko hospital moments after arrival. One other is still admitted with serious injuries.

One of the victims was identified as Yang Yiyo. The other two were identified only as Wu and Chuliu. Their bodies have been taken to Mulago hospital mortuary.

Ssekatte says police in still hunting for a yet to be identified Ugandan driver, who fled into hiding after the tragedy. He attributed the accident to reckless driving. The wreckage has been towed to Luwero central police station.

UPDF soldiers camp at Gen Sejusa’s home

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 13:41
Gen David Sejusa

Outside Gen David Sejusa’s home in Naguru, a Kampala suburb, more soldiers have been deployed. The soldiers are camped in about 10 tents.

The Observer has learnt from a security source that when Sejusa was still in Luzira prison, the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Gen Kabumba Wamala ordered the deployment of a few soldiers inside his compound. But after he was released on bail on April 1, 2016, President Museveni ordered a reenforcement.

“When the commander-in-chief [President Museveni] got information linking Sejusa after his release to mobilizing youths to do suspect, sinister activities, he ordered for more deployment at his residence. He also ordered close surveillance of his movements,” the source said.

On January 31 this year, Gen Sejusa was arrested and arraigned before the General Court Martial on charges of insubordination, participating in activities contrary to the UPDF Act and being away without official leave (AWOL).

When this writer visited Sejusa’s residence on Wednesday morning, there were 10 army tents, five on each side of the gate outside the compound. At the gate, one bodyguard came out. When this writer asked to speak to the general, the bodyguard said it is no longer easy to see Sejusa without an appointment.

“Things have changed these days. You must first call him and when he allows you to come, he will inform those soldiers over there,” the bodyguard said, pointing to the more than 10 soldiers outside.

Sejusa couldn’t pick his calls nor respond to this writer’s phone messages. Interviewed on Wednesday, Sejusa’s lawyer David Mushabe confirmed more soldiers have been deployed at his client’s residence.

“Gen Sejusa had no problem with the few soldiers inside his compound though he knew they were spying on him but when their leader began misbehaving by disturbing his maids, he asked me to complain to higher army authorities, which I did. I convinced them to put these soldiers outside his residence. But the number [of soldiers] is increasing every passing day…,” Mushabe said.

A security officer who declined to be named said in an October 12 interview that President Museveni decided to deploy after getting information that Sejusa was using his residence as a base to recruit and ferry youths to unknown destinations to carry out suspicious activities.

A confidant of Sejusa confirmed this allegation but added: “I don’t think the information the army gets is true but because Sejusa is part of the intelligence system, he also gets counter intelligence information from some of the people trailing him and this is the reason why he is comfortable with the presence of these soldiers as longer as he is allowed to move freely here in the country and abroad.”

Some boda boda riders stationed near Sejusa’s home said on October 12 that more soldiers began arriving last Friday. Sejusa tweeted about the deployment on October 11, saying that soldiers had surrounded his house.

His confidant said the general, who is a former coordinator of intelligence services, is annoyed with, among other things, the sentencing of six of his former aides in July this year. They were found guilty by the General Court Martial of offences related to plotting to overthrow the government.

The six who have since appealed to the General Court Martial of Appeal are: Corporal Grace Nasasira, Corporal Geoffrey Karuhanga, Private Frank Ninsiima, James Karuhanga Nayebare, Moses Kakarugahi Nuwagaba and Abel Twinamatsiko.

“Sejusa is angry with the army court for sentencing the six youths accused of mobilizing for him soldiers to overthrow the government when he himself was not accused of the same offence and other high-ranking soldiers mentioned in police statements,” the confidant said.

Asked to comment, army spokesman Lt Col Paddy Ankunda sent a message saying “I’m busy can’t talk to you now.”

slubwama@observer.ug

Kasiwukira ruling leaves lawyer scratching his head

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 13:12
Acquitted: Sarah Nabikolo

Justice Wilson Masalu Musene's ruling on Wednesday brought relief and joy for Sarah Nabikolo, the widow, who was acquitted of murdering her husband Eria Bugembe Ssebunya aka Kasiwukira in 2014.

Her co-accused Sandra Nakungu, Nabikolo's cousin and Jaden Ashraf, a police officer, got 20 years in prison. A review of the judgment by DERRICK KIYONGA points out the unanswered questions that still linger.

Nakungu’s lawyer Nsubuga Mubiru told the judge during the mitigation session that he found it strange that he convicted his client but let go her cousin Nabikolo. Mubiru told the judge that it wasn’t plausible that Nakungu was acting alone without instructions from Nabikolo.

“This judgement,” Nsubuga started, “leaves a lot of doubt if at all my client is guilty; that’s why my client should be given a lenient sentence.” 

The lawyer argued that that since Justice Musene had decided to acquit Nabikolo, he should have let Nakungu walk free as well. Mubiru took that line of argument because prosecution led by Senior Principal State Attorney Alice Muhangi Kawuka and Principal State Attorney Samali Wakhooli had built their case around the  fact that there was a “common intention” among the three to kill Kasiwukira. So, basically, Mubiru was saying that Justice Musene had either to acquit or convict all of them.

“When he was assessing the evidence in regard to my client, he said it was strong,” Mubiru said. “But when he was assessing the same evidence in regard to Nabikolo, he turned around and said it was weak.”

In letting Nabikolo off the hook, Justice Musene reasoned that prosecution had failed to connect her to the murder.

“No witness was able to put accused three [Nabikolo] at the scene of the crime and there is no evidence to show that she participated in the meetings to kill the deceased,” the judge said.  

FINANCING?

In the ruling, the judge resolved two questions. On who owned the killer vehicle, he said it was Nakungu. And Jaden, he said, drove the killer vehicle. But in letting Nabikolo walk, questions about who financed the plot remained unanswered. Prosecution had maintained that Nakungu and Jaden were the foot soldiers as Nabikolo worked behind the scenes, providing the needed cash.

To prove that Nabikolo was the main financier, prosecution had presented the evidence of Richard Byamukama, a security operative. Byamukama testified that he was brought into the picture by his good friend Jaden who told him that “madam” was willing to give him Shs 30 million to kill Kasiwukira.

Police officer Ashraf Jaden (R) with co-accused Sandrah Nakungu

Byamukama said negotiations hit a snag when he demanded Shs 50 million. He said Jaden and Nakungu told him they would first consult “madam” on the sum and then revert. 

To qualify who the reference to “madam” meant, prosecution presented the evidence of Silver Habimaana, a boda boda cyclist, who once worked as a porter at Kasiwukira’s residence.

According to Habimaana, all the time he worked at Kasiwukira’s house, they used to refer to Nabikolo as “madam”.

Even in the recording tabled by prosecution, Jaden is heard telling Byamukama: “Madam wants the man dead because he wants to sacrifice his successor [first son].” 

But Justice Musene dismissed the notion that the “madam” the witnesses were referring to was Nabikolo.

“The inference of madam wasn’t enough,” Justice Musene said, “There is a lot of madams in Uganda. Anybody can be madam.”

MOTIVE

After the ruling, Mubiru questioned where his client Nakungu could get the motivation to kill Kasiwukira if at all Nabikolo wasn’t involved as Justice Musene ruled.

“The case was about motive,” Mubiru said. “So, where would Nakungu as a person get the motivation to kill the deceased? These are the things that remain unresolved,” Mubiru added.

Prosecution’s assertion that Nabikolo had the motive to kill her husband was premised on the fact that Kasiwukira got a mistress. Kawuka said this angered Nabikolo to the point of calling her brother-in-law John Bugembe Ggayi to intervene.

“Despite Ggayi’s intervention, the problem never went away; as a matter of fact, she [mistress] got pregnant again and this further angered [Nabikolo], this moved her to kill the deceased,” Kawuka had submitted.

However, Justice Musene ruled that Ggayi’s testimony created the benefit of the  doubt.

“Ggayi was very instrumental since he said that the relationship was very good until 2013 when the deceased got another woman,” Justice Musene said, adding, “but after Kasiwukira’s apology, things went back to normal since he even bought for Accused Three (Nabikolo) a house and a vehicle.”

The judge also bought into Nabikolo’s defence which was to the effect that although she was angered by Kasiwukira’s decision to get another woman, she had never attacked her.

WITCHCRAFT

On the prosecution’s claim that Nabikolo could have wanted to kill Kasiwukira because he worshipped the devil, the judge was silent. Again prosecution had relied on the evidence of Byamukama who said that in one of the many meetings with Nakungu, she told him it was Kasiwukira’s wife who wanted the businessman dead because he was going to sacrifice their first son.

In her defence, Nabikolo denied practising witchcraft. She said she is a committed born-again Christian and an Anglican. She said in the aftermath of Kasiwukira’s death, police searched her house and found no evidence of witchcraft. 

In his three-hour judgement, the judge ignored the issue of witchcraft completely. Asked on Thursday if his office will appeal, Mike Chibita, the director of public prosecutions, was non-committal.

“We have not got the judgement,” Chibita said, “Only after reading the judgement is when you can make a decision. You cannot appeal just for the sake of it.”

dkiyonga@observer.ug


MPs force Chinese to refund Shs 26.2 billion

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 12:54
Cosase chairman Abdu Katuntu and deputy Anita Amongi

Parliament’s committee on commissions, statutory authorities and state enterprises (Cosase) on Tuesday forced four Chinese companies to refund more than Shs 26.2 billion.

The Chinese firms had been contracted by the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) to build various road projects and received the money as an advance to compensate people affected by works on Musita-Lumino-Busia road, Kanoni-Sembabule-Villa Maria road and Olwiyo-Gulu road.

However, the firms diverted much of the money for their own interests. The committee discovered that some of the firms fixed the money in commercial banks to earn interest while others invested the money in their personal businesses.

So, parliament wants China Railway 18th Bureau Group Company Limited to pay Shs 14bn, China Railway No.5 Engineering Group Company Limited (Shs 8.4bn), Chongqing International Construction Corporation Shs 3.5bn and Zhongmei Engineering Group Shs 272.9m. On Thursday, the committee announced how they plan to get back the money.

“We intend to recover in total Shs 35.5bn….The balance of Shs 9.2bn is yet to be refunded by China Railway Group 5,” Katuntu said.

“Zhongmei group, which worked on the Olwiyo-Gulu road, made the compensations but we found out that its directors had used the money to do other business to make a profit. It is that profit that they made [Shs 272.7m] that we asked them to give to Unra,” Abdu Katuntu, the committee chairman, said.

These findings were triggered by the 2015 auditor general’s report which found that the contractors had failed to account for Shs 47.7bn advanced to them for compensations.

Some of the payment vouchers that the Chinese firms had presented as evidence of compensation proved that some of the beneficiaries had been paid as little as Shs 4,000.

To compel the Chinese to refund the money, the committee wrote to their bankers, notifying them of the decision to freeze the contractors’ bank accounts.

Some financial institutions such as Standard Chartered bank were quick to effect the MPs’ decision, causing panic among the Chinese contractors who sought Unra’s intervention.

For instance, on October 7, Zhongmei group’s project manager for Olwiyo-Gulu road project, Zhu Weidong, wrote to Unra’s contracts manager Apollo Lwanga asking for his assistance.

“We hereby write to provide you the following detailed information of two of our frozen accounts [in Standard Chartered bank]. We request for your assistance to reactivate the [accounts] as early as possible,” Zhu wrote.

ULTIMATUM

Zhu’s experience offered lessons for the other Chinese to rush and make the remittances before their banks effected the MPs’ directive. The exception was China Railway No.3 Engineering Group Company Limited, which had transferred all its money to China.

“The money on their accounts here is too little and what we have done is to recall their guarantor to recover the money. They have up to the close of business today [October 13] to refund the money,” Katuntu said.

“They must find the money because one of the companies that refunded the money got it back from China.”

Katuntu said the committee would not stop at getting the firms to refund the money but would go all the way to ensure that the officials behind the scam are brought to book.

“We are also thinking of asking the government to review its relations with these [Chinese] firms,” he said. He further promised to make another audit of the Shs 15bn that is said to have been paid out in the compensations.

Katuntu also blamed Unra for being lax on its monitoring role. He argued that if the roads authority had been keen, the loss would have been unearthed long before the auditor general stepped in. The Bugweri MP said the committee has adopted a new strategy of ‘recover, name and shame,’ in order to fight the theft of public resources.

sadabkk@observer.ug

Private member’s bill to limit election spending

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 12:39
Arua Woman MP Mourine Osoru campaigned alongside Museveni in Arua

At least one MP spent a mindboggling Shs 1bn to win his seat, according to a new report on the last election

A new survey has found that close to Shs 25 billion was spent by just 113 members of parliament during the February parliamentary elections. The report released in Kampala yesterday by the Alliance for Campaign Finance Monitoring (ACFIM), a non- governmental election watch organisation, found that 113 MPs out of 185 MPs surveyed spent Shs 24.7 billion.

There are about 432 MPs in the 10th parliament. Henry Muguzi, the ACFIM national coordinator, presented the findings conducted between September 16 and October 7, 2016.

On average, NRM MPs interviewed spent Shs 233 million, Shs 187 million for opposition MPs and Shs 189 million for independent MPs, according to the report.

Muguzi said the highest declared spending by a single candidate was Shs 1billion while the lowest was Shs 10 million. The report does not, however, name the MP who spent Shs 1billion.

The report has galvanized critics of commercialized politics and prompted a group of MPs headed by Fort Portal municipality MP Alex Ruhunda to come up with a private member’s bill that will seek to limit the amount of money a presidential and parliamentary candidate can spend in an election.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Ruhunda said cash politics has hindered progressive and credible leaders from joining politics and ‘crooks’ with money are having a field day.

“We are losing so many good people who cannot afford the commercialized politics,” Ruhunda said. He added that he and a group of more than 50 MPs have already written to parliament’s director for legal affairs and the legal committee to draft a bill that will put a ceiling on how much a candidate can spend in an election.

He noted that commercialization of politics has also contributed to the formation of propaganda youth organizations with the sole aim of being bought for electioneering purposes hence depriving the country of capable people who can engage in meaningful economic activities.

“We went through nasty experiences during elections because our relationship with the voters is about money. If this trend continues, we are doomed,” Ruhunda said. “It is total madness and for one to spend one billion shillings. Such people must be investigated to know the source of these funds.”

Muguzi said parliament is now dominated by opportunists, businessmen and brokers because they can afford to finance the election.

“Countries are governed on laws and policies; therefore, we need these laws that will level the playing field so that we get leaders who have the country’s interests at heart,” Muguzi added.

Andrew Omalla, the spokesperson for the Jimmy Akena-led UPC faction, put blame on the individual merit system that the NRM propagated before 2005. The system, he said, denied political parties the ability to influence politics. He said that individuals within parties are far stronger than the parties they belong to.

“The report doesn’t capture the real cause of commercialization of politics. Political parties are supposed to look for funds to finance the elections but they are too weak to do that,” he noted. “Individual merit that the country was subjected to for a long time bred greed which created the problems we are still going through up to now.”

Crispy Kaheru, the coordinator of the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), criticized voters for freely selling their votes.

“In the recent elections, I was in Rubanda as an election observer and voters there refused to vote because they were waiting for the candidates to pay them. Money in politics has now become an international disaster.” he said.

Cissy Kagaba, the executive director of Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU), said such expenditures undermine democracy. She said leaders elected into political office now seek personal interests and work towards recouping what they spent during campaigns.

“Commercialization of politics has deprived Ugandans of capable leaders in Parliament. It results into demand for higher pay by legislators since they want to recover their money spent on campaigns,” she said.

The findings come hot on the heels of an earlier report released by ACFIM on campaign financing. It detailed funds spent by presidential candidates during the 2016 campaigns.

President Museveni reportedly spent Shs 27 billion, Amama Mbabazi spent Shs 1.3 billion and Dr Kizza Besigye spent Shs 976 million. Prof Venansius Baryamureeba spent Shs 95.7 million, Dr Abed Bwanika Shs 34.3 million while Joseph Mabirizi spent Shs 26.4 million.


Entebbe expressway rock owner threatens to sue Unra

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 12:31

Pius Mugerwa Mugalaasi, the owner of the disputed rock along the Kampala-Entebbe expressway, has threatened to sue Uganda National Roads Authority for refusing to compensate him.

Last month, Unra told The Observer that it had changed the course of the road, skirting around the rock and that it would now pay Shs 4bn in compensation to several people instead of the Shs 34bn the two rock owners were awarded by the chief government valuer.

But Mugalaasi, proprietor of Omega Construction and Ivys hotel, told us recently that Unra might end up paying more than they are telling the public. He said Unra will have to pay for a new design, which in his estimation might cost about $3 million, and that the contractor will demand up to $600,000 daily for delays occasioned.

“People were calling me asking why I was blocking the road construction,” Mugalaasi lamented.
“What I want people to know is the truth; I was not selling the land, I did not call them [Unra],” he said, adding that he bought the land way before anyone could know that a major road would pass there.

The rock obstructing the expressway 

“Whether it is five years, they [Unra] will pay,” he said in reference to court action, which he said he had taken but was unwilling to share with us any details.

“I will not get my payment from newspapers,” said Mugalaasi who added that he gave up his land in 2012 when Unra gazzetted it and took his titles.
“It is them who came and said we want to use your land,” Mugalaasi told The Observer this week. “I did not give the value for the rock and land. It is the government valuer who gave the valuations.”

The disputed rock, which has caused a delay in the construction of the expressway, is located at Nalumunye, Wakiso district, and is jointly owned by Mugalaasi and Godfrey Genza of Kogodo Feeds Ltd.

Government valuer Gilbert Kermundu put each one’s share at Shs 17bn, with total valuation coming to Shs 34bn. Speaking to The Observer at his Ivys hotel, Wakaliga, Mugalaasi said: “Once they gazzetted my land, they took it out of my hands. They have my titles and [court] will decide the next course of action.”

However, in an earlier interview, Norah Njangali, Unra’s head of land acquisition, denied that the authority was in possession of the rock owners’ land titles.
Njangali said the rock owners were fully aware of the new processes.

“There is no process of ours they didn’t know about. We have had meetings with them. They know everything,” she said, adding, “We do not have their titles and we will not be compensating the rock.”

But Mugalaasi says he has not been informed about the new arrangements. He also disclosed that he owns land in Mbalala, Mukono, which he bought in 1991, and yet it happens to be located in the way of the standard gauge railway project.

He owns yet another piece of land in Kirinya, where the Southern bypass is expected to pass. The businessman wondered why people would think that he influenced someone or bought this land in speculation if he got compensated for these properties.

amwesigwa@observer.ug

Handouts can't end poverty, says researcher

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 12:19

Injecting money into savings associations without sensitizing beneficiaries can’t get Ugandans out of poverty, a senior researcher has said.

David Okwi, a senior programmes officer at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), says if government aims to improve household incomes, it needs to engage beneficiaries first.

IDRC largely funds non-governmental organizations’ research projects. He was speaking at a workshop organised by Advocates Coalition on Development and Environment (ACODE) held at Protea hotel.

Okwi added that initiatives such as the Women’s Fund and the Youth Livelihood program require that government engages stakeholders and beneficiaries to find out what works best for them.

“We need to think about intervention, and not money. The Women’s Fund will not go far because we haven’t prepared ourselves. Government needs to engage stakeholders and all participants like the youth before giving them money,” he said.

Okwi further said ongoing self-help initiatives will not achieve much because government did not set up strong evaluation and monitoring measures.  

The workshop, an initiative to research about how to support rural women in finding business opportunities, was launched by IRCD in partnership with ACODE.

Arthur Bainomugisha, the executive director of ACODE, said they mooted the idea of supporting rural women because they are the backbone of the country’s economy. He noted that not only will they do research but they will also help in capacity building through engaging the women in financial literacy.
The two-year pilot study will be carried out in Soroti, Mukono and Mbarara districts based on a sample of 300 participants.

Uneb cancels results for 1,067 O-level candidates

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 12:00
Daniel Nokrach Odongo

Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) has cancelled examination results of 1,067 O-level students after a long investigation by its security committee.

The students, whose results were cancelled, are from 17 schools. They sat their Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) exams last year. Uneb also withdrew examination centre numbers of three schools for two years.

In an interview with The Observer at Uneb offices in Ntinda yesterday, Daniel N. Odongo, the Uneb executive secretary, said the affected students and schools were given a fair hearing by the committee.

“There are some students who were found with chits in their pockets while others were caught copying from one another in the examination rooms. We are also sure that even the school management was in complicity,” Odongo said.

“These are all offenses that lead to cancellation of results,” he said.

Results of at least 2,060 candidates from 86 examination centres had been withheld on suspicion of malpractices. The three schools whose centres were withdrawn and candidates’ results cancelled are, Loretoh SS (104 candidates) in Mukono, Mivule SS Bukakata (44) in Masaka, and Booma International School in Mbarara (40).

Odongo said candidates at Loretoh SS were assisted in several subjects while the other two schools had all their candidates’ results cancelled. The board also warned 14 schools that their centres may be withdrawn for a long time if they engage in exam malpractice again. Results of their candidates were cancelled too.

The schools include Wakiso Muslim SS in Kakiri, Budinse Memorial School in Bulo, Kazo Hill College Kawempe and Lake Albert SDA SS in Kagadi. Odongo also officially announced the start of written UCE exams this Friday with the briefing of candidates. Writing of exams begins on Monday, October 17 till November 23.

Some 323,129 candidates from 3,453 examination centres have registered for the exams this year compared to 314,569 candidates in 2015.

Over the past three weeks, visiting examiners have been conducting practical tests in subjects such as Home Science and Music, and oral tests in French and German languages.

Odongo appealed to head teachers to personally conduct the briefing sessions of candidates, and strongly warned heads of centres, parents and candidates against any acts of malpractice or irregularities during the examinations.

nangonzi@observer.ug

More Ugandans apply for technical education

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 11:55

More Ugandans are applying to join technical and vocational education institutions, Dr Wilfred Nahamya, the deputy executive secretary of the Uganda Business and Technical Examinations Board (UBTEB) has said.

Dr Nahamya said currently there are more than 77,000 students applying to join technical institutions.

This is almost a fourfold increment from about 20,000 admitted five years ago, and a twenty-fold increment from the 4,000 students that were in technical institutions by 2008. He said the trend is a clear indication that the sector is gaining irreversible momentum.

It is aided by the change in attitude among Ugandans, who until recently looked at vocational and technical education as second-class education, and a shortcut for failures in the main-stream education cycle.

Education minister Janet Museveni (L) releasing last year's UBTEB results

Dr Nahamya said Ugandans still need to appreciate and embrace technical and vocational education because of its skills orientation approach, the only way to address Uganda’s unemployment problem.

He said more emphasis is now put on equipping learners with skills and competencies that will help Uganda achieve its human resource needs in irrigation technologies, sports skills development, beef production, hides and skins processing, dairy and textile production, among others.

Nakaseke teacher held over theft of Shs 1.6m UPE funds

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 04:12
The teacher allegedly embezzled Shs 1.6m of UPE funds

Police in Nakaseke is holding a teacher of Singo Army primary school for allegedly stealing Shs 1.6m of Universal Primary Education (UPE) funds of his former school.

The suspect is Martin Kirunda was picked up this morning from Biva Guest House in Luweero town council and transferred to Kiwoko police station in Nakaseke. Kirunda was arrested by Nakaseke deputy resident district commissioner, Africano Aharikundira following complaints that he had illegally withdrawn Shs 1,625,000 from Biduku primary school account at Stanbic Bank, Luweero branch.
 
The funds were disbursed by government for running the school. Kirunda was the head teacher of Biduku primary school before he was demoted and transferred to Singo Army Primary School as classroom teacher in August this year.

Aharikundira says that Kirunda forged a resolution of Biduku school management committee on September 24 and used it to withdraw money from the school account.

According to the RDC, the school authorities were surprised how Kirunda accessed the money yet they changed the signatories to the school bank account on September 6, 2016. Justus Asiimwe the Nakaseke district police commander confirmed the arrest.

According to Asiimwe, the suspect faces charges of embezzlement and neglect of duty since he was picked from a bar when he should have been at school. Charlson Peace, the head teacher Biduku primary school was unreachable by phone.

Steven Batanudde, the Nakaseke district education officer asked for more time to respond to the matter. The arrest of Kirunda comes a few days after a report by the Luweero district Public Accounts Committee implicated 12 head teachers for alleged failure to account for over Shs 42m disbursed under the Universal Primary and Secondary Education Programme for FY 2013/14.

The implicated head teachers are from Luweero Seed School, Kasana S.S, Wobulenzi UMEA, Nyimbwa C/U, Kibula RC, Naluvule R/C, Zinunula St, Theresa Nadere Girls, Kabanyi, Nakakano, Katuumu and Sambwe Orthodox Primary school.

The Luweero deputy chief administrative officer, Christopher Oketayot says he is still studying the report before taking appropriate action against the implicated head teachers.

Legislator spent Shs 1 billion on campaigns

Thu, 10/13/2016 - 18:26

An unnamed MP in the 10th parliament spent Shs 1bn in the last parliamentary campaigns, a new survey by Alliance for Campaign Finance Monitoring (ACFIM) reveals.

The survey by ACFIM, an election watchdog states that Shs 24.7bn was spent by 113 MPs out of 185 MPs interviewed recently. There are more than 400 legislators in the Uganda’s parliament.

Henry Muguzi, ACFIM national coordinator, presented the findings conducted by telephone between September 16 and October 7, 2016. The findings indicate that the mean expenditure for NRM MPs interviewed is Shs 233m, Shs 187m for opposition MPs and Shs 189m for independent MPs.

Muguzi says that the highest declared spending by a single candidate was Shs 1bn while the lowest was Shs 10m. The report does not however state which area the MP who spent Shs 1bn comes from.

"This report indicates that elective politics in Uganda has been commercialized and that credible people are scared of joining elective politics," Muguzi notes.

Opposition MP Ssemujju Nganda and wife during the campaigns

Cissy Kagaba, the executive director of Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) says that such expenditures undermine democracy. She adds that leaders elected into political office now seek personal interests and work towards recouping what they spend during campaigns.

"Commercialization of politics has deprived Ugandans of capable leaders in parliament. It results into demand for higher pay by legislators since they want to recover their money spent on campaigns" Kagaba says.

The report comes on the heels of an earlier report released by ACFIM on campaign financing detailing funds spent by presidential candidates during the 2016 campaigns.

NRM presidential candidate Yoweri Museveni spent Shs 27bn, Amama Mbabazi spent Shs 1.3bn, Kizza Besigye spent Shs 976m, Prof Venansius Baryamureeba Shs 95.7m, Dr Abed Bwanika Shs 34.3m and Joseph Mabiriizi Shs 26.4m.

Cholera: 3 admitted at Lacor hospital in Gulu

Thu, 10/13/2016 - 17:54

Three people are being treated at St Mary's Lacor hospital in Gulu district following a cholera outbreak in the area.

Dr Emmanuel Ochola, head of department of research and documentation says two of the patients tested positive for cholera while the third came to the hospital while already on treatment for the disease.

“They presented with complaints of diarrhoea, extreme lots of diarrhoea. We have now had three patients from Elegu. There was a male child of five years and that one came with the mother and both were sick. And then there is the third one who came a few days later on the [October] 10th - a male child of 14 years old.

We have admitted them in isolation ward because of the nature of the diarrhoea, the suspicion of possible cholera but we also got laboratory confirmation that this is cholera”, said Dr Ochola.

The three are residents of Bibiya village in Elegu parish, Atiak sub-county in Amuru district. A mother and her child were the first to be admitted on October 5 while the other is a 14-year-old boy taken to the hospital on October 10.

They came from neighbourhoods of camps for South Sudan refugees where few other cases were reported in September. Dr Ochola says the three cases responded to treatment very well in the hospital's well-equipped isolation ward. He says the disease can best be prevented by good hygiene practices including washing hands after visiting latrines.

“We had to talk to the people providing food for example around the hospital to improve the hygiene. But a more important intervention has been to engage the district immediately; we called the district within a day upon realising that we had a problem. We called the district and the RDC’s office, chairman, the LC5’s offices because these are the members of our epidemic committee if there is an outbreak. So, they are aware, the health team has met while for us we are trying to strengthen the community reach with health information”, he added.

“Cholera is generally an infection of the small intestine. Most of the time it presents as diarrhoea…it occurs primary by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the cholera organisms. Practically, it means you have eaten faeces or you have eaten food or water that has been contaminated, or that is from an infected person.

The issue is really safeness of food, water, and good hygiene. 2-4 year-olds have the highest rates of infection but people with lower immunity like HIV/Aids [patients], malnourished children can more likely experience it. But really, it doesn’t occur anyhow. So when you get an outbreak then most of the people in the surroundings become at risk”

Ochan John Bosco, the Atiak sub-county councillor says the disease broke out in refugee camps in mid September.  There is fear the disease is spreading outward with new cases reported outside UN Refugee reception centres.

MPs flock banks for vehicles money

Thu, 10/13/2016 - 04:20

Members of parliament today, Wednesday made a mad dash around town to their respective banks following media reports that the parliamentary commission had wired Shs 43.2bn to their accounts.

The reports indicated that Shs 100m had been deposited on the account of each legislator. The money is part of the Shs 150m each MP is entitled to for the vehicle purchase to facilitate their movements to their constituencies.
 
The reports excited the legislators who dashed to their respective banks to ascertain whether they had received the money on their accounts.
 
Margaret Mbeiza, the Kaliro Woman MP, says she checked with her bank but didn't find the money. According to Mbeiza, she urgently needs the money to purchase a vehicle to facilitate her work in the constituency.
 
 “We’ve not received any money; as I talk now am from the bank [and] that’s Housing Finance bank. I have talked to the chief accountant, they have not released any money and that is why you are seeing members of parliament languishing in Kampala city. We cannot access our constituents because we don’t have transport…this recess we’d have used it to go and talk to our constituents and find out their problems but now we’re handicapped, we’re tied up”, she said.

Francis Mwijukye, the Buhweju county MP accused the executive for blackmailing parliament, saying that even the accountant of parliament isn't aware of the said money.
 
“If the accountant of parliament doesn’t know about the money, the members of parliament have not received any money and then there is information out there [that] money has been given members of parliament [then] government is blackmailing parliament.

Medard Sseggona (Busiro East) also said he hadn't received the money on his account.
 
 “Am not even aware any member of parliament has received that money. But it is not obscene; it is not immoral to receive facilitation to do my work. I don’t want Ugandans to be tempted to take it that way”

 Kilak South MP Gilbert Oulanya said none of the colleagues he asked had received the money.
 
“And when I ask other members of parliament whose names start with letter ‘A’ because I thought maybe they were paying alphabetically none has received any money. As I speak now everywhere in the villages people are calling us ‘please give us some money, please pay my debts", he said.

Other legislators who checked with their banks for the vehicle grants include Apollo Katinti (Kyandondo East), Joshua Anywarach (Padyere county) and their Nansana municipality MP, Nsereko Wakayima.

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