A Kenyan gold dealer has written to President Museveni accusing senior security officers of complicity in conning him and his colleagues to the tune of Shs 800m.
Richard Musumba, in a 22-page statement written on September 30, chronicles how he and his two Kenyan colleagues lost more than $240,000 (Shs 801m) to “a well-organized transnational and ruthless gang.”
Musumba accuses Taban Amin, the deputy director general of the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) in charge of West Nile Affairs, of complicity in conning him. The Kenyan told The Observer on Saturday that he chose to write to Museveni after failing to get assistance from all the security agencies.
“He [president] appears to be the only authority who can handle this...we have run here and there for help and failed to get helped...it is such a funny mess and the people doing it are doing it with impunity,” Musumba said.
Musumba says the gold-stealing racket, which includes Ugandans, Rwandese, Kenyans, Congolese and Somalis, targets smelting houses in Kampala. Indeed, Musumba and his colleagues have extended the search for the men who stole their gold in Kampala on October 24, 2015 to Rwanda where alleged suspects Benald Kama Kashama, said to be Congolese, and Antoine Nkusi, a Rwandese, are said to be living.
“They accost you by blocking your car with theirs, then finalize the robbery by taking everything in your possession,” Musumba wrote.
The robbery is reported to have transpired at Rahim Miners and Gold Dealers on Bandali Rise, Bugoloobi, in Kampala, when armed men dressed in military uniform attacked the gold dealers just after smelting.
Musumba narrated: “Immediately we got out of the gate, I in the passenger front seat, [Albert] Ouma driving and Steven [Owino] at the back, I noticed a white double-cabin pick-up parked about 30 meters away on our left on Bandali Rise. As we entered the road, turning right, toward Luthuli avenue, this pick-up started following us and put on its headlights on reaching Luthuli Avenue. We turned left and the double-cabin pick-up now sped, overtaking us. It was tinted and once the hind window lowered, a man in army uniform appeared, flagging us to stop.”
According to Musumba, the two vehicles stopped and the uniformed man holding a gun and an- other in plain clothes approached their vehicle. The man in plain clothes asked for car papers, introducing himself as a Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) official. However, Musumba says he just folded the customs papers he had been given and asked to search the car.
“We wondered why and got out of the car asking to go to police, then I noticed the army man attempting to open the boot (where the gold was kept). I confronted him, then he just headed for the driver’s area, attempting to get the keys out, a scuffle with Stephen ensued.”
The Kenyans say they fought off the attackers and challenged them to follow them to Jinja Road police station if they were not thieves. The Kenyans reached the station but the pick-up was nowhere to be seen.
After leaving Jinja Road police, where they say they were branded terrorists and put in cells, only to be rescued by Brig (rtd) John Mugyenyi, they took their gold to Kenya and eventu- ally Dubai where they were told on November 5, 2015 that the bars in their pos- session were not gold after all.
The Kenyan gold dealers returned to Uganda and re- ported a case of theft/fraud at CID headquarters.
“The matter was given case file GEF 852/2015. The commissioner of fraud/economic crimes, Mr Dabangi, is directing the investigations assisted by Inspector Byaruhanga and Constable Okello,” Musumba says in his statement.
To this day the gold dealers have not solved the puzzle of their lost gold.
“The investigation in Uganda showed that Kashama was in Kigali, Rwanda, and that is why my said colleagues are in Rwanda to assist in tracing the said Kashama. The case was reported to Kigali police station on 4th December 2015,” said Stephen Owino, one of the complainants, in a letter to the CID director, Rwanda.
In Rwanda, Kashama and Nkusi were apprehended but the Kenyans did not succeed in having them brought to Uganda. They were arraigned before court at Gasabo, about 30kms out of Kigali, and later freed. Turning their attention back to Uganda, Musumba sought answers from Taban Amin, who, interestingly, he has known for many years.
He claims the police are reluctant to move against the intelligence boss because of his profile. Asked to comment on these allegations on Saturday, Taban Amin admitted knowing Fahad Ibrahim aka Hajji Pacific, said to be the owner of the smelting house, but denied being part of any gold theft racket.
“I am not working with them but I know Hajji [Pacific]; in fact that is what I told [Musumba] when they came here to complain,” Amin told The Observer.
“Musumba is my friend, I got to know him when I was still living in the Congo, he is more of a family friend...” Taban added.
Hajji Pacific did not respond to our calls.
Musumba’s complaint comes weeks after Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Gen Katumba Wamala sus- pended Army MP Col Felix Kulayigye from his other job as UPDF political commissar over a separate gold deal gone bad.
Brenda Murungi, Kulayigye’s niece, claims she borrowed $48,000 (Shs 160.3m) from her uncle to buy gold but was conned at a gold smelting company in Ntinda, forcing her to ask the army officer for help.
The owner of the gold smelting house complained to the CDF that Kulayigye came with soldiers and ransacked his office, arrested his staff and took away some things, the basis for the army officer’s suspension. Kulayigye maintains his innocence.
Kampala Metropolitan police spokesman Emilian Kayima told The Observer that much as he had not seen the complaint, he doubted Musumba was telling the whole story.
“Maybe he is hurting, feeling that he has not been served right but I think he is not telling the whole story because the police can arrest anybody except the president,” Kayima said on Saturday.
Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has reiterated his appeal that the board of governors of Old Kampala Secondary School review or rescind the decision to lease school land to a bus company.
Lukwago phoned The Observer on Wednesday to express his concern that the story about the school land in the paper that day, above all its headline, had not aptly captured his position (see: Janet, Lukwago dragged in sale of school land).
In the said story, it was reported that the Old Kampala Secondary School board of governors had leased part of its land valued at Shs 10bn to Volcano Ltd at the cost of Shs 5m per month for four years.
It was further stated in the story that the tenancy agreement was drawn and signed by Chrysostom Katumba, one of the lord mayor’s partners at Lukwago & Company Advocates.
However, Lukwago maintained that he was not aware of the transaction and when he did learn of it, he put his objection in writing on October 4, 2016. In his letter to the chairman, board of governors, Old Kampala SS, Lukwago wrote:
“My office, however, has not been furnished with detailed information concerning the alleged transaction. I also take cognisance of the fact that Kampala Capital City Authority has no jurisdiction or authority over the matter in controversy, since the land belonging to that school is vested in Uganda Land Commission.”
The lord mayor, nevertheless, added that the matter was of concern to him and the public.
“However, we believe that matters involving alienation of public land or trust property, particular facilities of that nature are of great public concern. My office would not condone or acquiesce in any transaction involving selling or leasing of school property,” Lukwago continued.
“It’s on that premise that I implore the board of governors to sit and revisit or rescind the aforesaid transaction, if indeed it has been executed.”
Lukwago’s letter was copied to the area MP, executive director of KCCA, mayor of Kampala Central and head teacher of the school, among others. The issue came to light after Moses Kataabu, the KCCA councilor representing Kampala Central II, wrote to Janet Museveni, the minister of education and sports, urging her to intervene and stop the deal.
It’s not clear whether the minister has received the petition and what she plans to do about it. However, the school has defended itself saying the deal became necessary as it had no capacity to develop the land, which was now at risk of being grabbed by unscrupulous people.
Old Kampala SS also said once the decision had been taken by the board of governors and the Uganda Land Commission had agreed to change land use, notices were placed in the media from which two bidders emerged and one was selected.
The school added in a statement that the proceeds would be used to fence off the school to improve its security.
To deflect public criticism over the proposed Shs 200m car grants for MPs, the opposition Forum for Democratic Change Party is pushing for car loans instead. Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, the opposition chief whip, is the loudest advocate and promoter of the proposal that is unpopular among many MPs.
Recently, he explained to Baker Batte Lule the depth and rationale of his party’s proposal.
FDC MPs are rejecting your car loan proposal.
This is what you people in the media used to say, that [former premier and presidential candidate] Amama Mbabazi had taken FDC MPs yet what you called FDC MPs was just Beatrice Anywar and Nabilah Naggayi. In many of the stories I read, you are quoting Nabilah but she has opposed every single thing FDC has announced.
When we declared the defiance campaign, she said it was Ssemujju’s thing. The other MP equally quoted is Odonga Otto [Aruu county] who is my friend, but he’s a loose cannon who is well-known. So, you can’t judge compliance by singling out two FDC MPs.
FDC has more than 30 MPs. Speak to all of them and see if they will tell you they have refused to comply. It is also important to note that you went to speak to MPs before we briefed them. The decision was taken by a party organ at Najjanankumbi. We will have a meeting and speak to them. I’m hopeful they will understand. In fact, I have personally spoken to MPs, including those in NRM, and they want this proposal.
Why do you publicly announce a proposal before you discuss it with people it is going to affect?
We are an organ of the party that does not only serve the MPs but also the public. Internally, I was instructed to speak to the MPs and we will speak to them.
It is also important to note that MPs are not the end user. They and we as a party are there for the public. We are accountable to the public first, not to the MPs and ourselves.
The parliamentary commission where the opposition sits okayed the buying of MPs’ cars. Why then do you turn around and oppose it?
I don’t sit on the parliamentary commission but the leader of opposition does. But even if I did, you are there for a different role. Problem is, they will not bring minutes to show who disagreed or agreed with a matter and I think it is also bad manners for you to keep quiet and not tell people that on this one I disagreed because the parliamentary commission sits in confidence. I have represented the leader of opposition on two occasions and I can tell you there are disagreements.
Many people are saying this is a populist [proposal] because you are fronting it when MPs are about to get money to buy cars.
You see, the country is not ending tomorrow. Rwanda started that policy in February 2005 and revised it in 2013, but it is a policy. It does not matter when the policy starts. What matters is that now you have a policy that is inclusive and broader.
Will it affect the current arrangement?
It depends on how you take it. In Rwanda, when it was adopted, they first sold all government vehicles to those who were using them. I have said that if the policy is taken and we agree, even the money MPs are going to receive will be a loan and it doesn’t matter even if you received it 20 days ago. Once a policy has been made that it is a loan, that is what it will be.
Will this policy, good as it may be, see the light of day especially with a House dominated by NRM?
MPs are very happy; go and ask them, you will be surprised. They have been singled out and attacked as MPs. Yet ministers have vehicles of Shs 400m, resident district commissioners (RDCs), commissioners, chief administrative officers and the rest, all receive very expensive cars, but the public will never attack anyone [of them], they attack only MPs.
So, because ministers who are just 80 have such cars, even the over 400 MPs should have them too?
They are 80, yes, but each has got a vehicle of Shs 400m; go and do some maths and find out how much that is. They are also given a driver, fuel and maintenance.
Let me tell you, last year we spent Shs 200bn on vehicle maintenance yet the whole scheme of MPs’ cars will cost us [only] Shs 64bn. So, the problem is not the MPs’ vehicles but the country not having a policy. Even in retiring a vehicle, a permanent secretary will retire a vehicle and the one he has been using will be given to the commissioner and downwards.
I don’t think even government knows who is supposed to have a vehicle and who is not. That is why I’m saying no one should have a free vehicle; we need zero fleet. In Rwanda, there is no hiring of drivers, vehicle maintenance costs, and no fuel. But there is transport which is more efficient than it has ever been. There is no MP who will listen to this and not support it, I can assure you.
When are you tabling it?
It depends on the speaker but on Wednesday [October 12] I will apply to the speaker because I will be ready.
Some say you are pushing this because you and the leader of opposition already have free cars.
My proposal means that actually I will surrender my car. That is what it means, having zero fleet. What I have will go, the driver, the fuel, all will go.
How is this policy of yours going to work?
In Rwanda, it works very well. There are various categories. In some instances, they give you a vehicle tax-free and then you pay the total amount it costs. After three years, you take your vehicle but you use it for both public and private work because government will have contributed by removing tax.
People don’t abuse those vehicles like you see in Uganda where government vehicles are used to carry charcoal, goats, etc. When [President] Museveni had just come, he started what was called the motor vehicle co-ownership scheme. Government makes a contribution, you make a contribution, and it worked. The capitalist nature of a human being kicks in once something is free. They treat it the way they want.
For example, if you are a permanent secretary and your vehicle gets involved in an accident, they replace it immediately at no cost to you, then why drive it responsibly?
So for MPs, I’m going to liberate them and they are going to be very happy. Because the moment you debate parliament, you debate MPs, they become defensive but when you debate a policy, everyone will listen to understand what policy shift one is advocating.
Will people, let alone MPs, understand that this is about policy, and not them and their emoluments?
They will understand although it has come at the wrong time. But that is usually how policies shift. It has come at a time when the public is discussing only one aspect of public official transportation, which is parliament. But now I’m saying we should broaden it because actually there is more wastage than buying MPs’ vehicles.
Why has FDC taken this long to propose such a policy? Were you reacting to public anger or you’re genuinely concerned about the wastage?
No party should claim that it doesn’t listen to the public and I’m proud that FDC did. Once there is public uproar against something you must discuss it and then take a decision. You might initiate it or the public may force you to take a decision. There is absolutely no problem in us pandering to what the public say and we do it.
So you’re unapologetic to those calling you populists?
I don’t know of a politician who is not a populist. This business we are in is about being a populist; that is why we dance for people at rallies and also say things we cannot do.
That there is a politician who is not a populist; how did he/she look for votes, what did they say? Did he sit [back] and lock himself in the house and people voted for him? I have heard others say, my people asked me to stand; they never did. For me nobody asked me to stand, it was my personal decision. I went and marketed my candidature so I don’t see any contradiction in being populist.
What do you say of the Jobless Brotherhood who dumped piglets at parliament?
For us, we associate with peaceful demonstrations; we may not associate with every form. The one for the piglets, personally I don’t associate with it but their right to demonstrate is a right I will defend at all times. There must be a cutoff. Part of the MPs and the media personalize these issues.
They have asked me, ‘Ssemujju, will you take this vehicle? But I have told them that if they are distributing them at lunch time, I will line up first because I’m also a selfish human being. I want to live a very good life. That’s why we must have laws and policies. Countries are never built on goodwill and judgment of individuals but laws and policies that will guide you.
That is why in Uganda they will tell you, you can’t drive when you’re drunk or without a driving permit. Even for parliament, there are qualifications for you to join; otherwise, everybody would be in parliament. They are now removing MPs who don’t have qualifications; that is how countries work. I returned money for Naads but I’m now regretting because others, even when the public was angry, they didn’t return the money. I’m saying we need to be restrained; otherwise, we will take everything.
But middle-income Ugandans are not yet on board
In the last two years, Ugandans from all walks of life have intensified advocacy and resource mobilisation campaigns to help out compatriots in distress. That increasing civic engagement has borne some impressive results.
When cancer patient Carol Atuhaire appealed for financial support to go abroad for more specialised medical treatment, Ugandans organised the #savecarol campaign that involved a car wash and other activities. When news filtered that the remains of the late Cranes goalkeeper Abel Dhaira might not be returned from Iceland where he was playing professional club football, Ugandans pressured the government to pay the costs.Ugandans washing vehicles to raise funds for cancer patient Carol Atuhaire
Such actions have warmed the hearts of Ugandans such as Dorene Namanya, a resident of Kampala, who, nevertheless, reasoned in a recent social media comment that ordinary citizens could influence more positive actions with the government if they widened the scope of their civic actions.
“There are still many issues that plague us. Like poor governance, poor resource management, corruption, poor health and education services, poor roads, etc. Let’s keep the momentum going. Let’s keep fighting for justice and for good and for humanity. Call out your leaders, make them accountable. If you put them there, make them work for you,” she wrote.
But the civic actions of most Ugandans largely continue to be limited to non-political activities, never mind that it is at the political level where all decisions on the governance of the country – or decisions concerning the issues that Namanya listed above – are made.
On Thursday evening, while appearing on an NBS TV talk show, Frontline, Norbert Mao, the president general of the Democratic Party (DP), complained that the most influential segment of Ugandans has largely kept away from direct civic engagement on political matters.
So, why aren’t Ugandans keen to take civic action on political matters?
“The middle class, generally in Uganda, is very reluctant,” Mao said. “They have not embraced our struggle. They think it is too risky.”
Yet where the risks of participation have outweighed the consequences of apathy, however, Ugandans have come out to express their sentiments without fear or favour.
In the northern Ugandan village of Apaa, Amuru district, women stripped naked before two ministers in April 2015 to protest what they described as the illegal grabbing of their land. In Kanungu district late last year, residents protested the delay to construct a bridge connecting their area to Rukungiri district.
President Museveni had to personally intervene until the bridge was done. In mid-2016, Kanungu residents began a fresh demonstration over the delay to upgrade their road to tarmac. The residents are spurred on by a local leadership coalescing under Kanungu Think Tank, an organisation composed of 256 members, including local opinion leaders and religious leaders.
A member of Kanungu Think Tank, Dickson Kagurusi Ampumuza, told The Observer on Friday that they began the protest because the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) had spent two years without showing intent to start constructing a road for which the government secured a loan from the African Development Bank in the 2013/14 financial year.
“If the money was borrowed two years ago, why don’t they get a contractor to work on the road?” Kagurusi asked.
According to Kagurusi, when the Kanungu Think Tank carried out its own investigation to find out why construction was yet to begin, they found out that the roads authority had not even secured a contractor. This prompted them to raise their voices.
“They are still lying to the community that they want to compensate them before construction starts yet there is no contract at all,” he said. “We were able, as ordinary people, to get proper documentation of what is going on and so far we know that there is no contract. The people got to know the truth by themselves.”
Kagurusi says their campaign has so far registered some success in the form of feedback from Unra. He said, “It has been effective in a way that we have gotten a response from Unra. At least it has put them under pressure to explain to us as ordinary people what is going on.”
Kanungu Think Tank intends to keep the pressure on the authority and the government until the road is constructed. In Kampala, where most state institutions are headquartered, organisations such as the Jobless Brotherhood are upping the ante against the political class. They have become synonymous with using branded piglets to drive their message home.
Most recently, the Jobless Brotherhood dropped piglets painted in the colours of the leading political parties – both in power and opposition – as a form of protest against plans by “greedy” MPs to increase their vehicles grant to Shs 200 million. On Friday, the head of the Jobless Brotherhood, Norman Tumuhimbise, told The Observer that their decision to use pigs is largely symbolic.
“When you want to show the corruption, greed and selfishness of our leaders, it becomes easy for us who have acquired skills in creative activism to use pigs,” he said. “It might not do so much now, but it also helps in building courage amongst the young people not to shy away from telling the truth.”
Tumuhimbise said they do not only use the open protests, but also engage in dialogue and debates with political leaders, who they challenge to explain the decisions and actions they take in the service of their country and citizens.
Asked whether he is discouraged by the fact that they have carried out the pig protests for two years now without large numbers of unemployed youth joining them to publicly support their cause, Tumuhimbise said they are, instead, encouraged by the results of their civic actions.
“Jesus began with 12 disciples. We began just the two of us – I and Mayanja Robert at Parliament in 2014 – but we now have 5,000 members of the Jobless Brotherhood. By 2021 our numbers will have grown and we will be opinion leaders. Ours is not a short term mission; it is long term. Even the NRA took some good years to achieve its goals,” he said.
For Mao, civic action would receive a considerable shot in the arm if middle-class Ugandans became more engaged in checking the actions of their leaders, just as it happened in other places such as the United States during the fight by black people against racial segregation, South Africa during the fight against apartheid or Egypt during the Arab Spring.
“[At] Tahrir square, these were lawyers, dentists, medical doctors, professors... waking up every morning with a loaf of bread to go and spend a day and night at Tahrir square. Here, Ugandans have left the struggle to the boda bodas, and after the regime, the dictatorship has fallen, they will be at the front in their suits and ties lining up for jobs, saying, “These ones never studied.” But where are you at this time?” he said.
Kagurusi concurs with Mao. He argues that the involvement of middle income Ugandans, who are educated and can engage with leaders on complex governance issues, would help to ensure that the leaders are put to task until they produce results.
“People should invest in getting the right information and speak from an informed point of view. That is when we can get results,” he said. “Otherwise, when you are advocating for a community service and you don’t have the right information, it is very difficult to achieve anything.”
SUSAN NSIBIRWA is the head of marketing and communication at Vision Group. She shared her life story with Simon Kasyate, the host of Capital FM's Desert Island Discs programme.
Good evening and welcome to the show, Susan Nsibirwa!
Yes, thanks and it is an honour to be here.
Who is Susan Nsibirwa?
Susan is a true Ugandan at heart. Passionate African. Born to a one Mr John and Mrs Allen Nsibirwa and born in Kampala, raised in Nairobi, a high-achiever, very ambitious believer in all things good – believer in God, believer in principle, believer in justice. In Ugandan history, the name Nsibirwa has a lot of significance. That name comes with a lot of expectation. Every time you drop it, people are like...are you this..? Are you this..?
Now people mention Nsibirwa hall [at Makerere University]. My dad is one of the young children of the former katikkiro, Martin Luther Nsibirwa, who was assassinated at Namirembe cathedral in 1945. We carried the name and everything that goes with it.
The expectations that come with it. I remember as a teenager, I almost didn’t like the name because it carried with it huge expectations. Every time you say your name, you have to explain your dad, your uncles, your grandfather...but as I grew older, I learnt to appreciate my ancestry and appreciate what my grandfather did, appreciate the role that my family has played in Uganda. Mine is just to do my part as well.
How was your childhood like?
I would say definitely that there was some privilege there. I won’t run from it because we went into exile when I was, I think, six. We were exiled in Nairobi. My parents were privileged to take me to a boarding primary school and that totally changed the output and outlook on life...I started working when I was at university, I have been working ever since and a lot of the things are actually self-made.
Yes, there is a lot of family there, some family that, but I kid you not, everything that we work for as children is absolutely self-made.
Talking about children, how many were you in this family and what position do you hold?
I am the middle child, and middle children carry all the responsibility... There are eight of us. I am number four. You find that a lot of responsibility, especially when you have siblings outside Uganda and the other ones are young.
So, I took my siblings through school, actually one of my sisters, I was like a mother; from fetching her through nursery school (I was in my Senior 4 vacation) to paying for her, to visiting her at school. My parents almost left that to me...
Can you describe your dad for us?
My dad was like the strictest person, actually when I see him now with his grandchildren, I can’t believe that it is him. Because we were absolutely scared of him. Whenever he would come home, we would all rush to our beds and act like you are asleep. Because, man, he would thrash us. I think up to secondary school, he was thrashing us.
And yet you loved him to bits?
I won’t say that it was love. That was a lot of thrashing. I think I have gone past the point where I saw was it worth it? Maybe that is how he knew
how to parent. Obviously now parenting skills are different. I see him with his grandchildren, all softened.
I’m like, what happened to this guy? Why couldn’t he accord us the same kind of softness? But yeah, it is all good. I am still a believer in discipline when it comes to raising children. Because there is a lot of bad-mannered children around and I am glad I am not one of those.
You didn’t mention anything about your mom...
My mom was always, and I think that is where some of us took from her; my mom has always been a hardworking person. My dad, being raised as a child of a prime minister, he was laid back. But my mom was always the driver. You know? Let’s do this, let’s do that. I think that is where a lot of her influence rubbed off on me.
Before you went to Nairobi, had you gone to any school in town?
Yeah, I remember I went to Aunt Clare’s kindergarten in Namirembe. It is quite interesting that it is still there. Then I went to Kitante primary school, I remember walking to school with my sister.
Where did you live at that time?
We lived in Mengo. Then after that, I went to boarding school. I went into boarding school when I was seven.
Plays When You Say You Love Somebody by Kool and the Gang
Susan, you get to Nairobi: as a child, how did you appreciate that change of environment?
I think because the whole family moved, we were fine. The scary part was being to boarding school at that young age...I landed in Greensteds School in Nakuru. The first night I remember, I think I actually wet my bed because I was so scared.
Had you been bullied?
No. It was just scary. Waking up, and your bed is in the middle of a big dorm, strange environment. But yeah, my parents did what they had to do and I appreciate that.
What kind of school was this?
It was a mixed school, private, British, where everything is very formal. You just get to see a totally-different lifestyle in terms of the way things are done. At that age you are in bed at 6pm, totally new food, British menu.
You tell people you went to school in Kenya but you don’t speak Kiswahili and people are like; aaah. Because it was a British school, the only Kiswahili we learnt was the one to deal with the school staff: like in the dining room, like if you are asking for a cup, fork or water.
That was the only Kiswahili I needed. My parents, on the other hand, learnt to speak Kiswahili very well, but for some reason to some of us, it didn’t happen. I am actually not bad at languages. The language I picked up was French and I did it all the way to university.
So, at some point I thought I should do Lingala, because it is a mixture of Kiswahili and French. I just love the way it sounds. But I never learnt Kiswahili. I taught myself Luganda when we moved back to Uganda.
That was after how long in Kenya?
That was after seven years. I taught myself Luganda because; one, my father would not allow us to speak Luganda at home. It was English that was our first language. So, we had to teach ourselves Luganda.
You must have looked out of place, a Nsibirwa girl not knowing Luganda!
That was the funny thing. We struggled when introducing yourself [and can’t speak Luganda]. People were like, are you really Nsibirwa’s daughter? So, I taught myself. I would get the Bukedde newspaper and practice. I don’t think my siblings can read Luganda. For me, it was a personal thing.
Which secondary school did you go to?
They put me in Nabisunsa for two years and then after that I went to Gayaza [High School]...
You say they put you, meaning it was against your will?
I didn’t wanna leave Greensteds, and I struggled to fit in at Nabisunsa. I couldn’t understand the whole setup. Those were the years of posho and beans.
So, people looked at me as arrogant, as a snob. I couldn’t do the porridge at breakfast, I couldn’t stand the whole thing of fetching water. It was a real culture shock to me.
What about in academics?
I think God blessed me with good brains. I told myself I was gonna work my way out of Nabisunsa and I worked my way out. I was one of the best O-level performers and I went to Gayaza.
Was Gayaza your choice now?
That was now my choice. I had cousins that had gone through that school and at that time it was seen as one of the best schools. I was a Christian then and I figured their Christian foundation would be good for me. Nabisunsa allowed us freedom of worship but it was a Muslim school.
Susan Nsibirwa being introduced to President Museveni by Vision Group CEO Robert Kabushenga
Plays And That My Soul Knows Very Well by Hillsong
As a head of marketing and communication at a huge conglomerate [Vision Group], isn’t that the heartbeat of the organisation?
Initially it was very daunting. I had retired.
Yes. You know like I said, I worked through university. So, I was at dfcu at the time and I just got tired, resigned and everybody was like what are you gonna do? I was like, nothing! By the time I was called by Vision Group, I had actually been home for seven or eight months. I was just chilling. I was recruited as
part of a five-year strategy to set up an effective marketing function at Vision Group...it was daunting at first.
But the beauty about this job is that you get to recruit people that are smarter than you. I got really good managers that take care of the brands...having the right people manage makes my life a little easier.
Back to Gayaza, at that point did you have an idea about the vocation you wanted to take up?
Yes. I mentioned French and the fact that I did it from primary school up to university. My interest then was current affairs and politics. I was like
I want to work at the UN or something like that. To influence agendas. So, I did History, Literature and French. And my first choice was to do political science.
What I thank God for is that Gayaza gave me that liberty to do a strange combination like that. My parents thought that I could do the usual doctor thing, you know! But I thank God for Ms Warren, by that time she was the headmistress.
She was like this chick is an artist, don’t try putting her in sciences. My mum could not believe that...I kept telling her that I am not a doctor, I don’t want to be a doctor....you find many people who cannot stand up to their parents. I am glad that I was able to do that.
Then you go to university?
When the results came back, people were like; Susan you can’t go do political science. Who does that? They were like; there is this new course, Mass Com, you scored highly, go do it. So, I did BA Mass Com and French. That then put me into media. Now I am doing marketing in media.
One of my lecturers was Charles Onyango-Obbo. At that time there was a newspaper called Weekly Topic. Because of my English Literature, I was proofreading for them. They would pay me Shs 10,000 a week. That experience gave me a skill that has allowed me to do alot of things to this day. From there, I picked up attention to detail, that is still me now.
Imagine if you allow a newspaper to go with mistakes! It is that laxity, that mediocrity that being a proofreader doesn’t allow you to have. The team that I work with knows that, for me, there is no excuse. It is excellence all the way.
Going back at the university, how was your social life?
At university, my indulgence was sports. That again I picked up from my upbringing. I did everything that I could do for Mary Stuart hall. I was swimming, set some national records then. I played squash, played basketball, I was a captain of the hockey team, anything that I could do in sports, I did. That is just me.
When do you ever rest?
I think as you grow older, you learn to appreciate the fact that the body actually needs to rest. I am an extrovert, but I appreciate my own company...but back to university, I have been a Christian for many years. So, I was never and have never been into this club thing, dancing thing. When people say but you...I say I am high on life itself. I don’t need additives. Because I have been down a couple of times with some health challenges, I appreciate life so much more and it’s hard to keep me down.
Plays I Look To You by Whitney Houston
After university, where did life throw you?
Life threw me at the French embassy even before I finished university. I was a press attaché. It even gave me an opportunity to use my French, speak my French. I have never been to France but when I speak French, people are like; you have never been to France?
It must have been a nice job at the embassy.
Yes. I appreciated it. I was working with the ambassador and I liked the fact that I was working in a different sphere. But after some time, I realised that as a black, young girl at the embassy; what more can you do there? I worked there two years and went into advertising.
An opportunity came up with Scanad, an advertising agency, and the person they were looking for was exactly me. So, I did Scanad, then Saatchi & Saatchi. In-between, there was a stint where, with some friends, we thought we could start our own advertising agency. But I realized that I am not an entrepreneur; that is just not me... I was at Saatchi for three years, then MTN looked for me.
I went there as advertising manager and left when I was brand manager. Then somebody, Commercial Microfinance, looked for me. After just under two years, dfcu bank looked for me. Then New Vision brought me out of retirement.
Do I expect to find Susan Nsibirwa on a ballot paper one day?
You know I understand that our politics is not about issues; if our politics was about issues, perhaps. I think my level of influence would be now at a different level. Maybe me and you can change it...Aha, it is sad.
Especially in a week like this where you have MPs, to be quite honest, just being the most absurd, forgetting the issues that our country faces, the stark poverty, health system that is broken down, infrastructure that needs fixing, and everybody just thinks of their stomach.
And you find that it is so engrained in the system now that even paying for services, even if you want water, even after you have paid what is on paper, you [are] still going to have to pay the technician to come...even after you have paid for electricity to be delivered to your house, you [are] still going to have to pay the guy who is going to climb the pole, yet he is paid for that...for me, it just breaks my heart.
People don’t think of the fact that we have children growing. What kind of country are they going to see? If I am building a road, the road is not for me, it should last a generation...you see, that health challenge I had, when I had intestinal obstruction, people die from it. But I didn’t.
I remember the nurse who worked on me sent me a message many years later and said that night in hospital, he was on duty alone and I started going south and there was an 89-year- old Catholic priest who also started going south. He was calling for doctors on duty, people’s phones were off. He had to make a choice at that time; ‘who I’m I going to see?’
The 89-year-old priest or this 20-year-old [girl]. And it was down to him. He made the choice to save me. Because of that, my life can’t be mediocre. He could have chosen to save the priest or none of us. He chose me. I was in that hospital bed when I recovered and I had nothing apart from a hospital gown. At that time, it doesn’t matter how many millions you have on your account, it doesn’t matter if you have a mansion or ten cars.
At that point, all you have is a hospital gown. Since then, I said it doesn’t matter how much money you have, when your time is up, what matters is; what legacy did I leave?
I know you had a stint in singing.
It just happened. It is one of those coincidences that end up being good. We were part of a youth band then at KPC with Ken Sserukenya. We just started singing together, backing him up. Then we formed a band, Ken and the Black Sisters. Before you know it, we were recording music, people were inviting us.
Any chance that you will go back?
There is a producer who has been on my case. He has some good songs and thinks they have the right voice and right tone for me. I am actually going to explore that. I am going to the studio. I have been running away from it for many years, but this time I have made up my mind.
If an opportunity comes to you, how many people want to go to the studio and can’t? I am gonna give it a shot. We are starting with one or two singles and see how it goes. I actually don’t expect to go into this thing of going around, touring, you know.
Plays Tukutendereza Yesu by Ruyonga.
What gets you angry, Susan?
When you get angry, what do you do?
Many times I just say or tweet something or pray about something. The thing about Uganda is that we have so much potential. We are such a rich country. I don’t think that we are at even 20 per cent of our potential and the fact that we are content with mediocrity, it is not really anger, but sadness. When you think of the trillions that are eaten, if they were invested back in the economy, just imagine if they were released to do what they are supposed to do, where would we be?
What gives you a hearty laugh?
Fresh air. When you travel outside Kampala and just see the beauty of this country. For me that makes my day.
Any children, Susan?
I have a daughter, who is 13.
If someone were to make you a good meal, what would it have?
I love Indian food, but at the same time I am very Ugandan; luwombo, ettooke, ekinyeebwa, the nice ddoodo. But I am not a big eater, I have never been.
What would you wash it down with?
Do you take alcohol, Susan?
An occasional glass of wine.
If you were marooned on a desert island and allowed to take one thing or one person, what or who would you take?
Plays New Africa by Ruyonga, Maurice Kirya and Mag 44
The Alternative Leadership Initiative for Uganda (ALIU), a loose coalition comprising of young professionals, has initiated a civil suit against the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and police over the manner in which former presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye was arrested at Entebbe airport last week.
The coalition says the manner in which Besigye was handled under the facilitation and aid of CAA violates travel and aviation protocol. They add that Besigye’s rights to association, liberty and dignity were violated upon his arrival in Uganda.
Andrew Karamagi, the spokesperson of ALIU, noted that the arrest of Besigye was in total disregard of the international civil aviation standard aircraft handling and procedures, cargo and passenger safety as well as other established protocols of immigration in Uganda.
He added the statement by CAA in relation to the incident means they do not have the capacity to take charge of the airport. Besigye, who returned into the country after a month’s trip to the United States and the United Kingdom, was arrested by security officers, shortly after he disembarked from a Kenya Airways aircraft.Besigye was arrested as soon he touched down at Entebbe Airport
The former FDC party leader and four-time presidential candidate was immediately driven off in a police vehicle to his residence in Kasangati, Wakiso district.
Eron Kiiza, a lawyer and a member of the coalition, said they are also in the process of filing a formal complaint to the International Civil Aviation Organization, the head of Kenya Airways and Sky Team Alliance.
Members of the opposition also recently revealed plans to petition the International Civil Aviation Organisation over the Besigye Entebbe airport incident.
On its part, CAA has denied any involvement of their personnel in the Besigye saga stating that safety regulations require all personnel authorized to access the air-side to wear reflector jackets.
“At Entebbe International Airport, most of the reflector jackets are branded CAA at the back. It does not necessarily mean that whoever wears a CAA-branded reflector jacket must be a CAA staff. There are also several operational branded vehicles used by various key stakeholders at the air-side,” a statement by CAA read.
JULIUS OCHEN is the MP for Kapelebyong in Amuria district. Between 2006 and 2011, he served as chairman of Amuria district. A card-holding member of the Uganda People's Congress (UPC), he contested for the party presidency in 2015 and lost to Jimmy Akena.
He then chose to stand for parliament on an independent ticket. He told Josephine Namuloki why government must compensate the people of Teso who lost lives and property during the insurgencies there.
Did you leave UPC after you lost the bid to become party president?
I have not left the party [UPC]. I am still a member of the party despite the difficulties that accrued at that time. Jimmy Akena assumed party leadership using kangaroo style and no leader will be legitimate if he or she comes to power without following the constitution of the party.
Why did you opt to stand for parliament?
You know the struggle we have in this country is not limited to one seat [presidency]. I felt that by coming to parliament, I would make friends across the country. And when I am in parliament, I get opportunity to interact with the international community, to interact with the donors and also to broaden my mobilization as a leader.
What are your objectives as MP and how do you intend to achieve them?
There are a variety of issues that cut across all the sectors: health, education, agriculture, roads, environment, and climate change. So, when I came to parliament, I made friendship with MPs and people of goodwill with whom I share these interests. The government has to address issues in these sectors urgently.
You are a shadow minister for Health. What do you think government should do to improve the health sector?
First of all the issue regarding payment of the health workers across the country is key. Health workers deserve better pay because they do specialized work and risk their lives.
We also need to get deeply-involved in the issue of the budget for the health sector.
The appropriation of the budget in the health sector is still a challenge. The resources that are going to the health sector do not adequately address the challenges in the sector.
Recently, the president met with doctors and gave them money for their Sacco. I think there are bigger issues in the health sector than giving doctors money for their Sacco.
What are some of the national issues you think the 10th parliament should tackle?
The first one is health. This is a priority area that needs to be fixed. The issue of education is also very pertinent. Lastly, we have to establish good governance.
The current regime does not adhere to democratic principles. This regime has a problem and the problem emanates from the constitution which gives the president too much power.
Previously the Iteso of Amuria lived harmoniously with the Karimojong of Abim. Today there are inter-tribal conflicts between the two groups which have claimed lives of people. What is the cause?
There is a long history. The issues of conflicts between the people of Teso and Karamoja have brought mixed feelings but they date back to the time of cattle theft. It started as a small matter but when the Karimojong acquired arms from Kenya, they gained strength.
And when someone who is fighting you has superior weapons, you will be overpowered. This is what happened. In the process, we lost animals and also in that process more issues were generated which amplified the conflict between Teso and Karamoja.
So as a leader what have you done to reconcile the people?
Recently, we held a meeting with leaders from Napak district because the land between Abim and Amuria districts lies in Napak. We held a meeting with local leaders in which we discussed the emerging challenges. We agreed to form a committee comprising leaders from Teso and Karamoja.
This committee will look into areas where there are complaints such that when those areas are identified, we narrow down the problem from the entire community. That is currently what is going on.
In 2006, you ran into trouble with the authorities when you blamed government for cattle rustling in Teso sub-region. Do you still stand by this view?
It is true the government in power and previous regimes are responsible for the destruction of our economy and for the destruction of the social and cultural fabric of our sub-region. Chapter four of our constitution is very clear that Uganda is signatory to the UN and it must observe the right to life, right to privacy and the right to own property.
As a sub-region, we took a decision in 2007 when I was chairman and took government to court for failing to protect people and their property. I have done research and compiled a list of all the people killed during the various insurgencies in Teso due to government’s laxity.
Does your list include the Mukura massacre of 1989?
No, that is too small because about 67 people lost their lives. I am talking of 200 or possibly 500 people and I have all the data. We are battling with government in court.
Has the situation changed with regard to cattle rustling?
The act of cattle rustling has scaled down although there are still some incidents in the district of Katakwi. However, there has remained a psychology of the poverty created due to the loss of animals.
Imagine stealing 500 cattle from your home. We lost many of our parents who died because they could not stomach the anger. Some of them refused to eat for weeks. Some committed suicide.
You are a leader of the Teso War and Cattle Rustling Debt Claimant’s Association which is pushing for the compensation of victims of the insurgency in Teso. Any progress made?
The situation is still bad and we are asking government to allow us open those mass graves that have been blocked for the last 30 years so that we are allowed to bury our people culturally. It is an abomination in the Teso community for you to kill their people and bury them in mass graves and you block them from being opened for reburial.
You were arrested in 2013 for allegedly collecting money from the victims under the pretence of paying their lawyer.
That is nonsense. From the time we started that case, we have been funding it through the membership fee and the membership fee we collect is decided by the general assembly each time.
We started with Shs 5,000 per year. As members, we contribute to pay the lawyer and we have all this data. I wish you had an opportunity to visit our office; we would have showed you all this information.
Jimmy Akena, the president of one of the factions of Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), must be a rare man at parliament.
Last week when the Lira municipality MP made an appearance in the committee on National Economy, the members led by the chairperson, Syda Bbumba, could not believe it.
“Are you the one, Akena? My son, where have you been? I was about to place adverts on the radio,” she said as she moved to hug the MP.
As Akena walked to his seat, Bbumba requested other committee members to stand up and clap for the prodigal son.
One question that kept puzzling Wolokoso was: Where has Akena been?
MP Ssenyonga wants sacking of Bakkabulindi
It seems Johnson Muyanja Ssenyonga, the Mukono South MP, has an axe to grind with Charles Bakkabulindi, the minister of state for Sports.
Recently while making a submission on the floor of parliament, Ssenyonga said that ministers like that in charge of sports are not innovative; that is why the state of sports in the country is poor.
“The state minister concerned with sports should be a person who is innovative, someone who is practical. We saw KCCA soliciting millions of shillings for the city carnival. They went to the business community and got money to have things done without bothering the treasury.
In sports, we are let down by a crawling minister who has been there for years and years. The appointing authority needs to do the needful if they want sports to reach a certain level in this country. Otherwise, we shall continue piling blame to government,” Ssenyonga ranted. Of course there are no prizes for guessing at who this rant was directed.
Former minister takes to the gym
There were times when one thought that Asuman Kiyingi, a former minister, was about to burst. In fact, an employee at the ministry of Foreign Affairs once told us that when Kiyingi served as minister of state for Regional Cooperation, it would take him long to climb the stairs to his office.
One imagined that given his busy schedule, Kiyingi, the former Bugabula South MP, could not squeeze in time to do some exercises.
The situation has since changed. Since he is out of cabinet and parliament, Kiyingi now has a lot of time to work on his weight and body shape. From his postings on the internet, he has already taken the initiative.
Last week, he posted a picture of himself furiously working away on a cross-trainer in one of the fancy gyms in town. We wish him luck in his new endeavor.
NRM’s Ogwang and his UPC loving mother
Peter Ogwang, the Usuk MP, may be one of the outspoken supporters of the NRM and President Museveni but by his own admission, he has failed to convince his mother to support the ruling party.
Recently, Wolokoso overheard Ogwang confide in a colleague that he is the only non-UPC politician that the mother voted for in the last election.
“She only voted for me because I am her son but she is a strong supporter of UPC,” Ogwang said as the other MP looked on in bemusement.
Asked whether her mother voted for President Museveni, Ogwang did not sound sure.
President Yoweri Museveni has used the 54th independence anniversary celebrations held in Luuka district to urge farmers to use the available Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) to get out of poverty.
Museveni says with the available market, technology and provision of free inputs by government, Ugandans are poor by choice.
"Our soil in Luuka here is very rich but why are you poor? You should give me 10 acres of land in Kityerera sub-county, Mayuge district so that I put there a house and I teach you how to use land and get out of poverty," he said.80 years old Katrin Bweguyibwa Budangula, the UPM founding member after she recieved her medal
He advised farmers to use herbicides and get rid of harmful weeds on their farms in order to realise good outputs. He said the government had bought pesticides for livestock farmers and these were being given out by government under OWC.
Museveni laughed at those who have been criticising him for giving out cash to SACCOs in Kampala. He said he was not using the money to lure opposition youths but he was doing his work of supporting organised youths to get out of poverty.
"They (opposition) think Kampala is theirs. That is wrong, Kampala is like my garden, I have been there since 1986," said Museveni adding that he would even give more support to the youth.
He advised the youth in other parts of the country to form development groups saying he will support them.
"You may not all get the support at ago but we shall reach you all one by one," he said.
Museveni also said was going to put enough money in the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) for the low income earners to access low interest loans to start up small scale businesses.
"This money will be for those who want to start up small scale industries," he saidPresident Museveni with Electoral Commission chairman Badru Kiggundu after he received his medal
On the issue of the airline he said he allowed the Uganda Airlines to die because it was not helpful in those days.
"But the NRM government has decided to revive the Uganda Airlines for the country to stop giving out money to other countries for that service. When our airline starts working, the tickets will be cheaper and we shall have the means of exporting our produce," he said.
"Therefore my dear Ugandans I would like to tell u that the future is bright. Our products are assured of the EAC (East African Community) market and other markets beyond East Africa," he said.
City businessman Sudhir Ruparelia has won the bid to provide office space to Members of Parliament.
Ruparelia's company, Meera Investments Limited, the proprietor of Queen Chambers on Parliamentary Avenue, beat off competition from three other companies to win the bid to provide office space to legislators and parliamentary staff.
Obabaru Okello, the deputy clerk of finance and administration, in a bid notice, dated October 6 and displayed on parliament's notice board, states that Meera Investments was evaluated as the best bidder for the procurement requirements, which include the building being in close proximity to parliament and not more than 400 metres.
The unsuccessful bidders include Yampe Limited, which owns a newly constructed building on Portal Avenue, on grounds that it is costly.
Rumee Investments Limited, which owns a building on Lumumba Avenue, did not meet the requirement of being located within a 400-metre radius of parliament while Twed Property Development Limited did not submit a bid security in their submission.
During the evaluation process, a team from parliament, on inspection of Queen Chambers, had raised a red flag on the building, citing poor drainage system and stained toilets. However, the ministry of Works later cleared the building for occupancy.
Chris Obore, parliament's director of communications, confirmed the development.
"It is true that the contracts committee which evaluated the bids zeroed in on Queen's Chambers because they emerged as the best candidate for the contract," Obore said on phone.
The contract price for office space is Shs 4.5bn for a period of two years and an additional Shs 70.4m for installation of window blinds.
According to Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) regulations, the notice gives unsuccessful bidders ten working days after the display of the best evaluated bidder notice.
"The notice will be removed on October 19. Before this date, the unsuccessful bidders can lodge complaints or raise objections to the contracts committee for scrutiny," Obore says.
This means that if no complaints are raised within the 10 days, Meera Investments will sign the contract with parliament, which has been grappling with office space for the 431 MPs.
The MPs have been forced to share offices as a temporary measure while parliament acquired more office space.
Officials from the directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control yesterday arrested 36 Chinese nationals employed at Karuma power dam project in Kiryandongo for working without permits.
Linos Ngompek, Kiryandongo resident district commissioner says that the operation on Friday afternoon followed a tip off to the directorate that some foreign nationals at the project had no work permits.
Ngompek explains that when the immigration team entered the site under the cover as tourists, they found more than 100 Chinese nationals working but were only able to round up 36 of them. He said on realising that there was an operation, the majority fled while others who were at the camp ran into the tunnel.
Sinohydro Corporation Limited, a Chinese firm contracted to construct the hydropower dam employs about 4,000 staff. Ngompek disclosed that about 1,000 of them are Chinese nationals, majority of who entered the country illegally.
“It is true that [Immigrations] came to Karuma yesterday, the power project. And for them, when they are coming, they don’t inform, they just bump into the area. Karuma has about 1,000 Chinese working on that project, and when they came they managed to pick 30 Chinese. The rest of [them] when they communicated [that there was an operation], they stayed under the tunnel, they did not come out to evade the operation. The 30 were taken to Kampala to the Immigration. From what I have got is that majority of them working there do not have work permits”, Ngompek said.
According to the immigration laws, illegal immigrants are fined for unlawful entry into the country on conviction and thereafter, deported at their own expense. The immigration department reportedly collects at least Shs 52bn for such services annually.
Emmanuel Decox Nyalo, the human resource officer of Sinohydro confirmed the arrests. He however says the victims have valid passports.
“Yeah, it is true that a team from Immigration came to the project and they took 36 Chinese who were working at the project without the work permits. Most of them never had their passports in their hands at that time. So, they were taken to Kampala. And from what I got today morning, they were all found in possession of valid passports and hopefully before the end of today they will get back to the site and work will go on”, Nyalo said.
He blames the immigration officials for laxity that allows illegal entry in the country.
“To some extent also, I think these Immigration people are to blame because if these people can enter into the country, then they settle into work for two years, then your realise right now, then there is a gap. I think they should also tighten some nuts here and there such that when these people come into the country, they are cleared of such before they are allowed to actually settle down and do their work…I know of a number of occasions where our citizens go to other countries but without that [work permits] they are not even allowed to take to take off. I think Immigration must also style up and take things very seriously. It is very unfortunate that these people can stay here for two years without a work permit in the country. This is bad”, he said.
Nyalo said the arrests do not have much effect on the construction work at the site.
“It has had little impact on the work, most of the work is on going. Apart from a few who were taken and that I hope will get back right away, work has just been normal. There has been no stoppage, we completed all the work of yesterday, the whole night because we work here 24/7. People of the night shift continued and this morning work is going on and when they get back we shall just be proceeding as usual. You know it is the procedure of the law, if you are working in another country you must secure a work permit”, he said.
Karuma dam project once completed, will generate about 600 Megawatts. The project is expected to cost close to $1.7bn, (about Shs 3.5 trillion). Exim bank of China is financing 85 percent and the government of Uganda 15 percent.
According the agreement signed with government, the project will be complete by December 2018. However, after just three years of construction, many walls at the dam construction area have developed cracks. Members of Parliament have argued that the cracks could threaten the future and longevity of the dam.
Only one in ten Ugandans have electricity in their homesteads despite the country generating and exporting some of its hydropower to neighbouring countries. Part of the reasons advanced for this are high power tariffs and the hope is once dams like Karuma are completed, the tariff on electricity will be affordable to all Ugandans.
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) must refund all taxes collected from chess prodigy, 20-year-old Phiona Mutesi says, President Yoweri Museveni.
Mutesi’s chess talent elevated her to the chess apex in Uganda about 12 years ago when she was just 8 years old while her story has not only inspired a book, Queen of Katwe but now a true-story Hollywood movie, the Queen of Katwe as well.
Speaking at the 18th national prayer breakfast held at Hotel Africa in Kampala today afternoon, President Museveni said it was a “shame” that URA had collected taxes from payments advanced to Mutesi – the subject of the 2016 Queen of Katwe movie.
“Recently I was in the US, and then they told me about this young person and her film. One of the things my friends in the US told me about her; were that URA was taking a lot of tax from her little film. Shame on URA, I will return you the money”, Museveni said.
The prayer breakfast under the theme "We shall know them by their fruits" attracted key government officials including chief justice Bart Katureebe, prime minister Ruhakana Rugunda, inspector general of government (IGG) Irene Mulyagonja and others. Among the people in the audience was Mutesi together with her mentor and local missionary Robert Katende.
Museveni appreciated Mutesi for making Uganda proud citing how her movie has attracted attention from the entire world.
Jonathan William Aitken, a former British member of parliament and minister of defence was the keynote speaker.
Katende said that he could not tell the exact amount of money that had been collected by URA but highlighted that taxes were being collected from all actors in the Queen of Katwe movie. Most of the cast in the movie were first-time Ugandan actors.
Katende added that a lot of taxes were demanded for shipping in the recording equipment and that this is why part of the shooting was done in South Africa. South Africa offers tax incentives to film makers and actors in a bid to boost her movie industry.
Giving her testimony yet again, Mutesi, who lost her father to HIV/Aids spoke about sleeping on the streets twelve years ago and how her life has been transformed ever since she learnt how to play chess.
“I had lost hope in my life but that is the time [learning chess] when I started my life again. Right now, it is 12 years back and my life has been transformed, a story is written, now a book is written about my story, the Queen of Katwe and also a movie, the Queen of Katwe by Disney”, she said.
Speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga applauded Mutesi for marketing Uganda through use of talent.
The drama film stars British Nigerian-born actor David Oyelowo as Robert Katende, Mexican-born Kenyan artist, Lupita Nyong'o as Mutesi’s mother and Ugandan young actress Madina Nalwanga as Phiona Mutesi.
The film depicts Mutesi's life as a Ugandan chess prodigy from the slum of Katwe becoming a woman candidate master after her performance at World Chess Olympiads.
The movie had its world premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Canada on September 10. Ten days later, Disney held the film's corporate premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood and is set for its European debut at the BFI London Film Festival tomorrow.
The movie was premiered in Kampala at Century Cinemax at Acacia mall two weeks ago for the journalists, then to invited guests. It was opened to the public yesterday, Friday.
Police have arrested a group of youths travelling from Masaka to State House in Entebbe where they had planned to stage a protest against corruption.
About ten 14-seater taxis coated with placards were intercepted in Masaka shortly before they set off for Entebbe; their planned destination.
They were stopped at a roadblock in Lukaya 26km out of Masaka town, from where the vehicles were impounded and a number of youths arrested.
The group was led by Faisal Sseruwagi, the Kimanya-Kyabakuza division NRM youth chairperson, Rogers Buregyeya, the Masaka municipality youth chairman for the ruling part, National Resistance Movement (NRM).
The youths are protesting against corruption in Masaka municipality, illegal fishing allegedly carried out by army officers, land grabbing, shoddy work and poor service delivery.
Those arrested are identified as Abdullah Ssenabulya, Faisal Sseruwagi, Evelyn Kyomuhendo, Ronald Ssekabira, Baker Kiyemba, and Emmanuel Kasiita among others. They are now detained at Masaka Central Police Station.
Faisal Sseruwagi, one of the youths arrested admits that they were going to State House to alert President Yoweri Museveni about the rot within local governments in greater Masaka region. He notes that their arrest will not stop the quest for improved accountability to the voters and fight against corruption.
Sseruwagi says they want President Museveni to intervene and arrest government officials involved in corruption and misappropriation of government funds.
Ssenabulya says their arrest will not stop them from demanding for good governance.
Police has since stepped up operation along Masaka-Kampala highway. A joint operation carried out by traffic police, anti-riot police and UPDF soldiers is being carried out near Lukaya. Passengers are being checked to picked out those suspected to be involved in the planned State House protests.
Masaka District Police Commander John Mwaule says police is investigating the motive of the youths.
An early morning fire has left a local radio station, QFM (95.3) in Lira town counting losses.
The roof of the storeyed building housing more than 30 offices, along Ogwanguji road in Lira caved in after it was destroyed by a fire that started at about 8.30am today, Friday.
The cause of the fire or extent of the damage is not immediately clear but the most affected is QFM, whose equipment was severely burnt. Large plumes of yellowish smoke could be seen billowing out of the top floor where the station is hosted.
The building also had offices of Bay Port Financial Services, Lira Woman MP, Makmot Kibwota and Company Advocates, Farmers Centre and Kingstone Sports bar among others.
The mysterious fire according to the QFM staff started at about 8:30 am when they were in their departmental meeting. Meanwhile, police rescued seven people who were trapped by smoke on the second floor of Sanofa Cafe building, a building neighbouring QFM, which also caught fire.
Four fire trucks were deployed and fire fighters managed to stop the fire from spreading to the next building. Two of the trucks are from the police while the others are from Mukwano Group of Companies and K-Fire crew, a private entity.
There are no reports of any causalities.
Moses Kataabu, the lord councillor of Kampala Central II, has petitioned Janet Museveni, the first lady and minister for education and sports, to stop the “sale/lease” of a portion of Old Kampala Secondary School land worth about Shs 10bn.
The school is one of the oldest in the country. The lease or let was witnessed by Lukwago & Co. Advocates, a law firm owned by Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago. However, the lord mayor has denied involvement and instead called for the reversal of the deal.
In Kataabu’s petition dated October 3, addressed to Janet Museveni, he pleads:
“I have endeavoured to write to a number of officers concerned, but I am yet to receive any response in spite of the fact that work is in progress on the said facility and I believe that any further delay of action will cause an irreparable effect on the property.”
The letter is copied to Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko, Lord Mayor Lukwago and the KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi. Kataabu had earlier petitioned the KCCA education directorate on September 15, following that up with a reminder on September 21.
The Observer has seen a tenancy agreement dated July 22, between Old Kampala SS Board of Governors and Volcano Ltd, a company Kataabu says is owned by a Rwandese national.
According to the agreement, the leaseholder is supposed to use the land as a bus terminal for a four-year renewable tenancy contract at Shs 5m per month, and Shs 240m was paid for the first four years. Any renewal is subject to an increase of 25 per cent. The land itself, measuring approximately one acre, is valued at Shs 10bn according to the head teacher.
The tenancy agreement was drawn by Lukwago & Co Advocates and signed by Chrysostom Katumba, one of the senior partners. Asked to comment on October 5, Katumba said the school is a longtime client of the law firm. He said the portion of land in question was neither sold nor leased but, rather, let off to Volcano Ltd.
“Every procedure to let off the land was done by the Board of Governors and KCCA with our legal guidance, and even the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) has already allowed change of user,” Katumba said.
The lawyer gave this writer a copy of the letter written by Baker Magaino, the ULC secretary, approving the change of user. However, in his communication to the Old Kampala School board dated October 4, Lukwago writing in his capacity as lord mayor denied knowledge of the sale, lease or let off of the school land and implored the board to revisit or rescind their decision “if indeed it has been executed.”
“We believe the matters involving alienation of public land or trust property; particularly facilities of [this] nature are of great concern. My office would not condone or acquiesce in any transaction involving selling or leasing of school property,” he said in a letter copied to the mayor, Kampala Central, among others.
The mayor, Charles Sserunjogi, could not be reached for comment.
The auditor general’s report dated June 18, 2015 condemned the dilapidated structures on the controversial land situated on plot 19, Namirembe road, which previously housed seven school staff.A section of Old Kampala SS
The head teacher of Old Kampala SS, Aziida Ntegana Nsubuga, told The Observer on October 3 that the lease was unavoidable because the land had become a security risk yet the board had no resources to develop it.
“In July 2015, the LC-1 chairman and chairman school management committee, Old Kampala primary school, reported to the school administration about unscrupulous individuals who purportedly claimed to own the land title and were selling off land on plot 19,” said Nsubuga.
The board members in their meeting held on February 11, 2016 approved letting off of the land in question to protect it from land grabbers. On April 22, 2016, an advert was placed for bidders to hire the space and Bakuli Bus Terminal and Volcano Ltd responded. Volcano was announced winner on May 26.
Nsubuga said funds generated from this transaction would be used to construct a perimeter fence around the school.
“This is already in advanced stages; we are only waiting for approval of plans by KCCA. The school fields are intact and not touched at all. They will be developed at an appropriate time,” Nsubuga said.
On the lord mayor not knowing about the deal, the head teacher said: “I am not surprised that the lord mayor is not aware because he is a busy person.”
She added that the school may not renew the agreement if it secures funds to develop plot 19. The let agreement was signed by Dr Joseph Robert Jjumba, the board chairman, and Nsubuga, the head teacher, in the presence of Kalimba Agusse, the Volcano lawyer, John Mary Vianney Nshimiyimana, the company managing director, and Katumba of Lukwago & Co Advocates.
Contacted for a comment yesterday, Magaino said Uganda Land Commission approved the user change after the school’s board of governors applied for the same.
“In our meeting that was convened from April 7 - 8 under ULC minute 13/2016 (a) 263), it was agreed that the bodies governing the school were in agreement; so, ULC also agreed to change of user from private dwelling to commercial, subject to approval of the planning authority,” said Mugaino.
The government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa has told party MPs not to draft private member’s bills before consulting her and the party leadership.
Addressing a caucus meeting in the conference hall of the Office of the President building on Monday, Nankabirwa said MPs who do not heed her advice will not get NRM support for their bills, sources told The Observer.
She reportedly said: “Some MPs [NRM] think one has to just think of something and the following day packages it for consideration as a private member’s bill. No, the bills should go through proper channels. If that bill [Ssekitooleko’s] had gone through proper channels, it would not have faced the resistance it suffered on the floor right from the day it was tabled to its conclusion.”
Nankabirwa further told the MPs that a private member’s bill should come up after all relevant stakeholders within NRM have been consulted and a binding position taken.
Last month, parliament declined to grant leave to Kafeero Ssekitooleko, the Nakifuma MP, to table his private member’s bill that, among others, sought to lift the age-limit for judges and term limits for electoral commissioners.
The speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, directed that Ssekitooleko’s proposals should be incorporated in a broader constitutional amendment bill to be tabled by government.
Nankabirwa, sources said, was also not happy with a motion tabled by Jacqueline Amongin, the Ngora woman MP, seeking to declare a state of emergency in Teso sub-region due to the hunger situation there.
Parliament referred Amongin’s motion to the committee on agriculture for further scrutiny. Nankabirwa, according to sources, warned that Amongin’s motion could negatively affect the tourism sector as it paints a grim picture of the country.
However, some MPs were unhappy with her counsel. One of them accused Nankabirwa and other party leaders of being arrogant, adding that that is why MPs rarely consult them.
“You have just dismissed Amongin’s motion but people are dying in Teso,” said a female MP from eastern Uganda.
The legislator said the party is quick to whip members into line but when MPs have their personal concerns, they are ignored.
Others indicated that the burning issue right now is not bills or motions but their long-awaited vehicles. Some of them said they continue to use taxis and boda boda, which put their lives at risk while restricting their movements.
At this juncture, David Bahati, the minister of state for finance and planning, was invited to explain. Bahati told the MPs that they will be given Shs 200 million for cars but the money will be released in two installments.
“This financial year each MP will be given Shs 100m and the balance of Shs100m would be fully paid in July, next year at the beginning of the 2017/2018 financial year,” Bahati said.
Some MPs were not happy with the proposal to split the car money but the majority endorsed it. Although the public is critical of the free vehicle plan, MPs maintain they need cars to facilitate their work just like other senior public officials.
Sarah Kulata, the commissioner for land registration, wants the findings of the commission of inquiry into Uganda National Roads Authority quashed by the High court because they are based on “ignorance”.
Kulata has petitioned the High court after she was allowed last week by Justice Henrietta Wolayo to apply for judicial review of the findings and recommendations made against her by the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led commission.
Kulata got Justice Wolayo to allow a judicial review after arguing that the commission had wrongly recommended her sacking. Released in May this year, the Unra report named Kulata among individuals culpable for abuse of office and causing financial loss to Unra.
Now, through Kibedi and Company Advocates, Kulata has asked court to quash the findings on grounds that the commission never heard her side of the story before making its conclusions.
Kulata says she first got a hint about the commission’s recommendations against her from local media reports. According to the media reports, Kulata says, the commission hadn’t only recommended her sacking but also an overhaul of the lands ministry.
“Subsequently, I received a letter from the minister of lands, housing and urban development to the minister for public service requesting him to halt promotion of officers of the ministry of lands including myself,” Kulata says in her affidavit in support of the application.
With that, Kulata says she set out to obtain a copy of the Unra probe report in order to ascertain the grounds and accusations against her and the ministry in general.
“That upon perusal of the Unra probe report, I discovered that the commission never invited me to respond to the allegations against me and thereby condemned me in glaring breach of the principles of natural justice,” Kulata says.
Though she admits appearing before the commission, Kulata says she was only asked to explain the process of land registration. Among other things she explained to the commission, Kulata says, were the officers and actors involved in land registration such as the controlling authority, the area land officer, the surveyor, and the registrar.
“But from the Unra probe report, the commission heaps all the wrongs, commissions and omissions of the concerned area land committee, the district land board, the district land officer, and district surveyor onto me in clear testimony that the commissioners lacked an in-depth understanding of the land sector,” Kulata says.
Another area in which the commission displayed lack of understanding, according to Kulata, was when dealing with the claim of land grabbing of land formerly belonging to Omulangira (Prince) Yusufu Suuna Kiweewa.
Kulata says the said land was fully dealt with and sold off by the said Kiweewa, which meant its status upon sale changed from mailo [land ownership] to freehold.
“That the impugned findings, recommendations and decisions made against the applicant have no legal and factual basis and were apparently made without a comprehension, on the part of the commission, of the roles and obligations of the different actors in the process of land management and land registration in Uganda,” Kulata says.
Kulata is also aggrieved that the commission blamed her for the actions and omissions that took place in the department between December 2011 and August 2012 as she had been interdicted during that period.
“That the Unra commission report contains falsehoods and materials that are greatly injurious to the credit and reputation of the applicant and the applicant has thereby been greatly injured in her reputation, office and occupation and has been brought into public scandal, ridicule and contempt,” the suit claims.
Separately, Kulata petitioned the High court in August, protesting the decision by the lands minister to halt her promotion basing on the findings of the Unra commission of inquiry.
Earlier on July 19, the High court had halted the implementation of the report after aggrieved road construction firms; Dott Services Ltd and General Nile Company for Roads and Bridges filed a petition. Marvin Baryaruha, the former Unra legal officer, also challenged the report in the High court in August, citing lack of transparency, conflict of interest and bias.
A suspension from reporting from parliament could be the ultimate sanction against media houses whose editors declined to appear before the house committee on Rules, Privilege and Discipline on Wednesday, a reliable source has told The Observer.
The source, an MP who sits on the committee, said for the time being they will keep engaging the editors but if that fails “everything [including suspension] is possible.”
“We don’t want it to get to that level [suspension]; that is why we have to keep the lines of communication [between MPs and the media] open,” the MP said.
Such action would affect journalists from The Observer, Red Pepper and Uganda Radio Network (URN), whose editors did not heed the summons. Only New Vision, which is partly owned by the government, turned up.
Among other reasons, the media organisations say the committee has no jurisdiction to pry into the editorial matters of their newsrooms. They have also pointed out that in summoning editors to defend themselves, parliament is acting as complainant, prosecutor and judge in its own case.A cross section of newspapers on display
The committee is investigating alleged negative media reporting on parliament, especially regarding the MPs’ benefits and perks. Our source said there was no need for editors to snub the committee because the intention of parliament is not to “pin” media organisations on anything, but to understand how the media works.
He said: “You people have blown this issue out of proportion. The media and parliament are partners. We are not going to point any fingers…”
The MP added that the committee will meet Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga before tabling its report.
MEETING NEW VISION
While our source insisted the interface between editors and parliament was meant to be a harmonious interaction, Wednesday’s meeting with New Vision editors almost turned into a trial.
The Vision Group team was led by Barbara Kaija, the editor-in-chief, and included John Kakande, the editor, and Raymond Kirabira, the legal officer. During the five-hour meeting that locked out journalists attached to parliament, the MPs and editors engaged in heated exchanges.
The exchange, sources said, was started by Gaster Mugoya, the MP for Bukooli North and the committee’s lead counsel, when he asked the editors to explain the motivation behind the story that parliament’s work was paralyzed because MPs traveled to the UNAA convention in the United States.
“How was it paralyzed, Madam Editor?” Mugoya queried, adding that it was a pity that a paper of New Vision’s calibre had fallen for rumours circulating on social media.
Kirabira, New Vision’s legal officer, protested against the tone of the questioning, insisting that the editors were not on trial. Kakande, a former parliamentary reporter, told the MPs that at times “negative” stories about parliament should be blamed on the institution (parliament).
“Sometimes we want to crosscheck with you on stories but you are not forthcoming and we end up making mistakes. You need to strengthen your communications department [directorate],” Kakande said.
Kaija told the MPs not to go hard on journalists and editors because they are human and, therefore, make mistakes. She said New Vision has a dedicated column for correcting mistakes or inaccuracies in their reporting and on some occasions they have issued apologies.
She then presented a statement before the committee in which she made a case for the establishment of an independent media council. In her statement, Kaija noted that the council needs to be free from political and other interferences.
“An independent media council whose independence and funding is protected by an act of parliament is desirable for our young democracy and we know that it is in your power as the august House to facilitate Uganda’s young media to grow and to serve better,” Kaija said, reading from her statement.
A Shs 110m appeal has been launched to assist Brenda Gimbo, a journalist who has been battling brain cancer for the last six months, in getting treatment.
Gimbo, 36, was in July diagnosed with a tumour at the centre of her brain where all sense neurons meet. Her condition later deteriorated; she developed a double vision and lost sight altogether.
She also developed a skin rash all over her body. Gimbo is a single mother of four. She can neither walk without a guide nor read. After the initial surgery, doctors at Mulago hospital advised Gimbo to seek further surgery from Yashoda hospitals in Hyderabad, India.
“She will require neuro-navigated craniotomy followed by tumour biopsy/decompression then followed by stereotactic radiotherapy. We are unable to handle that in our current setting,” said Dr. M.E Muhumuza, a senior consultant neurosurgeon at Mulago.
WHO IS GIMBO?
Raised from a humble family in Namutumba district, Gimbo holds a diploma in journalism and mass communication from UMCAT. Until 2013, she worked as a presenter at Victoria FM Jinja. She also worked as a reporter at Radio One and Akaboozi for some time. She quit Victoria FM when she developed memory loss problems.
Gimbo told The Observer on Thursday, October 6, that sometimes she forgets what she does or says. Her first born, Happy Nayiga (13), is a P7 candidate at Grace Junior School Nakibizzi and last born Timothy Bukenya is 18 months old. Gimbo lives with her 72-year-old only surviving paternal auntie, Jane Namazzi, in Triangle zone in Njeru town, Buikwe district.
When information about her failing health got into the public domain, many people got touched. A meeting was subsequently held at 2-Friends hotel in Jinja to devise strategies of fundraising for Gimbo’s surgery. On October 10, the ‘Save Brenda Campaign’ will be launched at Crested Crane hotel, Jinja.
“Even Brenda will be there. So, we are calling upon everyone, not only in Jinja or Busoga but the entire country and abroad, to come and we save this very inspirational life,” said Alex Luganda, the Busoga kingdom minister for justice and constitutional affairs.
He further explained that after the launch, fundraising prayers will be held at St James church, Jinja, on Sunday, October 23, followed by a similar service at Jinja Evangel church.
“We will climax this campaign with a mega car wash on Friday, October 28, at Jinja dam waters, and thereafter hand over all our collections to Brenda herself,” Luganda said.
Mobile money deposits can be made on 0702724108 registered in the name of Timothy Lusala Batuwa.
“Whoever can, please send me any money you have; however little it could be, I request that you offer it to me. Kindly help me live to see my children graduate,” Gimbo said in her appeal for help.
Alex Ajiji, the High court’s Civil division deputy registrar, has allowed six former employees of Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) to sue the organization on behalf of 146 others.
In a ruling delivered on September 27, Ajiji said he was convinced the six former employees led by Lyndon Kiyimba have similar prayers before court and were all terminated in similar circumstances.
He ordered that they publish the ruling in the media so that other former employees who were not in court can know they will be represented by six of their colleagues. He also ordered Unra to pay the costs of the suit.
Unra had objected to the representative suit, arguing that the employees had different contracts and were employed on different days. Therefore, they have nothing in common that would warrant a joint suit, Unra argued.
Speaking after the ruling, Denis Atwijukire, the lawyer for the former employees, said he expected the positive ruling.
“We are going to publicize this ruling so that the public knows that there is a case against the respondent [Unra]. We also want those applicants who have not been in court to know that their application has been granted,” Atwijukire said.
The lawyer added that he will be filing the main suit by the end of October. Kiyimba, the leader of the complainants, said they were very excited by the court ruling.
“This is step one, we are going to work with our lawyers to see that we file the main suit in time. The ruling is good; court has heard our cry for justice. Let court investigate, we will give it our merits to show that our termination was unlawful,” Kiyimba said.
The six employees who sued Unra on behalf of others are: Lyndon Kiyimba, Robert Byekwaso, Esther Alum, Luciano Webale, Kenneth Mulamyenta and Billy Asiimwe. At least 400 workers were sacked or had their contracts not renewed weeks after Allen Kagina was appointed executive director of Unra in December 2015.
They want court to not only compel Unra to compensate them for illegal termination but also to clear their names of any wrongdoing so that they can seek employment elsewhere.
“Many of us have applied for jobs elsewhere but when you indicate that you are a former employee of Unra, they think you’re a thief,” Kiyimba said.
“Our names have been soiled. We can’t get jobs yet we have children to look after and other people who depend on us. It is unfair to treat us like this.”
Kiyimba further said that while the complainants are not claiming that there were no thieves in Unra, “it is unfair to lump us all together.”