Phone: 0414 532 083       Email: info@umdf.or.ug

Have any question? contact us here
  • MEDIA AND GENDER: UMDF impliments a project that campaigns against early girl child marriages
  • Ugandan Journalists work under hard conditions, including constant harassment by police

  • UMDF members regularly interact with different media rights stakeholders, including Members of Parliament

  • UMDF trains Journalists in governance issues, multi-media skills and conflict transformation

  • peace journalism coordinators from partner radio stations at an evaluation meeting in kampala

  • Under the peace journalism project: UMDF facilitates community dialogues in post conflict regions

in the media

Steven Sempagala aka Sergeant (rtd) Kifulugunyu has died.

He is known for composing morale boosting songs during NRA bush war and his major role was to entertain fighters.

One of his famous songs is 'Omoto nawaka' which he composed in 1984 after joining NRA rebels.

WHO IS KIFULUGUNYU

On November 3, 1978, the Ugandan army blew up the Kagera Bridge at the start of the 1979 Uganda-Tanzania war. After the Ugandan forces had withdrawn from Tanzania – having occupied her territory for about 30 days - Idi Amin ordered for retreat back to Uganda. In order to curtail the movement of Tanzanian troops advancing into Uganda, they decided to destroy the Kagera Bridge. Kifulugunyu was in the Malire Mechanised Specialised Reconnaissance Regiment (MMSRR) which had some of the best tank squadrons; and so witnessed and “participated” in the blowing up of the German-built Kagera Bridge.

Speaking in Luganda, Kifulugunyu told Witness: “Enyonyi zalemwa okumenya orutindo. Nebaleta abakugu okuva e Kilembe Mines bebarumenya.” Loosely translated: “The jet bombers failed to destroy the bridge. So they brought experts from Kilembe Mines. It’s them who blew it.” While he recalls that the explosive experts were three in number, this reporter was able to establish that they were four - one Italian and three Ugandans.

“When they arrived, they entered the water, to assess the foundation of the bridge. We were a group of four soldiers holding a rope tied around each explosive expert to prevent them from being swept away by the strong current of the river. From the basement of the bridge, the four experts connected detonators, which they pressed and the bridge was blown into pieces,” Kifulugunyu said.
“After that, it was all jubilation. Partying and wining started there and then up to Kampala. We were satisfied that the Tanzania army could not attack us since we had managed to destroy the bridge they would use to cross into Uganda.” They were, however, wrong. Tanzanian troops erected pontoon to cross into Uganda.

Sergeant Kifulugunyu during his last public

Sergeant Kifulugunyu during his last public appearance in Busaabala on 15th October 2017. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

Kifulugunyu a mercenary in Chad
Earlier in 1965 when Uganda went to support Congolese nationalist rebels led by Moishe Tshombe, Kifulugunyu was among the soldiers who participated in that war. In 1973, when the late Col Muammar Gaddafi of Libya invaded Chad, Kifulugunyu was also among the soldiers of fortune. Uganda had sent some soldiers to train in Libya in a Commando Course.
When the course ended, Col Gaddafi told them that they had finished the theoretical part of it, next was the practical work.
“We went to Chad. Gaddafi had while addressing us alongside Libyan commandos said we were going for a mission and whoever comes back alive would be promoted. We managed to capture a whole strip in Chad,” Kifulugunyu recalls. After the mission, they returned to Uganda and Kifulugunyu was sent to Iraq and later to former Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics for further training.

Kifulugunyu the prisoner
After the 1979 war, Kifulugunyu like all former Uganda army soldiers was imprisoned. But in 1980, he managed to escape with other ex-servicemen from Upper Maximum Security Prison, Luzira. For three years, he hid in Mubende District until 1984 when a one Kasinzi took him to the National Resistance Army (NRA) rebels. But on the day he arrived in the bush, Kifulugunyu was arrested. This was after he said he had been in the UA but had escaped from jail.

“They couldn’t believe my story. They thought I was a spy. And I was detained in a trench for two days. With my guitar, I started singing for the prisoners.” After two days, I was set free and made the OC Morale. I liked the title. I started calling myself OC “omuraaro”. My major role in the bush was to entertain fighters,” Kifulugunyu says.
One of his best compositions is the morale boost song “Omoto nawaka” one of the famous NRA rebel songs. In 2008, at the rank of Warrant Officer Class I (WOI), obtained in 1973, Kifulugunyu was retired from the national army after 44 years of soldiering. Today, he ekes a living by selling NRA songs on CDs and films in Kampala.

2 days 18 hours ago

A mini survey by The Observer has found that in the last five years, health workers have gone on strike at least 20 times in protest at poor pay and working conditions.

Most strikes had been localised in various districts and sometimes gone unnoticed but this ongoing countrywide strike is the first since 1996. The localised strikes would easily be crushed by government agencies or security informants like the residential district commissioners (RDCs). Nonetheless, they tell a story of a sector that has literally collapsed.

This means every year, at least four strikes involving health workers happen somewhere around the country. A medical doctor told us that the number would be high but “many health workers sometimes choose to suffer silently because of fear to be reprimanded.”

He added that unless it is a countrywide industrial action, many choose to stomach their grievances. The Observer has found that most of the strikes are about delayed pay. Some health workers worked for as many as six months without pay before they laid down  their tools.

For instance, in December 2015, health workers in Lyantonde hospital protested after they went five months without pay. The strike left hundreds of patients stranded without any assistance.

The health workers pleaded with government to at least give them a package to take them through the Christmas season.

In December 2016, health workers in Mbarara regional referral hospital put down their tools after they spent six months without pay.

Intern doctors have also demonstrated more than any other group, an indicator of a tumultuous relationship between government and this group, which actually helps fill up gaps in public health facilities that are under-staffed.

In 2016, the medical interns went on strike twice due to unpaid allowances and marched to parliament to demand that their grievances be heard.

In most of these strikes, health workers have been bulldozed back to work. In April last year, Jinja workers were threatened back to work. The current countrywide strike is a build-up that has been piling up over the poor conditions in the sector.

Dr Ekwaro Obuku, president of the Uganda Medical Association (UMA), said they have been struggling for better working conditions since 1996.

He said since then, there had never been a countrywide strike for health workers. However, the sporadic strikes that have been happening in different districts spoke to a failing system. He told The Observer in an interview last week: “We are talking about a sector that has collapsed.”

The continued strikes among health workers shows a clear lack of political will to solve the medical professionals’ issues.

Last year, President Museveni rejected a pay rise plea from doctors, instead promising them land where they could build a Sacco and start saving. He said the state needed to focus on strategic investments that need a one-time expenditure yet have an influence on the system.

“Educated people like you [doctors] must address these bottlenecks in a prioritised way. When we are discussing priorities, we need to focus on those that don’t need recurrent expenditure like salaries,” Museveni reportedly told health workers at a dinner organised by UMA.

POOR HANDLING

Almost all strikes have been handled with government officials threatening health workers to go back to work. On some occasions, the health workers have been promised to have their dues paid promptly.

In September last year, Health minister Jane Aceng denounced the medical interns in Mulago who called for a strike. She told parliament then: “Currently, the ministry of Health does not have any interns.

“The group that went on strike, we don’t know them. You only become an intern when you have been taken on.
“So before you are taken on, you are between a student and being taken on.”

Threats come from different officials, RDCs and district chairpersons being the main actors that threaten to sack striking medics.

On Thursday last week, Aceng called a press conference at 8pm at the ministry of Health offices in Wandegeya. He told journalists that the doctors’ strike was illegal and they should go back to work or be fired. The doctors refused.

On Monday, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda twitted that “Cabinet had established a committee to engage doctors to bring the industrial action to an end.”

PLACE

MONTH

REASON FOR STRIKE

Mbarara referral hospital

October 2012

Delayed pay

Jinja referral hospital

August 2012

Delayed pay

Mulago referral hospital

December 2012

Unpaid allowances

Kanungu district

July, 2013

Delayed salaries

Fort Portal hospital

May, 2013

Delayed pay

Kalangala district

March, 2014

Delayed pay

Kotido district

July 2014

Delayed pay

Soroti district

November 2014

Delayed salaries

Mbale medical interns

November 2014

Unpaid allowances

Mbale medical interns

May 2015

Unpaid allowances

Mulago interns

May 2015

Unpaid allowances

Lyantonde district

December 2015

Salary non-payment

Jinja hospital

April 2016

Doctor’s arrest

Mulago hospital interns

May 2016

Unpaid allowances

Mulago hospital interns

September 2016

Unpaid allowances

Kagadi district

September 2016

Delayed Salaries

Mbarara referral hospital

December 2016

No pay for six months

Mbarara referral hospital

April 2017

Delayed pay

Mulago interns

April 2017

Unpaid allowances

Countrywide

November 2017

Salary enhancement, duty facilitation allowance, and call to include interns in public service structure.

amwesigwa@observer.ug

2 days 18 hours ago

Dr Ekwaro Obuku, the president of the Uganda Medical Association, has said the medical workers' sit-down strike couldn't have come at a better time than when the government is trying to sell to the public the age limit removal bill. He spoke to Baker Batte Lule on Monday, November 13. Excerpts:-

Dr Ekwaro Obuku

Why did you call for this industrial action now?

The last time doctors called a nationwide industrial action was 20 years ago in 1996 and it led to the birth of the Uganda Medical Workers’ Union.

We have been engaging the state back and forth and salaries have improved from Shs 150,000 to Shs 1 million but that is not commensurate with the inflation.

Last year we presented a paper, the Mungherera petition on duty facilitation allowance to parliament to consider. We thought that they would look into it but they didn’t; so, there was a build-up of frustration and despair over the years.

Look at the public service evaluation report of 2000. If you look at the single-spine structure option, the doctor is placed at the top but other bureaucrats below the doctor are paid more.

All these beautiful structures built by the government are appreciated but the supply of the medicine is chronically inadequate. Some patients can buy for themselves drugs, others can’t. But blood and oxygen are not something you can buy from a shop or pharmacy; these depend on the efficiency of the health system.

So, if the system can’t manage the supply, that is why Uganda falls under the highly fragile state index where the government is not able to provide basic social services to its people.

The precipitator of the strike was the wanton arrest of doctors by the State House Health Monitoring Unit (HMU). This continuing harassment of doctors from parallel units, yet there are professional bodies established by law such as the Uganda Medical and Dental Council, is what we are resisting. The third reason had to do with working conditions of health workers; salary, housing and others.

Does this mean HMU arrests doctors anyhow or there is something with doctors that also needs to be sorted out?

What we are saying is doctors are human and come from the same community. Definitely, we have our bad apples but we have a professional way of handling it.

We are mainly focusing on professional malpractice. We are not talking about doctors who do deals on drugs. Those we have no problem holding them accountable. We are talking about a mother dying and something comes up that you are unprofessional.

That’s why the medical and dental council was established; to sort out professional misconduct but this parallel unit does not discriminate. It handles us as if we are petty criminals; people’s names have been spoilt.
 
When you say you have a problem with HMU, why don’t you challenge its legality?

We agree in principle that there should be firm monitoring of health services to ensure a return on investment of taxpayers’ money.

What is being done is a disincentive to an already disinterested doctor. The approach of the HMU is the wrong one. No one wants drugs stolen; we are saying corruption should be fought upstream first because that’s where you are most likely to make gains because hospitals are signing for drugs they don’t receive.


People agree that your salaries should be increased but say your demands are preposterous.

Common sense will tell you that if you are bargaining; name your best price, then you can work it down. Most importantly, it is informed by research. We have done research in Africa in comparable economies.

Where the economies are stronger, we have done research to adjust for GDP so much that you cannot argue that because Kenya has a bigger economy they pay better. We know that Kenya’s economy is nearly three times that of Uganda. The purchasing power parity is $1,500 per capita but Uganda’s is about $600.

But when you adjust the salary of a senior consultant in Uganda and that of Kenya, you find a big disparity that’s why our doctors have moved to Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa and South Sudan for better working conditions.

You can’t imagine that a beginning doctor is paid the same salary like a cook at Makerere University. Shs 3.5 million earned by a medical consultant is the same salary a teaching assistant gets at Makerere. Parliament, cabinet and all these statutory institutions have private health insurance schemes but they allow the rest of Ugandans to suffer. This inequity is what we are talking about.

We are talking about 430 MPs vis-a-vis 1,300 doctors…

Our strategy in this industrial action is informed by historical accounts and research. One of the researches that we did was to compare the earnings and the wage bills.

We looked at the wage bill of parliament; it was Shs 200 billion. The additional Shs 100 billion we are asking for is only to cover 1,300 doctors, not even at their market rates.

The other one I said is a road map to Vision 2040. If you look at the work that MPs do and their qualifications, the value in society, you will know that we can’t exist without people to treat us. Society can exist without a parliament, we can have a dictator who is benevolent. We can abolish parliament, but you can’t do away with somebody who is going to treat you.

Doctors make a direct contribution to the economy but what has parliament done to improve productivity of the health sector?
Uganda’s poverty index has increased from about 17 percent to about 27 percent since the recent few years and here we are investing more in politics instead of the people.

When you speak of MPs’ salaries, fragile state etc, you come off more as a politician …

Ben Carson, a former Republican US presidential candidate, wrote: “I believe it is a very good idea for physicians, scientists, engineers and others trained to make decisions based on facts and empirical data to get involved in the political arena. You know you send a thief to catch a thief…I have the advantage of entering a political science class in my health policy PhD class.

I know very well that social services delivery is a political problem, political question and a political solution. Let’s look at Cuba; a country with relatively low income, socialist-communist ideals, focuses on the masses, less capitalist, has one of the best and strongest health systems, the quality of life as reflected by the life expectancy which is even higher than many of the rich countries.

The US; capitalist and much more developed than Cuba, people are dying; the life expectancy is not as good as that of Cuba, the health system is very expensive because in capitalism, it is a man-eat-man situation; you don’t have money, you die.”

So, the politics and the type of health system are very important. Political commitment is very important without which you cannot finance the health sector; you cannot hire the right human resource, you cannot strengthen the supply chain.

The issue of talking politics is really talking the language that people who make the decisions can understand. You have to put it in such a way that the president realises that more social services delivery means more votes.

When the president is moving around, he promises a health centre, a hospital or a school. That’s why we can’t separate politics from health services. When Dr Kizza Besigye went to Abim hospital, it was exposed and that’s when it was rehabilitated. Politics is about service delivery. That’s why it is political.

I’m merely a loud speaker…They elected me overwhelmingly to talk for them. I’m the messenger.

Some people have questioned the timing of your industrial action, you lay down tools when the government is at its weakest trying to market a proposal that seems to be unpopular...

We promised when we were being elected that we will play the big boy’s league which is played at the political level. Our strategy is informed by research, by political science frameworks of setting the agenda.

When you are setting the agenda, the politics, the problem and the people, need to meet. The problem has been chronic and the people have organised themselves. The doctors have provided the leadership and Ugandans have supported them saying this is a problem that needs attention.

So far we are happy that we chose this time, it couldn’t have been better. We have been having negotiations with government; they have listened to us briefly and have shelved the issue. This time we are saying; can we conclude this discussion?

You are leading a campaign for better working conditions in government health centres but you don’t work in a government hospital…

It is true I have not worked in a public hospital for a long time but I can tell you I have used public hospitals. Very recently, my children have been born in public hospitals, my relatives use public hospitals. But most of all I contribute taxes to these public hospitals. My members of the Uganda Medical Association work in public hospitals and I visit them.  

I supervised HIV programmes, worked with the ministry of health providing technical service provisions in public hospitals. I do consultancies in public hospitals. Therefore, I’m more public than many think.

How do you react to minister of health Jane Ruth Aceng’s claim that UMA is an illegal entity?

Ugandans can interpret for themselves. The minister was ill-advised because the Uganda Medical Association broke away from the British Medical Association in 1964.

So, UMA is older than even the NRM party she belongs to. We were registered in 1974 as a public entity. In 2005, we registered as a company limited by guarantee. So, we are legal. We have those papers; they are public and the government keeps them for us.  

Secondly we are legitimate; we have a membership that is credible including the minister herself [and], the former minister Dr Christine Ondoa. The permanent secretary, Dr Diana Atwine is a strong member.

Other high-profile government officials like Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, Dr Mike Bukenya, the chair of the parliamentary committee on health; Prof. Francis Omaswa, Dr Speciosa Kazibwe all these are members and they pay their membership fees promptly.

What is the way forward out of this?

The way forward is negotiations. There are international principles that describe the arrangement of comprehensive collective bargaining. What we want from government is a signed collective bargaining agreement which we will use as a point of reference for what is due to Uganda Medical Association.

Some things cannot wait like the supplementary budget for drugs. The second thing that cannot wait are the administrative issues, like establishing that position of an intern doctor and senior house officer in the public service. Put them in the public service structure and pay them according to the agreed salary scale.

bakerbatte@observer.ug    

2 days 18 hours ago

On Friday, November 10, Wilson Tumwine, the former mayor of Mbarara municipality, appeared before the commission of inquiry into land matters.

He was asked to explain the massive encroachment on three forest reserves. He was also accused of helping private developers gain access to the forest reserve land.

During cross-examination led by assistant lead counsel, John Bosco Suuza, Tumwine twisted himself in knots. ALI TWAHA brings you an abridged version of the proceedings:-

Wilson Tumwine, the former mayor of Mbarara 

Suuza: Please state your name for the record.
Tumwine: Wilson Tumwine, former mayor, Mbarara municipality.

Suuza: You have been attending these hearings for the last three or four days. You heard a number of testimonies in which your name features prominently in the process leading up to the grabbing of land by a number of individuals within central forest reserves like Rwemitongore I and II and Ruti. Tell us under what circumstances did you get involved in the loss of this land?

Tumwine: I may not have been involved in influencing that encroachment. But from 2002 when I became mayor, I believe Rwemitongore I and Rwemitongore II were already encroached upon, I think between 2003 and 2003.

My role as mayor was to write to the executive director of National Forestry Authority (NFA) informing him of the encroachment. As council, we made sure that all those who were encroaching on those areas did not get their plans approved.

Suuza: The very first time you dealt with this matter was writing to NFA and alerting them. That’s all you did?
Tumwine: That’s what we did and fortunately, the executive director of NFA and his team came and visited those areas, identified the encroachment and promised that they were going to tackle it. Since then, I don’t recall anytime when they tried to do that.
Suuza: Unfortunately, we do not have a record of your letter to NFA. Do you remember the name of the executive director of NFA?
Tumwine: It’s Mr [Michael] Mugisa.
Suuza: The picture I’m getting is of a mayor concerned about public property who tries to take some measures. At what point did you decide that we should not protect these forest reserves but have them degazetted?

Tumwine: You will discover that because of many reasons, especially when we got the population explosion and needed more land for industrial development in the municipality. We also discovered that these so-called forests were becoming a habitat of criminals. Because they were not managed properly, they became a habitat for mosquitos and health hazards.

I personally could not see the value for NFA to keep these areas. There were no trees grown. In our application for degazettement, we only  asked for Rwemitongore I which was about 30 hectares. Then Rwemitongore II which is about 11 hectares and Ruti area which is about 119 hectares. And we left out…  

Suuza: Mr Tumwine, it does not matter the size or whether there were trees or not. What matters is that this land was reserved for forestry purposes. As a leader concerned with the health of the people, why did you decide that this land has to go?

Tumwine: That’s what I was explaining. Kamukuzi which is four hectares was left as a forest. And Rwemitongore III which is 43 hectares was left as a forest. In modern development, my lord, it’s not that if we degazette these three areas, we are totally going to destroy the forest cover.  

Suuza: We have land which is specifically reserved for forestry purposes. Now you’re telling us that the right way to do that is allocate it to private individuals and take it away from the body mandated with promotion of forests. I don’t think that makes any sense. What did you do [next] having made that decision?
Tumwine: We applied to NFA to degazette those three areas which I think totalled about 160 hectares.
Suuza: Do you remember when you applied to NFA?
Tumwine: I wouldn’t recall.      
Suuza: Did you get a response from NFA?
Tumwine: We did. They asked us to fulfil certain conditions and regulations which we did.

Suuza: What were those conditions?
Tumwine: To get alternative land equivalent or more than the area we wanted to degazette. To make sure that that area is surveyed. To get an environmental impact assessment done for both areas.

After, we were asked to establish a structural plan for those areas we wanted to degazette so that it complies with development of the municipality. We did and submitted them to the ministries of urban development, local government and to the office of the president…

Suuza: Let’s go back to the reasons as to why you thought you needed to have this land degazetted. I’m sure you have a home and that there is some form of vegetation around it, there is a chance that a criminal can hide in those tress or mosquitos can stay there. Do you ever consider destroying them because of that?
Tumwine: I don’t think that one would come into my mind. If you visited Mbarara municipality, border to border; you will discover that we established more trees along the roads and compounds. A good example is that one behind us.
Bamugemereire: Was that done in your time as mayor?
Tumwine: Yes, those ones on the roadside were put there by myself.
Bamugemereire: Really? People who have been to this [Ntare] school 50 years ago will tell you that this place has become less green?
Tumwine: I’m talking…

Bamugemereire: Can you keep quiet and listen. By the way, we need you to understand that you are before the commission to listen and answer. And we are doing an audit of your time as mayor. So don’t roll eyes and feel too important. I advise you to be calm and answer the questions.

Justice Catherine Bamugemereire

Suuza: I’m just not convinced about your reasons to give away the forest reserve.
Tumwine: My lord, what I said is that those forest reserves were supposed to be properly managed.
Suuza: And therefore?
Tumwine: We wrote to NFA to make sure the existing green is cleared such that criminals do not have anywhere to hide and mosquitoes certainly would be reduced in those areas. Before I left as mayor, they wrote back proposing that Rwemitongore III is managed under eco-tourism.

Suuza: You said there was population expansion and that people needed land, there are many people in this area, did they all get land with the assistance of Mbarara municipality?
Tumwine: Yes.  
Suuza: In what way?
Tumwine: Most of this land before 1995 was managed and controlled by Mbarara municipality. And whenever, you wanted to develop any of these areas, you would apply to Mbarara municipality.
Suuza: Do you still have any land to give out?
Tumwine: No, thank you.
Suuza: What I want to understand is why you thought it was your duty to facilitate the appropriation of government land in order to satisfy the needs of imaginary people.
Tumwine: My lord, according to degazettement regulations, it’s only urban authorities that are supposed to apply and, therefore, on behalf of our people as a municipal council, we thought that was the legal way.

Suuza: You said that in the fulfillment of the conditions prescribed by NFA, you acquired alternative land somewhere, where did you acquire it?
Tumwine: In Kyeera, Kiruhura district.
Suuza: How did you acquire it?
Tumwine: We actually asked people to look for any land that was about 168 hectares.  
Suuza: Which people did you ask?
Tumwine: Everybody…
Suuza: When you say we asked everybody, I want to know how did you go about it?
Tumwine: As council, we go to councillors and ask them if they knew anybody with that land within the vicinity and at the end of it Kiruhura was the only area we got land that was favourable for tree planting. Secondly, it was of the equivalent acreage and therefore we thought we could go in for that.
Suuza: The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, I think, applies to municipal authorities. Am I right?
Tumwine: Yes, sir.

Suuza: It prescribes procedures by which government may purchase goods, services and property. So, under what method would that approach that you adopted in the council fall?  
Tumwine: I think there is when you can identify a capable supplier. Secondly, you can advertise and [there is] direct procurement. And that is the one we used to get that land because, according to the law, you have to get that land valued before…
Bamugemereire: No. According to the law, what justification did you have for having a direct procurement?
Tumwine: For me as a mayor, I only oversee the technical operations. I don’t procure and I don’t influence procurement.
Suuza: Who made this proposal to the council?
Tumwine: I think the town clerk.
Suuza: You had nothing to do with it?  
Tumwine: You see, the town clerk would personally bring an idea into the executive committee. It approves of it; it presents it to council then it approves it.

Suuza: You said your job is to oversee the technical staff of the municipal council, when they proposed to have a direct procurement as opposed to open bidding, did you not ask any questions?
Tumwine: Yes please.
Suuza: What questions did you ask?  
Tumwine: I asked whether we had any other alternative land apart from that one. And they said no.
Bamugemereire: The issue is not the land but the method used to procure the land.
Tumwine: (Witness remains silent.)        
Suuza: Did it not strike you as perhaps you are going to spend Shs 230 million in the context of a process that was not transparent?
Tumwine: The town clerk and the technical staff had only one piece of land and they went for direct procurement of that land.
Suuza: We heard that but before they decided, what processes did they undertake? And we are telling you that they should have conducted an open bidding process because that’s what the law says. The question is why did you not raise any issues?
Tumwine: It was my job but I couldn’t do otherwise.

Suuza: I want to put it to you that the involvement of you and your council in this process was a breach of the law and amounted to abuse of office. You said you wrote to NFA but I have not seen your letter. But I have two letters from NFA. One is dated February 18, 2008 and another September 27, 2011. I want you to look at both letters starting with the one of September. To whom is it addressed?
Tumwine: To the mayor.
Suuza: What is the subject?
Tumwine: Occupation permits in Mbarara CFR (central forest reserve)
Suuza: What was going on?
Tumwine: Actually, that was hearsay because as far as Mbarara municipality is concerned, we have never issued any leases in the forest reserves.
Suuza: He is talking of you allocating plots of land?
Tumwine: Maybe me as a municipality and not as the mayor.
Suuza: But it was addressed to you and you’re the head of the municipality. You have to answer the questions.

Tumwine: That’s what I’m saying.
Suuza: Did you respond to that letter?
Tumwine: I did not. I put notes for the town clerk to reply.
Suuza: What was supposed to be the reply?
Tumwine: We were supposed to reply saying we are aware the process of degazettement is ongoing and we had no authority to allocate. And I asked the town clerk to make sure that he identifies whoever is supposed to do the environmental impact assessment and they do it as hurriedly as possible.
Suuza: Let’s go to the next letter. What’s the subject?
Tumwine: Clearing of land in Mbarara plantation Ruti block.
Suuza: What is the complaint?
Tumwine: “…advise Mbarara municipal authorities to halt intended development activities until the ongoing degazetement process is concluded.”

Suuza: This is NFA again complaining that the institution that you head was involved in the giveaway of the forest reserve despite the fact that there was no degazettement order.
Tumwine: If I recall very well, we never went to Ruti to clear any piece of land.
Suuza: So, why do they keep writing to you?
Tumwine: I don’t know.
Suuza: How did you pay for the alternative land in Kiruhura?
Tumwine: Council paid for the land.
Suuza: Where did you get the money?
Tumwine: It was hurriedly solicited from the wananchi (the people) to make sure that land was bought. We also asked ministry of local government to allow us a loan.
Suuza: Three questions; what was the hurry for? Under what legal provision did you get this money and who are the wananchi and how did you identify them?

Tumwine: We tried to look for land but it was in vain and this was the only land that was available. Unfortunately, the owner of that land also wanted money hurriedly. Council did not have any money available apart from the budget which had no money budgeted for [that].

Council approved that we would get money from whoever was willing to give us the money interest free and we pay back after we had got the loan.

Suuza: I ask you: what law allows you to borrow money from private individuals?
Tumwine: The land that was being acquired was for private developers. Council was procuring this land on behalf of the population and therefore…
Suuza: And, therefore, you thought it was a private transaction? How do you borrow money on behalf of the municipal council?
Tumwine: First of all, you have to get an approval from council. You also have to get a letter of authorisation from the ministry of local government.
Suuza: Did you get authorisation from the ministry?
Tumwine: Local government gave us authorisation to borrow Shs 150 million if I still remember.
Suuza: From where?
Tumwine: From the bank.
Suuza: Now I’m asking you about authorisation to borrow from your friends.
Tumwine: It was allowed by council.  

Suuza: Mr Tumwine, there is a difference between a reason and an excuse. What you are giving us are excuses and they are not helping you. The fact is, you did not get authorisation from the ministry of local government. Why?
Tumwine: In council, our legal officer is the town clerk. He is the one who requested council for that permission.  
Suuza: How many people did you borrow that money from?
Tumwine: I think they were many; I don’t remember the number. But what I’m aware of is that we were able to get Shs 240 million. And so far, municipality has refunded Shs 190.4 million.
Suuza: Who received this money?
Tumwine: The treasurer.
Suuza: We have records that show that you received that money personally. Take a look at this letter and read it.
Tumwine: “...the following are details of funds received from Mr Tumwine towards the purchase of land in Kyeera refunded to him following the auditor general’s recommendation.”  

Suuza: So money from these intending developers was paid to you personally contrary to the claim that it was paid to the treasurer. What do you have to say about that?
Tumwine: When the town clerk requested for this money from council, it is clearly written in the minutes that they mandated the town clerk and the mayor to get this money from the community.
Suuza: What we want is a clear answer. Did you receive this money personally?
Tumwine: With my hand, I never received money. This money came through me as a mayor to the treasurer and there is a book where people were submitting to the treasurer.
Bamugemereire: Somehow public money went through you?
Tumwine: The trust the community had is that they will only give council that money through me.
Bamugemereire: Good. I think that is the answer.

Suuza: What this shows me is that this was a project conceived by you, midwifed by you, and benefited from by you as an individual. And there is only one word to describe it; corruption. That is all I get from this whole thing. Am I correct?
Tumwine: No, my lord.
Suuza: [In another council minute] You told your colleagues on the committee that you intended to borrow money. In what capacity were you intending to borrow that money yet you said, you’re not the accounting officer?  
Tumwine: That was the mayor, not me.
Suuza: I beg your pardon?
Tumwine: That was the mayor in the chair and not me Tumwine as an individual.
Suuza: That’s interesting. But who were these intending developers and the friends of council?
Tumwine: The communities are the ones who form the council.

Suuza: When our investigators came to you, you told them you have a lorry of land titles and you went further to say the land was already taken anyway. Those land titles that can fill a lorry, are you telling us that there is no single title that can be found in any of these forest reserves?
Tumwine: My lord, your first statement about your investigators, I have not met even one investigator. I as Tumwine did not go into the lorry full of rubbish.
Suuza: Mr Tumwine, watch your language. Looking back, are you proud of the role you played in this matter?
Tumwine: Which matter?
Suuza: The issue of the three forest reserves, Rwemitongore I, II and Ruti?
Tumwine: Our role as mayors is not even to allocate and that is a technical responsibility.

alitwaha@observer.ug

2 days 18 hours ago

our partners