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in the media

Police on Tuesday arrested a presidential advisor with ivory worth Shs 1bn in his house in Makindye, a Kampala suburb.

Yekoyada Nuwagaba, a presidential advisor on politics, was picked up on Monday by detectives attached to the Flying Squad, a police violent crime crack unit.

Esther Mbayo, the minister for presidency, confirmed Nuwagaba is a presidential advisor. She, however, said she was not aware of his current troubles.

According to the Flying Squad commander Herbert Muhangi, Nuwagaba was arrested by a joint team of his operatives and officials from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) after a tip-off from informers.

“This man on Monday called some businessmen whom we cannot disclose and told them how he was selling ivory and other materials worth Shs 1bn,” Muhangi said.

Yekoyada Nuwagaba recording a statement at Central Police Station (CPS) on Tuesday

Muhangi said that after getting the tip-off, detectives contacted officials from UWA and stormed Nuwagaba’s home in Makindye disguising as potential buyers.

“After we reached an agreement to buy the ivory at Shs 800m, we pulled out our identity cards and arrested him,” Muhangi said.

Muhangi said all the ivory and other related items have been taken to UWA head office in Kamwokya for examination.

“UWA will first test the ivory and when it confirms it’s ivory, he will be charged because ivory business is illegal,” he said.

Nuwagaba was also taken to his other home in Kawuku, along Entebbe road, where police claims to have recovered sensitive documents. Last Saturday, Flying Squad operatives also arrested three foreigners with two tonnes of ivory valued at $3 million (approximately Shs 11 billion)

Illegally dealing in ivory carries a maximum sentence of seven years in jail or payment of a fine not exceeding the price of the confiscated ivory.

2 days 4 hours ago

BETTY NAMBOOZE, the Mukono municipality MP and Democratic Party regional president for Buganda, has challenged her party president general Norbert Mao to speak out openly about which DP, "the good or bad," he belongs to.

Her challenge follows a recent reference by President Museveni to Fred Mukasa Mbidde as a good DP. Mbidde is the DP national vice president. Speaking to Baker Batte Lule at her home, Nambooze said it was high time Mao worked to rid the party of all 'NRM' members who are passing themselves off as DP. Below are excerpts.

What do you make of the recent appointment of your former DP national chairman Muhammad Kezaala as an ambassador?

You know [President] Museveni has been having these people in the opposition working for him. Like any other leader, he carried out a reshuffle and made some redeployments; so, Kezaala was called back to serve at his party’s headquarters.

You mean he has been NRM all along?

Yes, he has always been NRM but what I don’t know is at what point he joined the NRM. But if you see the way they have been running DP, you would realize that they were no longer running it in the interest of the party. I’m happy that Museveni has chosen to redeploy Kezaala in another position. My only worry is, I don’t know who has now taken on his [Kezaala] role in DP.

If you knew he was NRM, why did you accept to work with him all this time?

I have never accepted to work with him but I accepted to work for my party. Even in very bad communities, there are a few good individuals who work for the good of that community.

Why didn’t you say Kezaala was NRM before he was ‘redeployed’?

Actually I did; go and ask him whether, as DP chairman, he chaired any meeting where Nambooze sat. Not everything we do, we publicize. I have never attended any meeting chaired by Kezaala because I knew I couldn’t sit under his chairmanship to deliberate for DP. I don’t want to sit with NRM people to plot against NRM.

Before you became a leader in DP, you knew the kind of people you were going to work with. Why are you complaining now?

Everybody who was at Katomi [Kingdom hotel, where the DP delegates’ conference took place in 2015] knows that Nambooze has never sought a leadership position. I decided to go to Katomi because people had gathered in the name of the party I support.

At Katomi we had different groups of people. There were those who genuinely believe in DP, there were some rented audiences [crowds] from Arua park who posed as delegates from Western and Northern Uganda. Then there were those from Kampala who go to any gathering to spy, and security guys from government.

When people saw me, they pleaded that I take up that office [president Buganda region]. The requirement was that to be a leader, you had to apply days before and pay Shs 300,000. I didn’t do any of those things but DP needs leadership.

It’s unfortunate that I have been sick for a year but you are going to see how I’m going to use that position. I hope that the good DP doesn’t chase me away. What I intend to do for DP in Buganda, even people working for Museveni are going to know that their time is up. After all, DP is in Buganda.

What do you say of Norbert Mao’s leadership as DP president?

Mao knows he became DP president general through a coup that was facilitated by foreign forces. For me, I gave him all my support hoping that he would repent and allow the party to go through a process that would produce legitimate and legally elected leaders.

When I see him on NBS TV’s frontline talking about Museveni’s problems, I say maybe this man knows what he is talking about. I don’t know where he gets that temptation to do wrong things yet when you talk to him you hear a democrat talking. But eventually he ends up [to be] just a talker. When you listen to Mao talk, you can say this is a leader but wait until he leaves the microphone, he can’t even kill a fly if that fly is the problem of Uganda.

But you said he has killed DP.

Mao hasn’t killed DP. But people who wanted to kill DP installed him to stop an able leader from taking that office. But DP is an idea that can’t be killed, what Mao has done is stall it.

I have heard you amplify the idea of good and bad DP; where does Mao belong?

It is up to him to tell the country where he belongs. I didn’t coin that word; it was Museveni who said there are some good DP members who work for NRM. For us who stick to the ideals of DP on which the party was founded, we are bad before Museveni and any other dictator.

For now, we will leave the good DP to Museveni and take the bad DP because that is what offers bad news to dictators like Museveni. For the time being, I have offered to lead that group and if Mao is part of us, let him come over, I will be very happy to hand over to him.

So, are you carrying out a coup against Mao?

I’m carrying out a coup against Museveni’s DP. I hope Mao will be very happy with me for re-emphasizing his position. What I’m doing is leading a new voice that calls for sanity in the party. A president who loves his party will support any member who calls for sanity.

Have you talked to him?

I have decided to write to him and very soon he will get my letter. I’m suggesting that it’s high time we carried out major reforms in the party. We need to rebrand, come up with a code of conduct for members, re-discuss the term of office for leaders; one year is so short a term. It’s high time we also separated the DP leadership from the party’s flag bearers.

Are you considering standing as DP president general?

Even if I’m to stand as DP president general in the current arrangement, I will also be defeated. We should first talk about reforms in the party, then we will get the right leaders. You don’t go to Kampala and pick up people and then line them up to vote for you as president general; that is mob justice.

Why did you go to Katomi yet you were privy to all this detail?

How could I have known this if I had kept away? I kept away from the Mao mob for five years [from]  2011 to 2016. It did not work; it is only a mad man who does the same thing and every time he expects different results.

If I had travelled with the Maos to Mbale [for the 2010 DP delegates’ conference], I would have been given a very big office but I didn’t go. For five years, I waited to see whether my keeping away would yield any results; it didn’t. This time I decided I will take the bull by the horns. I went to Katomi and found the mob good enough. I also found a delegation from Buganda who said they wanted me to lead them.
 
Do you see anyone in DP with capacity to lead the party to another level? There is talk that the lord mayor [Erias Lukwago] has some interest.

The struggle we have undertaken will be misunderstood if I started pointing at individuals as possible leaders. I don’t want to discuss my good friend Erias Lukwago but I will be comforted if people like him return to offer the party their energies.

Speaking about Lukwago, you fell out with him when you decided to side with Mao’s DP. What is your current relationship with him like?

That is a question you can also answer. Is Lukwago my enemy; he is not. This time round we differed in strategy. In 2010 we agreed that we should not go to Mbale.

In 2016, I was for confronting Mao and for him he chose to keep away. I think that is a small contradiction for politicians to keep as a grudge. The principle was the same; for me I was for confronting Mao and for him, he said let’s start TJ [Truth and Justice], a breakaway faction we would use to reform DP. How successful that has been is a discussion for another day.

Has it occurred to you that some people might interpret this as a Buganda strategy to dislodge Mao?

So, do they want me to denounce my being a Muganda? Mao has always cited these tribal sentiments; that he is being fought because he is not a Muganda. I will never be made to explain myself over my tribe. My issues are very clear; nowhere in my submission have I said that things in DP are not moving well because of a tribe.

But they always raise the issue of tribes as a tool of blackmail. Should I go and hang myself because I was born a Muganda? I’m not a Muganda by application, neither is Mao an Acholi by application.

When it comes to issues of either building a hospital or shrine in Mengo palace, I don’t expect Mao to turn up. However, we are talking about the Democratic Party and nobody should use the tribal card to intimidate people raising pertinent issues about the party. Blackmail as a tool is outdated to be used on modern politicians like me; my issues are very clear.

Earlier you said DP is only in Buganda; wouldn’t one be right to conclude that because the party is in Buganda, you feel it should be led by a Muganda?

Those are your words, for me what I said is that when we go for elections, it is only here in Buganda that you find organized DP structures. In other areas people rent delegates. I traveled to Karamoja and I kept asking who is DP here; you couldn’t even find an LC-I chairman belonging to DP.
 
You have also termed as machinations, dealings between NRM and DP over Eala [East African Legislative Assembly]. Can you throw more light?

There is a clear syndicate between the two parties. The fact of the matter is that NRM is going to vote for itself and DP. But frankly for me Eala is just a small matter. After all, it is just a mock parliament; so, Mbidde can go. There is no problem with that. Let him go without any pretence; he is going there to represent the interest of Museveni in that mock parliament.

So, you say Mbidde is NRM?

I’m saying he is going there to represent the interests of Museveni. Leaders in these East African countries have interests they want to export to the regional body; so, Museveni thinks that his interests can only be catered for if all the nine MPs are people he can relate with and [they] take orders nicely.

It so happens that our own Mbidde has been identified as one of those people who fit within Museveni’s context. You know Mbidde struggled to join parliament; he did everything, including standing in different constituencies, and he didn’t make it. So, out of desperation, he entered a deal with not even the NRM but Museveni as a person.

Which kind of deal did he make with Museveni?

You scratch my back and I scratch yours. When he goes to that international forum, he will not do things that antagonize Museveni’s leadership. Leaders in Africa got worried by the example set by Ecowas, [West African regional grouping that ousted long-serving Gambia leader Yahya Jammeh]; so, they are no longer taking these regional groupings for granted. Museveni wants to be sure that people he sends to Eala don’t build up pillars as strong as those of Ecowas.

So, Mbidde is not any different from the other NRM six members?

In fact, he is more important to Museveni than those other six members. He feels that NRM has done him a favor and in politics it is those people who occupy positions out of favor who will outdo themselves to please their masters. There is no bigger prize than when you are being praised by somebody who is supposed to critique you.

You say FDC has no chance whatsoever of sending a representative to Eala?
Unless they learn the tricks that produce Eala MPs.

Which are...

You go silently and kneel before the man who gives; the one with the majority in parliament and swear that you will not do anything directly or indirectly that will put his interests at stake.
 
In your view, has Museveni succeeded in annihilating the opposition like he vowed to do last year?

On the surface it appears as if he has succeeded in destroying the opposition. But let me tell you, the darkest hour of the night is the first hour of the new day; dictators always collapse when they appear to be at their strongest.

Yes, I admit that we might appear to be at our weakest but this gives us the reason to go and reorganize. It’s through these challenging times that we will build a strong opposition. The biggest asset we have is that the population is solidly together saying they have had enough of Museveni.

2 days 4 hours ago

Dr Boney Katatumba, a businessman, property mogul and diplomat, died yesterday, leaving behind a legacy of successful accomplishments and a reminder that life is not always a smooth ride. He was 71.

Katatumba will be remembered for his business acumen, which saw him accumulate property in the 1980s, including a private aircraft that he piloted himself. He exploited every opportunity to talk about what he loved so much.

On January 14, 2017, at the peak of the battle between Olive Kigongo and Andrew Rugasira for the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UNCCI) presidency, Katatumba wrote a short note to the latter: “The UNCCI needs new dynamic leadership and [to] pick lessons from when it was vibrant.”

“Come and we talk,” he added.

On vibrancy, Katatumba was referring to his time as leader of the chamber of commerce for five years from 1996 – then, it was seen as one of the most active umbrella bodies, advocating for the rights of business owners and entrepreneurs. As news of his death trickled in yesterday, businessmen and friends took to his Facebook wall to eulogize him.

RIP: Boney Katatumba

Betty Kabubi wrote: “Rest in peace Uncle Boney; you were one in a million. You thought above and beyond for everyone in your family.”

During his tenure as UNCCI president, Katatumba met Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf while leading Ugandan business delegations to the rice-growing nation. Musharraf later became Pakistan’s president. That’s when Katatumba was appointed the consul general of the republic of Pakistan in 1999.

That was not just it. His love for business saw him climb more ladders. In 1999, while still the UNCCI president, he was appointed chairman of the G77 Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the United Nations, representing at least 133 developing countries. But that came when he had already made his mark.

His story starts somewhere in Mbarara, where he was born in April 1946. In the story, which he often told to journalists, Katatumba said he began selling banana juice to passengers aboard buses plying the Mbarara-Kabale route when he was only seven at Nyamitanga primary school. He would even employ some older villagers to squeeze and pack the juice while he went to school.

And it was here that he discovered his business blood or his knack to take risk. This would show when, during his S4 holidays from Ntare School, he saw an advertisement calling for expression of interest in managing Nganwa hostel, which he applied for and won.

He told Daily Monitor in 2012 that he was puzzled by how he maneuvered his way through the competition from both rich men and graduates in Mbarara. When he moved on to Old Kampala SS for A-level, he hired a trusted friend to run the tender on his behalf.

BIG THINGS

Big things were yet to come. According to his LinkedIn profile, Katatumba did a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Makerere University from 1969 to 1971. In an interview with NBS TV’s Kungula programme in 2014, he said he had studied management economics and sociology.

“After studying at Makerere, I started a company called Design, Construction and Material,” he told NBS. “My brother George Willian Katatumba, [the premier of the defunct Ankole kingdom] who studied architecture in Nairobi, inspired me to start construction business. When he came here, I said since I have a business mind [let me start a company we work together]”.

“I don’t have a fixed mind, I pick what makes money,” he said.

It was during this time that he started the construction of Hotel Diplomate at Tank hill in Muyenga. He could not finish it because he was forced into exile by Idi Amin after regime loyalists ordered for building materials from his company and he told them they were out of stock.

He completed the building in 1983 when he returned. At first, it was a residential home which he later turned into a hotel. As World Bank and IMF expatriates made endless trips to Uganda between 1988 and 1992, when the country adopted the structural adjustment policies (SAPs), they sometimes slept at his hotel, making him thousands of dollars.

Among his key properties was Katatumba Suites, which was later renamed Shumuk House in a heated dispute with businessman Mukesh Shukla. The former Black Lines House, which was redesigned as a condominium, Katutamba told NBS, has up to 92 plots.

“The beauty with this style of building is that you can sell some and stay with some plots [on the same building],” he said.

But it is this building that Katatumba has spent the last years of his life fighting to retain. It is a story of him making friends with Mukesh as a business partner who turned tormentor.

Describing Mukesh as a “conman” on his LinkedIn page, Katatumba writes that he “forged a lease on Katatumba Suites and planned with lands ministry officials to include Hotel Diplomate and Banda Island.”

Other sources, however, claimed that both Katatumba and Mukesh failed to live up to their part in the bargain, hence the protracted dispute. At one point, a court order was issued for Katatumba to vacate the building. In 2012, Katutumba claimed there was an attempt to kill him, perpetuated by his business nemesis Mukesh. The latter denied the allegation.

The High court’s Commercial division ruled in 2014 that the building should return to Katatumba. Mukesh appealed against the decision. At the time of his death, the appeal was yet to be heard.

A loving father, Katatumba was always present at his daughter Angella Katatumba’s music concerts. He was also a travel enthusiast. According to his LinkedIn page, Katatumba had nine children from three different mothers.

2 days 4 hours ago

Forum for Democratic Change president Mugisha Muntu has written to Parliament withdrawing Ingrid Kamateneti Turinawe from the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) race, barely a week after she began campaigning for next week’s election.

Turinanwe, the FDC secretary for mobilisation, was one of 47 candidates that were cleared by a Parliamentary vetting committee for the February 28 election. In Wednesday’s letter to the Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige, Maj Gen Muntu said the opposition party had decided to maintain one candidate, former Kaberamaido MP Florence Ibi Ekwau.

“This letter is to notify you that as a party, we are withdrawing candidate Kamateneti Ingrid Turinawe and retaining one candidate Ekwau Ibi Florence effective the date of this letter. We thank for your urgent action on this matter,” Muntu wrote, without giving reasons.

The letter was copied to speaker Rebecca Kadaga, leader of opposition Winnie Kiiza, FDC secretary general Nathan Nandala-Mafabi, Ibi and Turinawe. Turinawe, angered by Muntu’s letter, took to her Facebook wall and denounced her party president’s action.

Ingrid Turinawe with MPs at parliament

“I am in the race, the author of that letter has no authority to withdraw me,” Turinawe wrote.

Turinawe’s argument is based on Appendix B, Rule 7(2), which provides that a withdrawal notification to the clerk to Parliament “shall be signed by the nominee personally; and by the secretary general of the party,” which sponsored her.

Yesterday, Muntu wrote another letter to Kibirige, regretting the oversight, but insisted that the party position remained unchanged.

“I am working on rectification measures to address the above oversight given the fact that our secretary general and deputies are out of station,” Muntu wrote.

GENESIS

The Observer understands that the decision to withdraw Turinawe was made on Monday by the FDC working committee after a series of internal meetings and consultations with other political parties represented in Parliament.

The negotiations centred on how the three opposition parties; FDC, DP and UPC could share out the remaining three slots after the dominant ruling NRM insisted on sending six representatives to the regional parliament.

Some of the negotiations took place in Kiiza’s office at Parliament and were attended by DP president general Norbert Mao and UPC’s Jimmy Akena. At the FDC party headquarters at Najjanankumbi, the party’s management committee and national executive committee (NEC) met several times over the matter, according to insider FDC sources. 

The FDC spokesman and chief opposition whip in Parliament, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, confirmed Turinawe’s withdrawal, telling The Observer: “The reality we have to deal with is that the opposition is going to remain with two slots; much as it is not written in the Rules [of Procedure of Parliament] and [East African Community] protocol, NRM is going to take six slots and the opposition two.”

NRM has 300 MPs out of 428 that will elect EALA representatives. After the party organs took the decision on Monday, Turinawe was given an opportunity to voluntarily withdraw from the race.

Mafabi was also asked to write to Kibirige but he travelled to Nairobi before writing the letter. With Mafabi’s deputy, Harold Kaija, unlikely to write the letter, Muntu took up the duty which has won him condemnation from sections of the party membership.

HOSTILE

Since she began campaigning among MPs, Turinawe has been subjected to open hostility from MPs. On her first visit to the Parliamentary Canteen last Tuesday, she was harshly treated by MPs. The likes of Alex Byarugaba (Isingiro South), Anifa Kawooya (Sembabule Woman) and James Kakooza (Kabula) led the band that de-campaigned her.

She received the same treatment on Wednesday with MPs such as Kasambya MP Gaffa Mbwatekamwa holding up her campaign materials and chanting slogans against her.

Turinawe was also accused of being the mastermind of the dumping of yellow-painted pigs at Parliament by protestors. Besides the NRM MPs who wanted to use the Eala vote to humiliate her, Turinawe also appears to be unpopular among FDC MPs.

Some FDC MPs openly celebrated the arrival of Muntu’s letter at Parliament. But Turinawe remained defiant, telling journalists at Parliament that she was never consulted before the decision to withdraw her name from the race was taken.

“I am a candidate; I have never been a coward and that is why they call it a struggle. You can be fought by many people but in this case, the party president was misled and has apologized but whatever is going on, we are going to solve it in our home at Najjanankumbi,” Turinawe said.

She feigned ignorance of any meetings of the party organs to decide her fate.

“Even if there is a decision that was taken, I should be contacted and told the reasons why I should withdraw. This race has 47 candidates and every voter will be required to tick nine candidates. It doesn’t stop any MP to tick me or skip me,” Turinawe said.

For her part, Ekwau asked Turinawe to accept the party decision.

“If the party decided, she should only be noble and courteous and bow out. The party was willing to support her but the negotiations have proved that it is not possible to take two candidates, she should diplomatically bow out…,” Ibi told The Observer.

How her name was forwarded to Parliament as a candidate triggered debate among FDC supporters because she lost to Ekwau in the FDC primaries early this month. Kaija, the FDC deputy secretary general, told The Observer that the decision was based on the past precedents where FDC has always fronted two candidates for Eala.

But it also points to a deepening rift within FDC that risks tearing Uganda’s main opposition party apart. Many FDC MPs blame the confusion on Nandala-Mafabi.

They claim that five years ago, when NRM and opposition parties failed to agree on sharing out the Eala slots, Mafabi, then the leader of opposition in parliament, led a boycott. FDC missed out then. DP and UPC remained in the race and sent representatives to Eala.

To get accepted, Turinawe has tried to mend fences with party officials she’s not friends with. For instance, she has tried to persuade Kiiza to “accept her and also treat her as a human being.”

While Kiiza has given her an ear, she [Kiiza] has reportedly asked her to let systems work.

2 days 4 hours ago

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