Uganda is more indebted to the International Development Association (IDA) than it is to China.
Uganda’s outstanding debt to the IDA is $2.567 billion (Shs9 trillion) whereas its debt to China is $1.099 billion (Shs3.8 trillion) as of June 2017, according to Uganda’s Finance ministry.
Unlike China, which offers close to 45 per cent of tranches of its loans on commercial terms, IDA is wont to extend interest-free loans to developing countries like Uganda.
IDA lends such countries money to finance education, health and transport services.
China offers loans to build roads, railways and power plants.
A newsreader for Gabon state television has been taken off the air after mistakenly announcing the death of President Ali Bongo, the channel said on Saturday.
Journalist Wivine Ovandong made the error during a Gabon Television news bulletin on Thursday when she read from notes saying that Bongo had died in Barcelona.
In fact, Thursday was the eighth anniversary of the death of Bongo's father and predecessor, Omar, who did die in Barcelona on June 8, 2009, after more than four decades in power.
Current president Ali Bongo is alive and well.
Gabon Television director general Mathieu Koumba told AFP that Ovandong had been suspended as "a precautionary measure".
"We need to protect her, too, because social media has had a field day," he added.
Koumba appeared on the channel on Friday and said it had apologised to Bongo and his family for the "blunder".
"It can happen to anyone. But this was a bit much because it was confusion over the head of state," he said.
Ovandong had only been in the job for a few days after spending several years as a field reporter.
Ugandans have invested $8.7 (Shs30.8 trillion) Uganda over the last 25 years, the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) 2017 figures.
Ugandans are followed by Chinese who have invested $1.7 billion (Shs6 trillion) over the same period.
The other leading investors in Uganda are India - $1.49 billion (Shs5.2 trillion), the United Kingdom – $1.45 billion (Shs5.1 trillion) and Kenya – $1.3 billion (Shs4.6 trillion).
These are followed by Canada – $697 million, Cayman Islands – $644 million, Singapore – $486 million (Shs1.7 trillion), the United States of America – $381 million (Shs1.350 trillion) and the Netherlands – $374 million (Shs1.326 trillion).
Though Uganda accounted for 42.77 per cent of value of investments, foreign investors accounted for 69.7 per cent of the number of licensed projects.
UIA notes though that the number of projects owned by the domestic investors increased from 55 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014/15 to 91 in FY2015/16.
Of those 91 projects, 28 were in the manufacturing sector whereas 27 were in agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors.
However, in terms of employment, licensed jobs declined from 48,165 in 2015 to 46,665 in 2016.
Going by the $8.7 billion (30.8 trillion), it could infer that Ugandans are investing averagely $349.5 million (Shs1.2 trillion) annually in their country.
The pending by-election in Kyadondo East has split the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) down the middle. The leading opposition party chose Apollo Kantinti, whose first election was nullified by court, as its flag bearer, but two contestants who claim to support the party have chosen to stand as independents.
Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine and Muwada Nkunyingi, have attracted support from amongst the party faithful, complicating matters for FDC. In a lengthy interview, the party secretary general NATHAN NANDALA-MAFABI told Baker Batte Lule why Kantinti shall win and why FDC cannot work with DP headed by Norbert Mao. Excerpts below.
What do you say about the FDC members from Buganda region who have chosen to support Muwada Nkunyingi instead of Apollo Kantinti in the Kyadondo East by-election?
We have only one FDC. If there is any other party called FDC Buganda, I am yet to know about it. But as far as we are concerned, we have only one candidate Apollo Kantinti who was elected by the people of Kyadondo East in 2015. He stood as MP and he won that constituency until he was removed by the court not because of his own mistakes but because of the incompetence of the Electoral Commission.
Nkunyingi disputed the election of Kantinti as party flag bearer. Did the party address his concerns?
The party electoral commission handled the matter and I was involved at the tail end of it. The candidates resolved the matter concerning the register and finally the election was conducted. So, what they are bringing now is history.
If that issue was resolved in 2015, why then was the party involved in lengthy meetings to try to sort out the impasse about who should be the flag bearer?
What happened was that many other people had expressed interest [in carrying the flag] but we had already set a precedent that those who have been flag bearers should retain the card and that was it. There is no way we could change in the middle unless somebody has died. Apollo Kantinti has been in parliament; so, it would be unfair for somebody who has been in parliament to be abandoned midway just because a by-election has come up. Those are double standards and, as FDC, we can’t engage in such.
I was in Kyadondo when Nkuynyingi’s supporters accosted you, accusing you of messing up the party. Is there any truth in what they were saying?
I did not cause trouble. I am just the custodian of the law. I am the only one (or the person I have delegated) who signs for anybody who stands for any election in Uganda on the FDC ticket. So, that is my job. I am the secretary who keeps every paper; so, whoever blames me for doing what has been decided is wrong.
In your assessment should FDC insist on supporting a candidate even when that candidate may not have the capacity to win an election?
Which meter have you used to measure that this candidate is better than the other? You cannot tell me to go to the garden when you have not given me a hoe to dig. But to make matters worse, why would you employ double standards? Is that building the party? Institutions are institutions; we must allow them to function.
The opposition has literally fielded five candidates as opposed to NRM’s one. What are your chances of retaining that seat?
You have the meter of measuring [who will win]; why don’t you produce what you have done? I am sure Kantinti will win. This time I am sure he has more chances of winning again.
DP’s Norbert Mao said FDC failed to initiate dialogue so that the opposition can have one candidate.
Which DP; of NRM or which one? You see this DP is good at speaking to NRM and when DP speaks, they are speaking on behalf of the NRM. You have seen with Eala, when DP candidates came to campaign, they flashed [NRM symbols]; the same with UPC. So, when you hear the Norberts talk, those are NRM.
In public they pretend to be speaking for the opposition but in practice and private, they are NRM. Tell me which MP of FDC is a minister or somebody who contested on the FDC ticket. But for us we are there struggling and pushing on and we will not be swayed by anybody because we are not in the struggle to please anybody. Our only interest is to work for the people of Uganda who need change so everybody who wants change should join us but those of DP and UPC can go anywhere.
Speaking about Budadiri West, there was talk that you were not to contest again in 2016.
Are you a voter from Budadiri West that I told? Seeing it in the media doesn’t mean it’s correct. You are seeing now that Ivan Ssemwanga is still alive; so, you think the media is telling the truth? Is Ssemwanga alive or dead? So, I also don’t know what you are talking about. I’m here anyway, that question should be asked by the people of Budadiri West.
The term of Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu as FDC president is about to come to an end. Shall you offer yourself to replace him?
Why? Let’s wait for the time of the nomination. But August is just around the corner. Go then and ask every member of FDC whether they are going to stand; nothing to talk about now.
We have seen your name as among those standing.
A name can be thrown everywhere, there is no problem. Even yours, I see it in The Observer, does it mean that you are also standing?
Two years as FDC secretary general, tell us about your experience.
I have done my job and I still have some more years to go and I am sure everybody will appreciate what I have managed to do.
Have you achieved so far what you set out to achieve?
What did I set out to achieve; [that] I have not achieved?
You talked about party structures; where are they?
Party structures are a continuous process of building. You know by the time I came in, there were party structures that are running up to 2020 but we are sorting them out. Right now we have rolled out a programme to have village structures.
We don’t want to be like the NRM that relies on LCs. Even in several new administrative units (the districts and municipalities), we are putting up structures. Where there have been gaps as a result of shifting, we are also filling them.
But some members say you people just talk about party structures here in Kampala but on the ground nothing is being done.
Of course when we put in place our structures, they are bought by the NRM.
So, you admit you have no structures?
People have not known what parties are. You understand? I hope you understand.
What do you say about the leadership structure in FDC where the term for one set of leaders is ending in 2017 and for others in 2020?
We are going to have a national council and I think what we really need to do is to align the leadership. This was brought about when Dr Kizza Besigye left midway through his term.
How is working your relationship with your party president because in the past you have clashed with him.
I have a good working relationship with the party president. Everybody does his job according to the party constitution. In a home when the children disagree, does it mean that the roof must come down?
Maybe one stepped on the other’s foot but generally there is no clash. Maybe those who take these things out actually exaggerate. But bottom line is internal matters must remain internal.
There was talk that the party president was trying to trim your wings by introducing administrators to run the day- to-day activities of the party a role that is normally for the secretary general.
I can assure you nobody will take away my assignments; nobody. I am not somebody you can wish away. You don’t know Nandala. Nobody can take away what is meant to be for Nandala as secretary general. Whoever will try, will fall aside. Take my word.
Some FDC members are disappointed in you. They thought you’re a fighter especially after seeing you on top of a mamba during elections in Budadiri West in 2011. They say after all you’re just a good talker who can’t walk the talk.
I am not the party president; go and ask the president. My role as the secretary general is to write. Do you want me to tear papers then you know I’m working?
So, as secretary general you have no role in rejuvenating the party and make it more vibrant?
That is the role of the party president. My job is to ensure that we have constant communication with the districts. I am the official communication person between the party and the outside world.
I keep party minutes. Those are some of the things I do. If they had elected me as the party president, that would be a different story. Unfortunately I lost out; so, I’m not the commander.
As Nandala, are you convinced that the way the FDC is run is the best way it could ever be run?
In the circumstances it’s the best.
If it is run in the best possible way, why would you still be interested in challenging Muntu who is running your party in the best possible way?
You see you’re trying to ask the question in another way but it’s the same. And I am saying wait for an appropriate time. Right now I’m a secretary general until the appropriate time comes you will see my manifesto.
You see, to hold somebody accountable, you do so basing on the manifesto. When I stood the other time, they didn’t vote for me. Right now I’m the secretary general but when I want to make a decision on which office I want, I will present a manifesto.
There is a divide in FDC with some members firmly believing in defiance as the best way to change government while others loathe the same. Where do you belong?
There is nothing like division in the party; even defiance is a party activity I can tell that. If you don’t work, it doesn’t mean that the others shouldn’t work.
There is talk the constitution could be amended to lift the cap on the presidential age. As a party, how are you prepared for that eventuality?
That is illegal and we will be calling upon people to resist it. But we are also members of parliament who have been voted by the people. If your member of parliament is doing contrary to what you sent them to do, you can deal with them.
When you have been voted, you are not above the voters but under them. So, whoever wants to come and say my people have told me; that is a lie. When did they say it? I have seen the mood in the country nobody supports the lifting of the age limit save for the few crooks. In Uganda we have two groups of people, the oppressors who are like five percent, and the oppressed who are 95 percent.
But we have heard this kind of talk for the last 15 years and President Museveni still soldiers on.
You know it is because we have not organized properly, that is why. Let me ask you a question: have you seen hunger? You know hunger breeds anger; poverty also breeds anger.
So, what we are left with is organization. We have been building it over a period of time; so, I can tell you anything can happen anytime. Yes you have been hearing this all the time but even in the Bible Moses asked God to kill Pharaoh but God said He had added him 40 years. Indeed 40 years passed and the king died.
Basing on the outcome of the recent by-elections in Kagoma, Kamuli municipality and Toroma, it appears the hungry may not be angry. They are voting for NRM.
By the way, we want to see how we can take the Electoral Commission to court. If you were in Toroma, there was pre-ticking of ballot papers. For example one polling station had 956 voters and 954 voted. But when we looked at the figures, 11 people had died; so, who are those who voted. You would go to a polling station at 11am when 600 out 800 voters have already voted.
So, this Electoral Commission is worse than that of [Badru] Kiggundu. When you total the results, they do not add up. We raised these things when we went at the tally center in Toroma and they told us you can go to court. Museveni wants to prove a point that he never rigged the presidential election by rigging the by-elections using the Electoral Commission which claims to be independent.
Government must look for ways to expand its tax base to fund the budget instead of borrowing both locally and internationally, economists have said.
Speaking at the audit firm KPMG’s budget dinner on Thursday, economist Fred Muhumuza said lenders don’t want to put their money in countries that will become insolvent in the near future, yet that is where Uganda is headed to.
“Already, we have a big debt as a country and soon we will need funds for the standard gauge railway (SGR), opening roads and airports in the Bunyoro oil fields. This will further increase our debt burden,” Muhumuza said.
Finance minister Matia Kasaija read a Shs 29 trillion budget last Thursday but Uganda Revenue Authority will only collect about Shs 14tn. This means the rest of the money to finance the budget will be borrowed.
Borrowing externally has increasingly become expensive while domestic borrowing usually crowds out the private sector, meaning it becomes hard for businesses to access finance when competing with government.
Kasaija said Uganda’s debt burden was 33.8 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). At least 12 per cent of the budget will go to paying interest. Tax revenues have not grown as fast as the debt levels.
Yet analysts said that with the public debt almost a third of Uganda’s GDP, debts in the near future will not be sustainable and, multilateral organizations and countries will lose confidence in Uganda’s ability to repay the loans.
“You can see that getting funds from China’s Exim Bank to finance the SGR is taking too long. These people are just dragging their feet because they are not sure if Uganda will be able to pay; we need to watch out,” Muhumuza said
Asad Lukwago, a partner at KPMG Uganda, said there is need to improve project implementation so as not to jeopardize debt sustainability.
“Uganda shouldn’t reach the level of Mozambique,” Lukwago said. “Mozambique is insolvent again despite the debt relief the country got in 2006 under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.”
Lukwago added: “Let’s curb tax evasion, clamp down on illicit financial flows, and supply-friendly fiscal measures to boost productivity and investment.”
The government of Uganda has offered an apology to China in a bid to calm heightened diplomatic tensions after President Museveni mistakenly named two Chinese ‘diplomats’ in the illegal sale of ivory in a May 2 letter.
Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kahamba Kutesa told The Observer in a June 6 interview that government did its own digging and concluded that the two men Museveni referred to as Chinese diplomats attached to the Kampala embassy have actually never worked there.
“One thing which is clear is that there was a mistake [in the president’s letter]. We have since checked records and found out that the two men have never worked at the embassy. None of them is a diplomat,” Kutesa said.
“I have found in the records that the two men just entered Uganda and moved out. They never stayed here,” Kutesa added.
On May 2, the president wrote to the Inspector General of Government Irene Mulyagonja ordering an investigation into the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and two Chinese diplomats, Li Wejin and one Yinzhi, who he accused of involvement in the illegal trafficking of ivory smuggled from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Shortly after the letter became public in early June, the Chinese ambassador to Uganda, Zheng Zhuqiang, protested against its contents, saying they were based on wrong information. He demanded that Uganda formally repairs the damage the letter had caused to their embassy’s image. (See: China protests Museveni ivory trafficking charges, The Observer, Friday, June 2, 2017).
President Museveni (R) listens to the Chinese ambassador to Uganda, Zheng Zhuqiang last yeat
Wary of the possibility of hurting his close ties to China, the president reportedly asked the Foreign Affairs ministry to take immediate steps to resolve the matter.
This was after China demanded that the Ugandan government restores the Chinese embassy’s reputation, which Zheng said on June 3 was damaged by Museveni’s letter.
KUTESA, ZHENG MEET
The Observer has learnt that both Zheng and Kutesa met last week to resolve the matter. In an interview on Tuesday, Kutesa declined to reveal details of his meeting with the Chinese ambassador but said government was sorry for the mistake.
On Friday, Zheng confirmed to The Observer that he had held a meeting with Kutesa, but said the government of Uganda had not written a formal apology.
“We received a reply note from them [government] saying that they had found out that the two men were not our diplomats,” Zheng said.
Asked whether China was okay with the reply note, Zheng said, “We are happy with it because it clears us. I think it is the right thing to do.”
Nonetheless, Kutesa said, the other aspects of the investigation will go on.
The diplomatic slur embarrassed Museveni, who is said to be angry that he was fed on false information by his aides. The Observer has learnt from credible sources that the president is contemplating disciplinary action against those that fed him with the information.
Senior Presidential Press Secretary Don Innocent Wanyama on Saturday said the president is following up the matter as an administrative issue, but declined to delve into details.
“That matter is being handled internally. I wouldn’t want to discuss it in the media,” he said, then added that the slip-up over the Chinese names “does not negate the [other] issues that the president raised in his letter.”
According to insider sources, Museveni wrote the letter based on information by some senior officers at Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) who are said to have an axe to grind with their counterparts at UWA.
The officers reportedly used their contacts and relatives working with State House to get Museveni’s signature on a letter that nearly damaged his relations with China.
Seguya’s current contract expires in November and UWA’s semi-autonomous status allows it to be managed differently from other public service structures. For instance, the Uganda Wildlife Act allows UWA to create its own sources of income, generate its own budget and expenditure priorities.
For some time, UTB has been at war with UWA over financing of its marketing budget. Under the ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, UTB is allocated about Shs 11bn to cater for its staff remunerations but also to market Uganda’s tourism potential abroad.
UWA reportedly rejected this demand and instead urged UTB to limit its activities within their budgetary allocations. The two entities later found themselves doing overlapping marketing activities that saw UWA with a bigger budget outpacing UTB.
MINISTER WANTS PROBE
The state minister for Tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda Ssuubi, downplayed the possibility of the fight since the law does not provide for inter-sector funding.
“If there is a problem, it can only be personal, which we need to investigate,” Kiwanda said on Saturday.
Kiwanda added that the ministry allowed the various entities such as UWA and Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) to complement UTB in marketing the country’s tourism potential.
“We have discussed the possibility of having coordinated marketing,” Kiwanda said. “For instance, if there is an expo in London, the different players have to work together to avoid wastage because we are all marketing Uganda.”
Police have denied media speculations that the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, is bedridden.
The police spokesman, Mr Asan Kasingye, said Gen Kayihura is in Turkey on official duties.
“IGP is in Turkey on official duty. He will be back in the course of this week,” Mr Kasingye said.
This means that he has delegated his powers to his deputy, Mr Martin Okoth Ochola. He is expected to return in the country on Wednesday.
Uganda Police Force and Turkish Police have memoranda of understanding on several projects including the construction of health facility and training of special force units. He has been frequenting to Turkey since 2015.
They have been speculations both in tabloids and social media that Gen Kayihura is unwell.
He was last seen in public when he attended a security meeting chaired by President Museveni at State House Entebbe on May 31.
Gen Kayihura, who is known for reporting at his office at 10am and leaving as late as 3am the next day, of recent has been just dropping by his workplace in the evening and works for less than four hours.
A police officer told Daily Monitor that Gen Kayihura reported at work at police headquarters, Naguru, in Kampala City, with a cannula on his hand last week.
There were reports that he had been flown in India for treatment, but Mr Kasingye described the reports as fake news that should be disregarded.
Many senior officers don’t want to report medical problems because it is one of the grounds that can be put forward to retire them if they are seen to be unfit to provide a service.
Gen Kayihura’s disappearance from public has always been cause of speculations.
In August 2011, when he visited Germany to correct his eyesight problems, it was alleged that he had collapsed in office and rushed to abroad for treatment.
He had to send photographs of him and Germany officials to allay fears about his health condition.
After a stressful 2016 general elections, he took leave for weeks on similar grounds. Even when he returned, he worked on in the evenings.
Ten (10) Judges of the High Court have been transferred in a mini reshuffle to fill the existing gaps in the courts.
The transfers that were made by Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine, who is the administrative head of the High Court and courts below, will take effect from August 15 this year.
The ten judges, according to the press statement from the office of Public Relations of the Judiciary, are among the 22 judicial officers that have been affected in this reshuffle.
Notable among the transferred judges are; Flavia Anglin Senoga who now moves to Criminal Division as deputy head from Executions Division, Justice Senoga replaces Justice Joseph Murangira who now heads to Mubende High Court as the head of the circuit.
Justice Patricia Basaza Wasswa, formerly at Civil Division is now deployed to the Executions Division, likewise, justice Christopher Madrama Izama moves to the Executions Division from the Commercial Court.
Other justices affected are; David Matovu formerly at Mbarara High Court who now goes to Family Division with justice Alexandra Nkoge Rugadya formerly at Family Division, heading to Land Division.
Justice Henry Isabirye Kaweesa formerly at Mbale High Court circuit, now heads to Land Division
"According to administrative circular issues on June 7, 2017 by Principal Judge, Dr Yorokamu Bamwine and Chief Registrar, Paul Gadenya, the new transfers were done in consultation with the Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe," reads in part Justice Bamwine's circular.
The other judicial officers transferred in this reshuffle are at the ranks of registrars and Grade One.
Justice Catherine Bamugemereirwe has halted all land surveying and boundary opening activities on land under investigation by the Land commission of inquiry at Balatira, Mizimbo, Naluvule and Senda villages in Nakaseke District pending a conclusive investigation report.
Justice Bamugemereirwe on Wednesday during a public hearing at Balatira village in Nakaseke District directed Hajji Swaibu Mukasa, the person accused of grabbing land from more than 3,000 residents in Kapeeka Sub-county to halt all his land surveying and boundary opening activities on the land he claims he genuinely owns after buying it from the residents.
“I request Hajji Swaibu Mukasa to halt all land surveying and boundary opening activities as requested by the Hon MP Sarah Najjuma. We are going to put this in writing to ensure that whatever we do is within the law. We also ask Hajji Swaibu to come back Tomorrow with his team of Surveyors,” Justice Bamugemereirwe said amidst a loud applause from members of the public.
Earlier the Special Presidential Advisor on Political Affairs Retired Maj Roland Kakooza Mutale told the Commission at a public hearing that land matters in Buganda and many other parts of the Country have been complicated by the Judicial System which at many times sided with land grabbers and on several occasions ruled on matters which call for further inquiries.
“ Our work has been complicated by the Judiciary where Courts of Law often make rush decisions without conclusive evidence. I have incidents where I have made investigations only to find out that the land titles presented in Courts of Law were forged. But in these very cases, the land owners were arrested, convicted and jailed for four years for trespassing on their own land. Hon Justice we need to find a solution to this problem,” he said.
The commission officials were surprised when residents told them that Hajji Mukasa at one time told them to watch a helicopter which was hovering in the sky which he claimed it was carrying the big men who were surveying the land they bought.
Hajji Swaibu however, dropped his claim of being a land surveyor when Justice Bamugemereirwe asked him to clarify on the allegation that he is a land surveyor.
“My lordship I have been using this as a password but am not a land surveyor,” Hajji Mukasa said.
The Uganda National Teacher's Union (UNATU) has condemned in the 'strongest terms' allegations against the late proprietor of St Lawrence Schools and Colleges, Prof Lawrence Mukiibi that he fathered several children with his own students.
UNATU secretary general, James Tweheyo, says it is unethical and professionally wrong for teachers to lead into temptation students placed under their care and protection.
Since his death, there has been wide spread condemnation against Prof Mukiibi, who succumbed to cardiac arrest last week. While the rumours of having sexual relations with his students have been around for some time, they gained even more credence upon his death when several young mothers and former students showed up at the burial with babies they claimed were Mukiibi's.
RIP: Prof Lawrence Mukiibi
"I will says that as an institution, that it is wrong for somebody entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of children to be the one to lead them into temptation. That is a very a clear position. It is wrong, it is not ethical, it is not professional, it is even religiously wrong. So, we condemn it to the highest level of it", Tweheyo said.
Tweheyo says if it is indeed true that the late Prof Mukiibi fathered children with learners placed under his care, his behaviour should be condemned with the contempt it deserves.
"The other day, the newspapers and everybody have been hyping Prof Mukiibi. But let me tell you, Mukiibi could have had his better side, but if it is true that he fathered all those children, from the learners he was supposed to take care of, it is wrong, it is ethically wrong, it is morally wrong, it is professionally wrong and it is wrong. We should condemn it and probably pray to God to forgive him", he said.