A human rights activist, also environmentalist, Ben Kiromba Twinomugisha has criticized President Museveni for promoting the use of mineral water bottles for crop irrigation.
Twinomugisha says the president's method of irrigation is bound to create a catastrophic environmental issue in the future. President Museveni has in the recent past promoted the irrigation method through 'experiments' on his model farms in Kawumu, Luweero district and another in Kityerera sub-county, Mayuge district.
President Museveni demonstrates how to use mineral water bottles for irrigation at one of his farms
Museveni has often said that this type of irrigation is to encourage Ugandans to use simple, affordable and accessible technologies to irrigate their gardens even during prolonged droughts to ensure sustainable food supply.
Under this irrigation method, water flows under low pressure through plastic bottles and tubes tied along the plants. Agriculturalists say that the system reduces water loss by up to 60 percent.
But Prof Twinomugisha says that the water bottle type of irrigation is not only old-fashioned but could also have far-reaching environmental impacts if widely promoted. He fears that the bottles that are non-biodegradable are likely to negatively affect the soils because of poor disposals.
"The president’s method of using mineral water bottles for irrigation is not only a fake but laughable", he said.
"One; it doesn’t take into account the time a person takes to fetch that amount of water that can be used for irrigation purposes. Take an example of someone fetching water five kilometres away, how many jerricans of water will that woman fetch to put in the bottles.
Secondly, there is a serious environmental degradation issue. When you introduce that rudimentary way of irrigation, how are you going to dispose of the bottles which are known to be biodegradable. They are going to suppress the soil because people are to dispose them, you don’t have a proper disposal system and they are negatively going to affect the environment.
And thirdly, in this century where we host Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, Lake Edward, Lake George, River Nile, Lake Kyoga and we have underground water resources, we are thinking of irrigation that, to me it is not sustainable", he said.
Twinomugisha who is also a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Environmental law Academy, says government should instead provide more money to the ministry of Water and the Ministry of Agriculture to extend water closer to communities and also provide access to modern irrigation technologies.
Studies have shown that drip irrigation using pipes laid across the gardens is the most efficient method of irrigating. While sprinkler systems are around 75-85 percent efficient, drip systems are said to be 90 percent or higher because they also use less water.
Drip irrigation (sometimes called trickle irrigation) works by applying water slowly, directly to the soil. The high efficiency of drip irrigation results from two primary factors.
The first is that the water soaks into the soil before it can evaporate or run off. The second is that the water is only applied where it is needed, rather than sprayed everywhere.
Uganda's High court decision has won the People's Choice Gavel award at the 2017 Gender Justice Uncovered awards.
The awards that are organised and hosted by Women's Link Worldwide, an international organisation attempt to shed light on the positive and negative impacts court decisions have on the lives of women and girls around the world. The awards are meant to encourage and advance rights of women and girls.
Earlier this year in January, Justice Lydia Mugambe ruled favour of a couple whose other twin went missing soon after delivery in Mulago hospital. Mugambe ruled that it was due to the hospital's negligence that resulted in the disappearance of the baby - subjecting the couple to psychological torture. She further ruled that the parents' rights to access to health information was also denied. As such she awarded the couple Shs 85 million in compensation.
In an online poll, Justice Mugambe's decision garnered 3,829 votes to beat 17 other rulings that were nominated for the best judicial decision from all around the world.
"The court decision stood out because it recognised the need to not only address the human rights of the couple who were parties to the case, but also the failure on the part of the state of Uganda to fulfill its obligation of the right to health", said Lydia Muthiani, Women's Link attorney.
Justice Lydia Mugambe
According to Women's Link, Justice Mugambe's decision specifies that a woman's inability to access sufficient antenatal care demonstrates a failure on the part of the State to fulfill its obligations under the right to health. It also points out that States also have an obligation to devote special attention and resources to women whose circumstances make them vulnerable and those who suffer from multiple forms of inequality.
Court also pointed to overburdened hospital staff which led to errors as another example of the failure to comply with obligations under the right to health.
A social justice advocacy organisation, the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (Cehurd) and the parents of the child sued the attorney general and executive director of Mulago hospital for unlawful disappearance of their baby.
"We applaud the Judiciary for upholding health and human rights of Jennifer Musimenta and her husband Michael Mubangizi, at a time when they had no recourse for justice", said Moses Mulumba executive director, Cehurd.
"This award comes at a crucial time (because) the ruling required the Uganda Police to make a report on the where about of this couple's child within six months but we are yet to hear from them," he added.
Other rulings from African courts that won awards include; the Tanzania's High court that took the Bronze Gavel (court ruling with a positive effect on women and girls' lives) for its ruling instructing the government to ban child marriages and set the legal age for marriage at 18 for both sexes.
The Golden Bludgeon (court ruling with a negative effect on women and girls' lives) went to the High court of Kenya for its decision to acquit a man for carrying on a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl, on basis that girls often make false reports of non-consensual sex.
In an unscripted remark during his three-hour State of the Nation address yesterday, President Museveni said 30 years in power have helped him get the necessary experience and knowledge to steer the country in the best direction.
Museveni went off script to respond to persistent direct challenges and interruptions to his speech from mainly opposition MPs.
“Being president for a very long time is not a bad thing. That is why I am experienced.... Even if you woke me up at night, I will tell you what is happening,” Museveni said in response to taunts from MPs over his longevity in power.
Museveni has been in power for 31 years now and there are schemes from within his NRM party to amend the Constitution to remove the 75-year-presidential-age cap. At intervals, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga tried to bring the MPs to order but in vain.
“If you want to be a leader, you should avoid prejudice because prejudice can make you live with envy; you will end up getting high blood pressure,” Museveni said after opposition MPs led by Joseph Ssewungu (Kalungu West), William Nzoghu (Busongora North), Samuel Odonga Otto (Aruu South) and Robert Centenary (Kasese Municipality) loudly disputed his statistics on the Bujagaali power dam in- vestments.
President Museveni addressing the nation yesterday
Museveni’s address, which marked the opening of the second session of the 10th Parliament, was to a country that is reeling from a wave of violent crime and insecurity. The president was keen to reassure the population that his ruling NRM government was committed to securing the country by “closing the [loose security] gaps” that still exist and led to the killing of high-profile people like Andrew Felix Kaweesi, the former police spokesperson.
“These gaps put a lot of burden on the CID [Criminal Investigation Directorate] to discover the one who committed the crime depending on eyewitnesses and other clues. The cameras would hasten the identification of anybody who commits a crime in the towns or the highways. This is a gap I have given instructions to close,” he said.
For the first time, he acknowledged the public sentiment that many of the people arrested after the murder of Kaweesi may not be the real killers. Museveni, however, said some of these suspects are guilty of committing other capital offences for which they have never been tried.
He queried: “Why, then, were they still in circulation? That means somebody was not doing his or her work.”
Yet in his speech, the president did not address directly the issue of torture of the suspects. Though he dropped hints that he had written about it in a statement, yesterday he said the matter was being handled administratively.
Museveni blamed police and intelligence forces for not acting on information provided by the public. He said while the force had some good and highly educated cadres, there were still some criminal and corrupt elements that must be weeded out.
Turning to youth unemployment, Museveni said the large numbers of jobless youth was an opportunity, and not a challenge as some people believe. He ordered the police not to arrest any youth on charges of being idle and disorderly.
“This must stop completely. Some of the youth are idle because they do not have jobs. Why arrest them for that? The revolutionary should be like fish in water. A revolutionary should never be fish in no water. You should never talk harshly to the people. Always maintain a harmonious relationship with the people,” Museveni said.
He said he started relating with youths in Kampala in 1968, in Katwe, a suburb of Kampala. The president said land had been secured at Abayita Ababiri, along Entebbe road, where an industrial park will be established for youths involved in furniture making, metal fabrication, weaving and knitting and other jobs that involve hand skills.
Museveni renewed his vow to fight corruption within government and public service.
“We must purge out all the corrupt officials in UIA, ministry of Finance, Nema. They are the ones that have been delaying and frustrating investment. How shall we know them? We shall know them by their fruits. Their actions will tell us who they are,” he said.
The speech was not only heavy on government plans; it was also high on humour. Appealing to the opposition to work harmoniously together with government to achieve economic development, Museveni pointed out that in the past, his government had worked closely with Cecilia Ogwal, the Dokolo Woman MP, who is a staunch opposition figure. Ogwal’s firm once supplied maize flour to the army.
“It is not Cissy Ogwal who made a deal with me. It is me as a manager who had to separate politics from the economy. I want her to succeed; if she is engaged in wealth creation, in job creation, even if she is against me politically, I don’t mind. I can struggle with her politically. Meanwhile, her factory is providing jobs for Ugandans,” Museveni said before Ogwal interjected that the grain processing factory had collapsed.
Museveni then jokingly blamed her for being a bad manager and promised to bail her out.
“I will bail you out because when I bail out her factory... the factories don’t belong to individuals. They belong to the country. If a factory makes $100 million a year, the owner may get only 15 per cent of this as profit. The rest goes back into the economy,” Museveni said.
While he was willing to bail out Ogwal, Museveni bragged that he had accumulated his wealth without anyone bailing him out, in- cluding commercial banks. He told the MPs about the donations he had made to various youth groups around Kampala and Wakiso before the MPs asked to know the source of his money.
“Is it from loans?” an opposition MP inquired, to which Museveni was quick to respond;
“I am not a loan man. I deal with cash. If you go to the bank, you will not find that Museveni has a loan,” he said.
This is when another MP cheekily wondered whether the president was using his salary to make the donations.
Museveni responded, “My salary is Shs 3.6m [but] I have cows...If you go to the IGG, you will see my wealth declaration.”
Sensing that the MPs were not about to give up, Museveni referred them to his entitlement in the donations budget.
“Haven’t you heard of an office called the president? If you read the Constitution, you will find that it is a very powerful office,” Museveni said.
Yet in many ways, the speech was not much different, in tone and focus, from many of the addresses the president has made over the years.
Like in many of his speeches that draw parallels with the situation in 1986, Museveni continued with this trend yesterday. He mentioned that in 1986 Uganda was producing 200 million litres of milk per year compared to two billion litres of milk per year today.
Still, he said that since the number of Friesian and cross-breed cows is more than one million, milk production needs to go up to at least six billion litres a year.
In last year’s address, three weeks after his inauguration, Museveni lamented extensively how Uganda had become a big supermarket for goods from China, India and Europe. He said then the size of Uganda’s economy would be larger than $27 billion that it was last year, if the country exported more than it imported.
Yesterday, Museveni posed a number of questions to illustrate that by importing finished goods from abroad while exporting close to nothing at all, Uganda was exporting jobs and wealth to the developed countries.
“How much furniture does Uganda import from China and Dubai? How many pairs of shoes does Uganda import from outside? How many metres of textile does Uganda import? How much pharmaceutical units does Uganda import? How much vaccines for humans and livestock does Uganda import?
How much glass, how much fertilizers, how much steel? How many automobiles, how many motorcycles? How many, even, bicycles? How much processed coffee and processed fruits? Is it a wonder that many of our young people neither have jobs nor wealth?” he wondered.
In the same vein, like he has done time and again, Museveni also mentioned various ongoing infrastructural projects that he said would lower the cost of doing business once complete.
The Ministry of Education in partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom are discussing methods of overhauling Uganda’s education, assessment and examination system to equip learners with the relevant skills.
During a sympossium on Tuesday, Education and Sports Minister, Ms Janet Kataha Museveni said the public has continued to judge the education success only in terms of examination results and grades attained by learners instead of what has been taught and learnt.
She noted that this has pushed school heads, teachers and parents to concentrate on what is testable ignoring the prescribed curriculum and vital areas of skills, values and attitudes.
She said skills of Ugandan learners are lower than the desired and competent attitude towards work.
“As you are all aware, Uganda has been a hub for quality education in the African region, however, there has been disturbing research reports of late rating the proficiency of Ugandan learners to be lower that the desired skills,” Ms Museveni said.
She said: “I am glad that most of you are educated experts and I implore you to critically look at our education system and identify the gaps and propose solutions to our education system especially assessment and examination which influence class room practice,” she said.
The symposium seeks to reform Uganda’s approach to exams and assessment that will enable Ugandans get the relevant skills needed in the job market.
Meanwhile, the Executive secretary of Uganda National Examination Board Mr Dan Odongo Nokrach said that the country has lost focus on what assessment is since schools have concentrated more on exams to assess students.
“We are looking at what we can offer our students with the basic skills and continuously assessing them through their education at each stage instead of basing on the tests and grades they have acquired,” Me Odongo said.
Dr Yusufu Nsubuga, the former Director Basic and secondary education proposed that there should be a training of teachers examining students because students are exposed to unprofessional tests and exams being set by unprofessional teachers.
“Since teachers are the facilitators in examining our students, our focus should be in training these teachers to ensure that whatever they set for students matches the relevant skills needed in the job world,” Mr Nsubuga said.
President Museveni yesterday piled more pressure on the police accusing it of being infiltrated by “rotten elements” who “hobnob with criminals” and once more ordered the leadership to clean up their ranks.
Mr Museveni used his 31st State-of-the Nation address to admit that “there is a spike in lawlessness” in the country and cited the high-profile assassinations, recent house break-ins, robberies and theft of cash crops that have struck terror in the population.
Mr Museveni said the army had achieved peace by defeating rebel groups such as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels and disarming Karamojong cattle rustlers, but wondered why the police had failed to rout out lawlessness in the country.
“The UPDF has the capacity to ensure that nobody disturbs the peace of Uganda. However, as you saw recently, there has been a spike of lawlessness in the country,” Mr Museveni said.
Using the murder of Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi, the President indicated that the suspects arrested following the spate of brutal killings had prior committed capital crimes that carry the death sentence but he wondered “why they were still in circulation?”
“Peace means absence of war but it also includes absence of lawlessness. The Police and the intelligence services have been rightly criticised by the public for being lax in handling information given to them by the public; sometimes leaking this information, corruption in the form of extorting money from the public, and high-handedness in dealing with the public,” Mr Museveni said.
“Those who taint their hand with hobnobbing with criminals will only let themselves down,” Mr Museveni said.
With the Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura absent and the Chief of Defence Forces Gen David Muhoozi present, Mr Museveni said the “Police leadership must listen to the public and clean up the few rotten elements.” Mr Martin Okoth-Ochola, the Deputy IGP, represented the Uganda Police Force.
Mr Museveni, who poured scorn on the police, however, was full of praise for the army, warning that anyone who insults the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) risks attracting his wrath.
“UPDF is a voluntary army [that has] operated in Somalia, Central African Republic, Congo, South Sudan” and still maintains “the capacity to ensure that nobody disturbs the peace of Uganda,” he said.
As a definitive solution, Mr Museveni repeated his pledged to have closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed on major highways in the country and residential areas. He also urged wealthy Ugandans to install the CCTV cameras at their premises in order to help track criminals.
The President premised his State -of-the-Nation address on five themes of peace, development of infrastructure, human resource, job and wealth creation, which components he said formed the basis of his 2016 campaign and his 10-point bottlenecks for the development of Africa.
On infrastructure, Mr Museveni said the increment of allocation to roads from Shs398b in the Financial Year 2005/2006 to the current Shs3.442b has lowered the costs of doing business in Uganda.
Mr Museveni promised that the next major infrastructural project will be the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and projected that it will lower the costs of transporting a container from Mombasa to Kampala from $3500 by train to $1,500 by rail-with the journey by rail taking one day.
On the state of the economy, Mr Museveni argued that an economy that produces surplus electricity cannot be in a bad shape and promised that the economy will be more competitive when the prices of electricity is brought down.
Power prices at Bujagali hydropower dam will be re-negotiated, Mr Museveni promised, saying the financing deal had been poorly negotiated by technocrats he did not name.
On job creation, the President promised that manufacturing sheds will be constructed in major urban centres in Kampala, including suburbs such as Katwe and outskirts, including Kireka, to accommodate the youth engaged in artisan works so as to solve the problem of youth unemployment.
Mr Museveni also promised that the government will harness “four clusters of wealth creation,” namely agriculture, industry, services and information and communication technology (ICT), with the target of improving Uganda’s exports productivity and reducing dependence on imports.
He said for agriculture, the poverty alleviation programme; Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), would tackle the 69 per cent of the population who are engaged in subsistence farming, construction of irrigation schemes, and industrialisation of the sector to support agricultural-based industries.
Gilbert Olanya, MP Kilak South Amuru District
I expected him to talk about the health and education sectors which are collapsing but he is instead talking of giving youth in Kalerwe and Nakawa, machines. Are those technical schools to train thousands of unskilled youth?
Simon Oyet, MP Nwoya County FDC
This is repetition of the usual address for the all these years. He is claiming that we have comparative advantage to export cooking oil and coffee yet he has not mentioned anything about our agriculture.
Cecilia Ogwal, Dokolo Woman MP
That was just a chat, he has not done accountability for what has been done for in the last one year
Joshua Agwara Kata, Padyere MP
This is the same rhetoric and drama that has been going on for the last six year. He has only edited the ten bottlenecks he has been singing about for all those years. He has not accounted for what was budgeted in the last financial year.
Joseph Gonzaga Sewungu, Kalungu MP
I am happy that the President talked about what I expected him to say after dodging to talk about the failing health, education and agricultural system. He did not mention anything about improving the skills of youth.
Judith Nabakooba, Mityana Woman MP
It is a promising budget especially given that the president has listed the security measures he has put in place for Police and UPDF. It is quite reassuring.
Ismail Orot, Kanyumu County MP
It is clear that the president is beginning to reason the way leaders of Malaysia, China and Singapore reasoned 30 years ago the same time he has been in power because for a country to move to where it wants, it requires a leader with such a mindset.
Atuhaire Jacklet, Sheema District MP
It is the usual speech only that it has been slightly edited and polished. He has not answered the nation about the state of the nation.
Persis Namuganza, State Minister for lands
He has addressed the issues of security, he commented about the spate of murders across the country and the technical support he is going to offer the police to fight crime. I support his address.
Police in Lira is holding one of their own officers accused of defiling a 16-year-old girl, a senior two student. The suspect is Fred Moli, a police constable attached to Ireda police post in Lira district. He is wanted for defiling a student of Bishop Tarantino secondary school in Lira.
David Ongom Mudong, the North Kyoga regional police spokesperson, says Moli allegedly lured the minor into his house at the police barracks where he defiled her. He says the medical examination of the victim confirms she was defiled.
According to Mudong, police has entered a defile case vide CRB 425/2017 against the accused at Lira central police station where he is being held. He says the file has already been forwarded to the resident state attorney for legal advice before the suspect is arraigned in court.
Mudong says police as an institution condemns in the strongest term possible, the acts of defilement. He wonders why an officer who should have been at the forefront of fighting defilement, would stoop that low and involve himself in such.
Kampala- Uganda continues to earn peanuts from a potentially lucrative mining sector because of corruption and mismanagement that has affected regulation and licensing. A report by Global Witness, an international human rights campaign organisation reveals that the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) may not actually be in charge of the mining sector.
“However, rather than fulfilling its mandate to work for the benefit of the Ugandan people, the DGSM is controlled by a hidden alternative power structure and decision making process or ‘shadow system’ which benefits predatory investors and politically powerful Ugandans,” the report reads.
There have been documented incidences where a company applies for an exploration license and once that is acquired, the companies go on to mine without filing reports. Their licenses are never terminated and there are no implications in terms of fines.
“Poorly qualified companies can win licenses based on their connections, at the expense of well-qualified and conscientious companies. The absence of respect for the rule of law and the systemic circumvention of policies and procedures undermines investment and puts Ugandans and their environment at risk. The underpayment or complete failure to pay taxes, mineral rents and royalties by many of those operating in the sector deprives the public coffers of millions of dollars a year. This affects the provision of basic services for ordinary Ugandans and further obstructs proper oversight and regulation of the industry,” the report goes on to read.
Global Witness notes that in 2012 a report conducted on DGSM was brought to the attention of the ministry of energy. It revealed fraud was existent but the findings of the report were never followed up on.
For the one month, a probe committee into land issues in Uganda has been meeting several people as it seeks to find a solution to the land-related challenges in the country. Constituted in September 2016 by President Yoweri Museveni, after several notable incidences of land wrangles in the country and delays in the land acquisition for government projects, the committee is expected to table a comprehensive report that provides a solution. It is led by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire
Why was the probe committee instituted?
Land issues have not entirely been new to Uganda. There have been several land wrangles written by the media dating from as far back as writing the 1995 Uganda Constitution. The 1995 Constitution (Article 237) brought about four land tenure systems in Uganda. The three are; Freehold (holding of registered land in perpetuity), Mailo (a tenure predominantly in Buganda premised on the 1900 Buganda Agreement), Customary (most of Uganda’s land is owned through communal means) and Leasehold (a tenure system where the landlord agrees to lease land for a given period).
To operationalise the Constitution, the government passed the Land Act in 1998 (amended in 2010) but as time progressed, gaps continued to be found.
These gaps are visible in the 2013 Uganda National Land Policy where it recommends several amendments to the Land Act. The policy attempts to address the issues Uganda facing with land; ranging from historical injustices, a multiplicity of land tenure systems, multiple rights and overlapping interests, a heritage of evictions and arbitrary disposition, disputes beyond boundaries (tribal and ethnic too) and the rights of vulnerable people. Both the National Land Policy and Land Act address issues in different modes. The issues being: tenure security, land administration, management and enforcement in the protection and conservation of the environment and natural resources in Uganda.
The probe committee appears to be addressing issues already taken care of in the Land Policy of 2013. In fact, the Land Policy traces the history of Uganda’s land problems to the colonial era that ushered in the 1900 Buganda Agreement and Idi Amin’s 1975 Land Decree where the government nationalised land ownership.
However, what the committee is likely to address are the wrangles that arose from the discovery of oil the Bunyoro region.
What are the terms of the probe committee?
The President initiated the probe committee in order to find out the following;
Investigate and inquire into the law, process, and procedure by which land is administered and registered in Uganda
Inquire into the role of the Uganda Land Commission in the management and administration of public land.
Review the effectiveness of the relevant bodies in the preservation of wetlands, forests and game reserves.
Inquire and solicit views on the role of traditional cultural and religious institutions who own large tracts of land
To assess the legal and policy framework on government land acquisition
To identify, investigate and inquire into the effectiveness of the dispute resolution mechanism available to persons involved in land disputes
To inquire into any other matter connected with or incidental to the matters aforesaid.
It should be noted that the 2013 Land Policy does indeed comprehensively address most of the terms of reference provided to the committee. The drafting of the land policy took in excess of 3 years with consultations made to the same stakeholders expected at the probe committee.
What is the government aiming at achieving?
According to Lands Minister, Ms Betty Amongi, on top of proposing reforms, the committee shall issue “administrative and criminal sanctions against persons found culpable of wrongdoing in all the process.” This is important in addressing some of the injustices faced by Ugandans especially land evictions.
One of the more pronounced ambitions of the government is to make changes to the compulsory acquisition of land.
The government has been complaining about several projects being delayed by a hectic land acquisition process.
The government wants the right to use the land for a project as disputes are being handled in order to avoid project delays.
In a statement issued in August 2016, Betty Amongi mentions that “There are scenarios where 90 % of a community who want services have accepted the value government is paying, then 10% rejects it and the project is compromised or abandoned and monies returned or not utilised.” This she says informs the proposed changes to the law.
Article 237 of The Constitution states that; “Land in Uganda belongs to the citizens of Uganda and shall vest in them in accordance with the land tenure systems provided for in this Constitution.”
Wakiso District Land surveyor Dr Joseph Batume before the Land Inquiry Commission recently. PHOTO BY JOSEPH KIGGUNDU
In article 26 (b), it reads “the compulsory taking of possession or acquisition of property is made under a law which makes provision for— (i) prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation, prior to the taking of possession or acquisition of the property; And (ii) a right of access to a court of law by any person who has an interest or right over the property.”
For the government to get its mandate to change the constitution, the commission of inquiry should be able to make that recommendation. What the probe committee will find out are incidences of absentee landlords, underhand methods by government entities to underpay, the absence of land titles and for customary land, certificates of ownership maybe missing. These contribute to the delays in implementation of projects.
The other recommendation could be to completely overhaul the Land Acquisitions Act. It is a 1965 law and for some, it is considered outdated. Then again, one of the objectives of the National Land Policy is to ensure harmonization of all land related laws to in order to “strengthen institutional capacity” of government and cultural institutions.
Issues the committee could explore further On 29th March 2017, the 2017 Case Backlog report was released and it indicated that the land case backlog constituted 25% of the entire “delayed justice.” One of the reasons given for the case backlog in was that “Land matters often require locus, yet the mediators lack funding to travel to the villages to meet with the communities.” The probe committee could perhaps explore whether alternative dispute resolution is feasible. The Land Act provided for land tribunals at district and sub-county level whose role was to determine land related disputes.
They were operationalised in 2001 but by 2004 they had been phased out due to inadequate funding. The committee could further find out whether DLB’s could resolve some of the issues that have created the case backlog. Also in part help the government resolve disputes with landlords on compensation rates when carrying out compulsory land acquisition. Interestingly the National Land Policy also provides for the reinstatement of Land Tribunals.
Land administration in Uganda is still considered to be one of the causes of the land rights insecurity in Uganda. If the probe committee could recommend solutions to the fraud, forgeries, and inaccuracies in the Land Registry, then it will improve land administration. It could also bring those involved to book.
NORBERT MAO is the president general of the Democratic Party, which has experienced some political storms recently.
Amid the storm, Mao has turned his focus to the coming by election in Kyadondo East where DP has fielded a candidate. In an interview last week, he told Baker Batte Lule why a divided opposition could gift NRM victory in a constituency which until last month was represented by FDC's Apollo Kantinti. Excerpts below:
Why is it important for DP to have a candidate in the Kyadondo East by-election?
As the Democratic Party (DP), we had expected that Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi Wine would contest on the DP ticket. There was a meeting of DP leaders where our candidate Lillian Babirye Kamome announced that if Bobi wants to run on the DP ticket, she would happily relinquish the flag for him.
Unfortunately Bobi Wine even after consulting me and other DP leaders chose to contest as an independent. So, his delaying [to clarify his position] until the last minute also kept us in limbo.
Fortunately Babirye Kamoome is now our flag bearer and automatically she had a right to the ticket which had been rejected by Bobi Wine. In terms of the opposition, our view has been that it would be good to face NRM as a united front and the principle should be that where the incumbent is from an opposition party, that party should initiate talks with other opposition parties.
Unfortunately, we never heard from FDC and I don’t know why. Maybe they also had other internal issues. But for us, if we had an incumbent who is going back for a by-election, we would initiate dialogue. At least let the dialogue fail but we would have initiated it because you can’t take another political party’s support for granted. We said we should cooperate on case by case basis. In some places we actually never put candidates.
I remember we attempted in Omoro where we suggested that DP should have the parliamentary candidate supported by all the other opposition parties and then FDC should have the LC-V candidate because the most viable candidate was Simon Tolit, who was FDC and for the woman candidate our DP candidate was better in our view.
Those talks failed; so, we went into the race and lost the chairman seat to an independent who is NRM-leaning and we also lost the parliamentary seat to the NRM. As I talk now, of the three MPs of Omoro, two are NRM, one is DP but this is now water under the bridge.
We need to go back to that time when we had a healthy dialogue. But this is not a matter of life and death; adding one MP to the current NRM- dominated parliament is not going to tilt the balance of power in any way but we do this incrementally to show that we can be able to increase the voices of those who want a different Uganda from the one Museveni has presided over.
When the opposition fields more than one candidate, won’t you split the vote and hand victpry to the NRM candidate?
We can only talk to people who want to talk to us. Like I said, DP is tired of being taken for granted. Just because some of our members are band-wagonists, so, people think DP is there for taking; that is not the case.
But ultimately, having fought for multipartism that offers the voters a choice, let them choose. This couldn’t be the best scenario that we could have designed but it’s what it is. We don’t want anybody to talk as if DP is obliged to support their candidate.
You said earlier that Bobi Wine was negotiating with DP to stand on your ticket but we also heard the same was happening in FDC so which party is he?
I don’t know about their discussion but Bobi Wine told me himself that he was DP at heart and for me if you can [not] stand on a party ticket, then you can’t claim to be a believer in that party.
Parties should not have room for those who just want to pay lip service to them and you cannot be on the fence. Anyway, the dice is already cast; the verdict of the people will come.
Aren’t these actions by the opposition working in favour of the NRM which is only fronting one candidate?
You can’t predict votes accurately; I can only say that our chances could be higher if we had a united front. But now our chances are 50/50. If we had only one candidate, we would be sure NRM would not win.
But with this confusion, anything can happen but the only answer to that is that we should learn to talk to each other respectfully rather than saying we are the official opposition, we are the biggest party; I don’t think that is a line a serious political party should take.
Your adversaries accuse you of trying to prove a point to FDC that DP is still alive even when you know that your candidate will have no impact at all.
I have told you how badly FDC faired in Lwengo. I think they got less than 200 votes. But we must also have some good manners; it is the right of any political party to field candidates. Why do you think Uganda goes to the Africa football championships or for athletics contests? Would we have got a Kiprotich if we had just taken it for granted that Kenya has better runners so we should now support Kenya?
That kind of argument we can’t accept; it’s myopic and it assumes that political strength is constant. So, DP has got a right to field candidates anywhere and no one has the veto powers to decide for DP. To accuse DP that it is a spoiler is even contrary to the spirit of multiparty democracy.
The voters know what they want and they will decide ultimately but if anyone wants our support, they should come and talk with us. Babirye Kamoome is a very formidable candidate and courageous that she has dared to go in a constituency rather than district woman MP seat, we don’t want to demoralize her by simply pushing her out of the race.
Ultimately it’s her choice; if she had chosen not to contest, that would have been the end of the story. Whether we would have been engaged in Kyadondo or not, would be another matter. Now that she is in the race, we have to campaign for her with all our vigor and we expect that all DP members will support her.
When you look at her performance in the previous election vis-a-vis that of her opponents, does she have any chance?
Ultimately, there is going to be one winner; so, does it mean the rest should get out? It’s the same way as saying because she didn’t win, she should get out.
There are new entrants who can overtake those candidates and win. But our job is to present our candidate and support her as strongly as possible. We are not going to walk away from a good fight; after all, we don’t expect other parties to deliver our message to voters. It’s our responsibility and the campaign offers us the opportunity to deliver our message. Whether we win or lose, the campaign will not be in vain.
Going back to Bobi Wine, how does it make you feel that a candidate who has some prospects of winning rejects your party card and chooses to stand as an independent?
You have told me that FDC also discussed about offering him the card; anyway there are people who want to be independent. We never approached him; it was him who approached us for support.
It was him who started consulting among DP leaders and eventually I met him and he said he wanted our support but that we should support him as an independent and we told him no way; we cannot support you as an independent. So, as far as I’m concerned, he has made his choice; do you kill everyone who doesn’t support your party? You can’t. It’s a free country.
There are also many MPs who are in parliament with only 30 per cent of the vote; so, do you ask them how they feel because only 30% of the voters voted for them? Those are the rules. For us if he wanted to be a DP candidate, we would have given him our full support.
There is talk that when Bobi Wine posted his picture with you, there was a backlash so he now fears to identify with DP.
That was propaganda. First of all, he never said it himself; if he did, he did it to you, you quote him. It was one of our DP officials who was trying to spin that.
All that is part of a smear campaign against me. This is not the first time of him posting a picture of me and him. As you noticed, we never posted the picture ourselves; he is the one who posted it. Anyway, why would there be a backlash?
I’m the president general of DP and I’m a key decision marker in that party. So, is he saying that posing with the president general of DP diminishes him? So many people, both here and abroad, pose with me in photographs and there has been no backlash.
That is some cheap spin from some of the people who are trying to demonize DP leaders. I went and posed for a photo with the Hon. Betty Nambooze; was there a backlash against her? So, this is just cheap spin which serious people cannot take.