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As Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi prepares to seek leave of parliament to introduce a private member's bill to amend the Constitution to lift the presidential age limit, a lot is anticipated. The Observer will attempt to bring you latest updates. Kindly refresh for the latest updates. 

9:30am: Police seal off Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) offices, City Hall. Deputy Lord Mayor Sarah Kanyike's office searched and nine activism T-shirts with inscriptions 'T'ogibukula' (Don't open the Constitution) confiscated.

Police says there will be no charge against Kanyike because the T-shirts were printed out of ignorance.  City councillors had planned to march from City Hall to Constitutional Square (City Square) to protest against the amendment. 

9:21am: Police foils Lira demo. Although the anti age limit amendment demonstration had not picked up, with residents seemingly interested but afraid to join in, police was quick to step in.

Police foils anti age limit amendment demo in Lira

9.20am: MP Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga) 'helped' by fellow MPs to access parliament. Police had issued an arrest warrant for the Member of Parliament after he failed to appear at police for interrogation earlier this week to explain his remarks about age limit amendment. Parliament police had attempted to block Ssekikuko from accessing the august House but were 'overwhelmed' by legislators. 

9am: African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) journalist, Lydia Namubiru arrested. She was arrested from Democratic Party's vice president Mukasa Mbidde's home in Makindye.

8:50am: Makerere University students planning to march to Parliament. Students not committed to the cause being 'forced' out of lecture rooms. Strike started at Lumumba Hall but police calmed the situation very fast. Teargas fired and some student leaders arrested. 

A placard calling on students to march to parliament

8:30am: Solitary protestor in Lira against age limit removal, a mocked-up coffin with inscriptions “REMOVAL OF PRESIDENTIAL AGE LIMIT IS THE DEATH OF OUR COUNTRY” placed next to burning car tyre in the middle of the road. 

A mock coffin against age limit

A solitary protestor, bold enough to protest on his own as other residents in Lira look on from a distance

8:10am: Kampala Mayor Erias Lukwago arrested from his home in Wakaligga in Rubaga Divison, he has been taken to Kira Division Police Station in Namugongo. Lukwago was arrested 'live' on TV. He was giving an interview to NTV's Morning@NTV show.

1 month 1 day ago

The Lyantonde Magistrate's court has acquitted Sadat Waliggo, a freelancer writer with The Red Pepper Publications of charges of criminal libel.

Waliggo has been on trial for criminal libel contrary to section 179 of the Penal Code Act. He was dragged to court by Lyantonde resident district commissioner, Sulaiman Tiguragara Matojo after he posted information on his Facebook page linking the theft of cows belonging to the late Eria Kategeya to the RDC.

Waliggo quoted Diana Kategaya, the widow of the late Katereya implicating Matojo for being involved in the disappearance of several cattle from her farm in Buyaga village in Mpumudde sub-county in Lyantonde district.

Waliggo (in white suit) congratulated by colleagues

Muinda Tadeo, the Lyantonde Grade One magistrate acquitted Waliggo over lack of evidence. Muinda noted that prosecution had failed to adduce sufficient evidence pinning Waliggo for criminal libel over the last two years and therefore acquitted him.

Waliggo's acquittal threw several journalists who attended the court session into wild celebrations. Waliggio told journalists that he is happy the matter has been dismissed. 

A group of boda boda riders led a procession in Lyantonde town to celebrate Waliggo's victory. One of the boda boda riders, John Kafeero told URN that Waliggo was doing a commendable job to report news.

He warned the RDC against intimidating journalists and asked him to concentrate on monitoring service delivery. Matojo didn't show up in court.

1 month 3 days ago

Members of parliament have expressed concern over the unusual heavy deployment of military and regular policemen in the city centre and in the precincts of parliament.

Military police are seen stationed at Constitutional Square (formerly City Square) with armoured vehicles and around parliament seemingly on alert.

The heavy deployment of the forces in the strategic areas, police says is because several youth groups have been planning to storm parliament over the removal of the age limit.

Security at parliament has been beefed up 

MPs under the ruling NRM caucus last week endorsed the lifting of the presidential age limit in order to have President Museveni seek for another elective term in office after clocking 75 years. Under the current provision, Museveni would be ineligible to stand for presidency as he would be two years older above the 75-year cap.

Cabinet, last week also endorsed a decision to have Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi introduce a private member's bill to have the age limit lifted.

Addressing a press conference last week, a section of NRM MPs stated that they would fight the age limit removal by "going to the gym" and "tearing the documents related to the bill", forcing police to summon them for offensive communication and inciting violence.

The minister of state for Investment and Privatization, Evelyn Anite responded by saying the ruling party had the army its side. 

On the heavy deployment, the MPs condemned the deployment at parliament, stating that as representatives of the people, they cannot sit down and watch the Constitution being robbed of its glory.

Theodore Ssekikubo, the Lwemiyaga MP stated that police has failed to protect Ugandans from various forms of insecurities but instead works much towards stopping a just cause. He says as leaders, they are encouraged to fight more even under intimidation.

"It is now a matter in the public domain, they should allow the public to closely follow the developments...I condemn in the strongest terms the activity that is taking place around parliament.

The activities of amassing the anti-riot police, the military police and others for no reason at all. What is happening here in this parliament. What has happened? But why are you now intimidating others. Why are you suffocating the live debate? If there are people who received the man’s [Museveni] money, it is time they declare that money", Ssekikubo said.

Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko states that government is using its resources to suppress people who are fighting for the right cause. He insists that despite the intimidation, they will mobilise more Ugandans to fight the removal of age limit.

Monica Amoding (Kumi Woman) MP said that although the deployment is not good, Ugandans should not be intimidated. Amoding says all Ugandans should rise up and defend their Constitution.

She says as far as it stands, Ugandans who are rejecting the lifting of the age limit, are on the right path. Reading from the Bible in the book of Jeremiah 1;17, Amoding said they are not scared.

"Do not be terrified before them or I will terrify you before them. Today, I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land, against Kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. For I am with you and I will rescue you, thus says the word of God. So we are not intimidated, we have the hand of God upon our lives for such a time as this we came to this parliament", she said.

Military police were also seen hiding away in private vehicles with tinted windows inside and outside parliament.

Emilian Kayima, the police spokesperson Kampala Metropolitan Police notes that the presence of police in Kampala is not peculiar. He says the MPs should not be intimidated and go about their business.

He says police can only come in when there is violence. Asked whether the deployment is in relation to the age limit debate, Kayima said it was not.

Yesterday police arrested over 14 youths, the Alternatives dubbed 'White Angels' who were on the streets to protest the removal of the age limit. The youth were arrested as they handed flyers to Ugandans calling on them to "defend the Constitution before it's too weak to defend you."

Four MPs, Muhammad Nsereko, Barnabas Tinkasimire, Allan Ssewanyana and Theodore Ssekikubo have been summoned by police to answer to questions of offensive communication and inciting violence.

1 month 3 days ago

Police and military have deployed at CID headquarters in Kibuli, Kampala where four MPs are appearing to record statements over their alleged inciteful remarks.

Four MPs Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga, NRM), Muhammad Nsereko (Kampala Central, Ind), Barnabas Tinkasimire (Buyaga County, NRM) and Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West, DP) are expected at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters at Kibuli today.
“We are looking forward to interacting with them. We hope it will be a brief interaction because we have to attend parliament at 2pm,” Mr Nsereko said.

Mr Sewanyana said: “I know I have committed no offence by speaking out my mind. I’m an MP and that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Ms Monicah Amoding (Kumi, NRM) yesterday said the summonses reflect “panic on the side of those pushing for the amendments”, adding that they are moving on with mobilisations.

Mr Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West, DP) at CID

Mr Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West, DP) at CID oofices in Kibuli. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA

The press conference came on the heels of summonses sent through the Office of the Speaker, requiring the legislators to appear for interrogation over “offensive communication and incitement”.
Mr Ssekikubo said the summonses are misplaced and should instead be directed to the State Minister for Investment, Ms Evelyn Anite, who “incited the military against the constitutional order”.
He said the statements were made within the precincts of Parliament.

Mr Nsereko dared the pro-age limit removal group to “refrain from threats since you said you have the numbers”.
“Why do you have to humiliate them if you think they are few in number and you think the decision you are taking is very popular and that you will be welcomed with flowers by the members of the public?” he asked.

Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa (Kiboga, NRM) has invited NRM MPs to a caucus meeting tomorrow, which will officially approve the amendment.
Mr Raphael Magyezi (NRM, Igara West) was chosen to present a motion seeking leave of Parliament to introduce a Private Member’s Bill, wherein an amendment to Article 102(b) will be contained.

The spokesperson of CID, Mr Vincent Ssekate, said the four MPs must appear at the police.

“We are investigating serious cases that they must appear. If they don’t, then the police will have to use its powers in ensure that they appear for interviews,” Mr Ssekate said.
Yesterday, religious leaders under the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda led by their chairperson Mufti Shaban Mubajje said harassment of people against or for the lifting of the age limit by security agencies should stop.

This isn’t the first time politicians have been summoned for similar offences whenever there is a debate of sticky political issue in the country.
In 2011, during walk-to-work protests against rise in commodity prices more than 20 Opposition leaders were summoned to CID, but many were not prosecuted.

1 month 3 days ago

Members of Parliament have expressed concern over the deployment of military and regular policemen in the city centre and around the Parliament.

Military police have been stationed at City square with armoured vehicles and the precincts of Parliament on alert.
Although police have not issued a statement in relations to the heavy deployment of the forces in the strategic areas, several youth groups have been planning a demonstration in the city centre over the planned removal of the age-limit.

MPs under the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) caucus last week endorsed the lifting of the Presidential age-limit in what most say, it’s aimed at having President Museveni seek for another elective term in office after clocking 75 years.
Mr Museveni would be technically not qualify to run in the next presidential elections if Article 102(b) is not amended to lift the age limit for one to contest for presidency.

Article 102 (b) of the Constitution caps the presidential age at between 35 and 75 years. At least 271 members of the NRM caucus had appended their signatures to a document supporting a proposal to table a Bill in parliament to remove the age limit cap.

Police and military officers on a police truck

Police and military officers on a police truck down town Kampala. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA

Last Friday, the cabinet for the first time also endorsed a decision to have a private member, the Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi, to introduce a private member’s Bill.

A youth group, the Alternatives yesterday dispersed protesters dubbed ‘white angels’ to the streets in protest of the removal of the age-limit before they were rounded up by police.
Addressing a press conference last week, a section of NRM Members of Parliament stated that they would fight the age limit removal by "going to the gym" and "tearing the documents related to the Bill", forcing police to summon them for threatening violence and inciting the public.

The MPs condemned the deployment at Parliament, stating that as representatives of the people, they cannot sit down and watch the Constitution being robbed of its glory.
Mr Theodore Ssekikubo, the Lwemiyaga MP stated that Police has failed to protect Uganda from various forms of insecurities but works much towards stopping a just cause. He says as leaders, they are encouraged to fight more even in the intimidations.

One of the youth activists on a police truck

One of the youth activists on a police truck after being arrested for demonstrating against lifting of age-limit in Kampala on September 18, 2017. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA

Ms Monica Amoding, the Kumi Municipality MP noted with great concern the level of deployment. She says it is not good for Ugandans to be intimidated on a right cause. Amoding says all Ugandans should rise up and defend their constitution.

She says as far as it stands, Ugandans who are rejecting the lifting of the age limit are on the right path. Reading from the book of Jeremiah 1:17, Ms Amoding said they are not scared.

Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko states that Government is using its resources to suppress people who are fighting for the right cause. He says changing the Constitution to lift age limit is going overboard.
He says they will mobilise more Ugandans to fight the removal of age limit.

The Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson Emilian Kayima noted that the presence of police in Kampala is not peculiar. He says the MPs should not be intimidated and go about their business.
According to him, police can only come in when there is violence. Asked whether the deployment is in relation to the agelimit debate, Mr Kayima said it was not.

Four MPs, Muhammad Nsereko, Barnabas Tinkasimire, Allan Ssewanyana and Theodore Ssekikubo have been summoned by Police to answer to questions of inciting violence.

1 month 3 days ago

As ruling party members of parliament seeking to abolish the upper age limit continue their push to amend the constitution accordingly, cracks have surfaced in the movement with some members who signed up in favour of a private member’s bill withdrawing their support.

On Tuesday, September 12, a big group of NRM MPs told journalists that at least 277 MPs had signed up to support the draft legislation that aims to remove article 102(b) from the constitution.

But in separate interviews at the weekend, some MPs claimed they were conned into attending the meeting at the Parliamentary Conference hall, and signing for the resolution.

Some said they were called by telephone while others said they were found in the corridors of parliament by colleagues and nudged to attend last Tuesday’s meeting.

Ministers Arinaitwe Rwakajara, Adolf Mwesigye and Evelyn Anite address the media after the NRM meeting last week

“I was going to attend a Natural Resources committee meeting when a colleague I sit with on that committee told me, ‘first come and we check out the conference hall; the parliamentary commissioners need us for a few minutes then we proceed to that the committee meeting’,” Manjiya MP John Baptist Nambeshe said.

“My colleague didn’t allow me to ask questions, he only told me to hurry and I followed him to the conference hall where we were given a form to register our names, but I didn’t know what the meeting was about,” Nambeshe added.

He said he filled the registration form thinking it was the normal attendance register for meetings, only for the conveners of that meeting to turn around and claim that everyone on the list was a supporter of the removal of presidential age limits.

Kitagwenda MP Abas Agaba similarly told The Observer on Friday that he was dragged to that meeting by a friend.

“There are many other colleagues who feel Tuesday’s stage-managed meeting was not good and it was not in good faith.

We should have been informed about the agenda and prepare for the meeting,” Agaba said.

“I signed the attendance form like we normally do. Then as I sat I realized the discussions were different; I walked out. Later, I came to understand that our appended signatures were [taken to be in support] of the age limit removal. This was not right and I am not part of that group; it was a group of vigilantes with personal interests,” the Kitagwenda MP added.

Mawokota South MP John Bosco Lubyayi has a similar tale.

He said he was called by a colleague who told him that commissioners needed to meet them for 30 minutes in the conference hall.

“When I entered, I signed the attendance list, which had a very good heading,  ‘consultative meeting on constitutional amendments’. It was not specific on the 75-year age limit. So, I sat and they introduced the removal of the 75-year age cap from the constitution; all of a sudden they called in the press and said we had resolved to remove the age limit from the constitution without listening to our views,” Lubyayi said.

“I think we have had enough of one president and this is the only way we can get a new president. I’m not against my chairman but I feel we need another president. After 75 years, the best thing is for the president to rest and we get another one.”

NRM supporters meeting to pass the resolution to amend the Constitution

Lubyayi was part of the original group of MPs that supported the age limit removal only to change his mind.

“I am already committed to what my people told me. I consulted them and they told me that I should not accept any amendments to the age limit and on land,” Lubyayi said.

Luuka South MP Stephen Kisa said it would be proper to extend the five-year term to seven but restore the two-term limit that was scrapped in 2005. He said two terms are enough for any president to implement his or her programmes.

“I only want term limits restored and the five-year term changed to seven years if any amendment is to be made to the constitution,” he said.

“We cannot give a framework free of any restriction, no age limit, no term limits; no, no, no; that is my stand,” Kisa said.

According to Robinah Nabbanja (Kakumiro Woman MP), a key promoter of the private member’s bill to be moved by Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi next week, only two MPs; Monicah Amoding (Kumi Woman) and John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya) have formally asked that their names be removed from the list of the bill’s supporters.

“I don’t see any problem with them [wanting out]; in any case today [Saturday], I have even got 11 more signatures.  These are old people who are members of parliament; so, they can’t say they didn’t know why they had been called,” Nabbanja said. “The messages were very clear, some just want to pretend in front of cameras.”

But Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo, who leads a small group of NRM MPs opposed to the amendment, said on Friday that his camp has 65 NRM lawmakers.

“Those are the bold ones who have come out to demand that their signatures be withdrawn from that bogus list,” Ssekikubo said.

He said the bold ones include; Kitagwenda’s Abbas Agaba, Kumi Municipality’s Silus Aogon and Kyenjojo Woman MP Spellanza Baguma.

Others are Sam Lyomoki (Workers), Felix Okot Ogong (Dokolo South), Patrick Nsamba Oshabe (Kasambya) and Barnabas Tinkasiimire.

On Friday, these joined Ssekikubo, Amoding and Nambeshe, as well as Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) at a press conference whey they condemned the move and vowed to block it.

“This is an opportunity for me to implement what I swore at my inauguration as MP. I swore to protect and defend the constitution of the Republic of Uganda, and there is no time I will do that other than now,” Nsamba said.

“They have tried to make this a battle between the opposition and NRM but this is a battle for Ugandans defending the constitution. We are not going to allow them to rape the constitution, we are here to defend it,” the Kasambya MP added.

Anite censure

Meanwhile, a section of NRM MPs on Friday threatened to move a censure motion against minister of state for Investment and Privatization Evelyn Anite.

An outspoken supporter of the anti-age limit bill, some MPs were angered by the minister’s remarks during a press briefing at parliament on Thursday. Anite told journalists that her group couldn’t be intimidated because it is in power and has the support of the army.

Okot Ogong said Anite’s statements were unfortunate and unconstitutional.

“The constitution is very clear in Chapter 12 Article 208, that the UPDF shall be non-partisan, national in character, professional, disciplined and subordinate to civilian authority; the minister’s statements should be condemned and withdrawn immediately,” said the Dokolo South MP.

“It is very unfortunate that a minister makes a statement of that nature and calls the constitution a disorganized document - a constitution she swore to defend, and that they want to organize it! She should withdraw the statement and apologize to the country.”

The critical MPs said  bringing the army into the age limit discussion was reckless.

“This is the struggle of the majority and we are the majority in this cause. We are on the right side of history; this is a very critical moment we are in and we want to make our positions clear in order to guide our colleagues in NRM and the general public,” Amoding said.

“We are not scared at all because the army is subordinate to civilian authority, we have the army of the people of Uganda fully behind us and we are ready for anything,” Okot Ogong added.

Ssekikubo said Anite’s statement amounts to treason.

“Dragging the army into civil debate is treasonable. This is because a member of cabinet is attempting to incite and instigate the army to take over a constitutional order,” Ssekikubo said.

“As we speak now, Anite and group ought to be behind bars in Luzira on account of treason.”

Anite speaks

Interviewed for a comment on Saturday, she said, “There are so many death threats coming from members of parliament and the public just because we have a different view. I have been getting a lot of messages and phone calls threatening to kill me but the climax was when our colleague Hon [Betty] Nambooze said on the parliamentary forum that we have chosen the path of bloodshed.”

“We told them that parliament is where we go to legislate; we speak with words but not with fistfights. I said if my life is threatened and the only organ to protect me is the army and police but they wanted to twist the whole story. But seriously, if someone threatens to kill you as a civilian, don’t you call for protection; if I also threatened them, they should seek the same protection but not to resort to mob justice,” she added.  

namuloki16@gmail.com

1 month 4 days ago

After a long meeting on Friday, cabinet publicly declared its full backing for ruling party MPs pushing a bill to scrap the constitutional presidential age limit.

For long spoken about in roundabout fashion, it has rapidly become official policy to support a design whose effect will be to extend President Museveni’s three-decade grip on state power beyond the current 75-year cap.

He will be 77 at the next election in 2021. Insider sources say that by the time Ruth Nankabirwa, the government chief whip, ended her briefing on the proposed private member’s bill, she was preaching to the converted.

It did not matter that it had stoked opposition fires, with angry denunciations of ‘life presidency’ ambitions burning across social media. Her delivery was inside the Cabinet boardroom on floor 9, Office of the President.

Ruth Nankabirwa (kneeling) greeting PM Ruhakana Rugunda as First Deputy PM Moses Ali looks on earlier this year 

“I told the meeting about the ongoing mobilisation by different groups of MPs on a proposal to amend the Constitution, and that one of the groups convened a big meeting, which was attended by some ministers although that meeting was not formally called by the government chief whip,” Nankabirwa said by telephone on Saturday.

She laid down for colleagues the build-up of events to last Tuesday’s surprise informal resolution by NRM MPs. She agreed with the MPs’ argument that the government has dithered in presenting a bill for comprehensive electoral reforms.

“We said we should not antagonise the private member’s bill but I am going to look at their resolution to see if it has financial implications,” Nankabirwa told The Observer.

Ruling on a petition following the disputed 2016 presidential election, the Supreme court set a two-year time frame for these reforms. It is probably in this context that Nankabirwa broached the subject.

“I wanted to know whether government is going to constitute the Constitutional Review Commission,” she said, “because MPs don’t wish to handle the amendments in the last quarter of parliament.”

Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Kahinda Otafiire, through whose docket the reforms are expected, yesterday said he sees no contradiction.  

“The two are complementary, they are not parallel. If members of parliament want to bring a private member’s bill, it’s their choice. There is nothing that compels them to follow what we are doing if we are slow and they want that law much earlier,” he said

“It’s their right but that won’t stop us from bringing a comprehensive bill and the constitution review commission that will also find its way to parliament. Parliament makes laws and is at liberty to choose what to discuss and when to discuss it.”

After Nankabirwa, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda is said to have asked minister of State for Investment and Privatization, Evelyn Anite, to clarify what she meant by recent comments about the army supporting NRM. A belligerent Anite had on Thursday said they won’t be intimidated by their opponents.

“I want to make it very clear to them [opponents of the bill] again that you cannot intimidate a ruling party. Because if you go looking for support, we don’t go looking for support. We’re the party in government. We have the support of the magye [army]...,” Anite said.

Sources say Anite seemed to reverse herself on Friday, telling cabinet that she was quoted out of context. The junior minister reportedly said she intended to mean that security agencies will, in exercise of their mandate, not allow anyone to threaten violence.

Uganda’s armed forces are enjoined by the Constitution to be neutral, non-partisan institutions of state. Anite’s bungling notwithstanding, ministers remained united.

“The general sentiment was that we need to handle it now and get it out of the way,” sources said.

Reportedly vocal were Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde, the minister for Security; Maj Bright Rwamirama (state for Veteran Affairs) and Anite.

“Almost everyone talked and they kept repeating one another that we should support the private member’s bill,” the sources said.

Dr Rugunda gave the chairman’s seal of approval, saying: “We should fully support it; it is already on table. We should just conclude it and get it out of the way other than leaving it in the public domain for many years.”

Shortly, minister for ICT and Information Frank Tumwebaze was directed to announce cabinet’s decision through mainstream and social media.

“Moving a private member’s bill is a right of any member of parliament and the executive can only put up an objection if that proposed bill has financial implications that distort the national budget priorities as envisaged under Article 93 of the constitution,” Tumwebaze said at the week’s end.

“The executive can also object to a private member’s bill if it’s unconstitutional or is seeking to reverse any government policy. Without those, the executive can’t object to any proposed private member’s bill. The merits and demerits of it will be discussed by parliament if tabled,” he added.

President Museveni was not in cabinet on Friday but is understood to have met some promoters of the bill a day after Tuesday’s surprise developments.

In attendance at State House last Wednesday were Peter Ogwang (Usuk), Robinah Nabbanja (Kakumiro Woman), Arinaitwe Rwakajara (Workers) as well as former Forum for Democratic Change deputy treasurer Anita Among (Bukedea Woman) and Michael Tusiime (Mbarara Municipality).

This gathering convened shortly before Museveni’s live media appearance to discuss the contentious Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017, on land.

A source said the MPs gave him a progress report and plan of action. Museveni reportedly encouraged them, later affirming this on air where he maintained that these MPs were acting as volunteers within their constitutional rights.

At the Tuesday meeting, some members expressed the need to move quickly, possibly even pressing parliament to waive its rules on how long bills are scrutinised in committee.

Nankabirwa reflected this tone, telling The Observer: “I am waiting for the notification; so, that I can call a caucus meeting maybe by Wednesday in accordance with the NRM caucus rules of procedure.”

1 month 4 days ago

Hajji Abdul Nadduli

Hajji ABDUL NADDULI, the minister without portfolio, has said he will never support any bill that takes away people's right to own land.

Speaking to The Observer's Baker Batte Lule at his office in Kampala, Nadduli said the current land laws are sufficient to deal with compulsory land acquisition since require prior and prompt compensation of owners.

What are your thoughts about the proposed Constitution Amendment Bill 2017?

The 1900 Buganda agreement created two categories of landowners; where one owns land and the other kibanja. The agreement also provided that in case government needed to use someone’s land, it would be taken over and the owner compensated.

On the other hand, when the owner of the land wants to use it, he would either buy it from the kibanja holder or compensate him with another kibanja.

The Busuulu and Nvujo law also emphasized that both the land and kibanja owners had perpetual rights over their land. That is the reason I fought with katikkiro Peter Mayiga on the issue of Kyapa mu Ngalo because he wanted to turn our bibanja into leases that expire after 50 years.

The Kabaka, who the 1900 agreement gave 350 square miles of land; can he use it all to the exclusion of other Baganda?

If we are to protect this country, we have to be like a bicycle; it has two tires and two brakes. Land is the rear brake; the most effective on the bicycle and the kibanja is the front brake but they best work when they are both applied. So, if you want to front one at the expense of the other, you will be causing problems for the country.  

Going back to the amendment, what do you think is the most contentious issue?

I don’t support any law that gives Museveni or the government the right to ownership of our land because the power to use any piece of land for government projects is already provided for in the laws starting with the 1900 Buganda agreement.

When I saw him in Masaka saying that he agrees that people should be compensated first by putting in place two valuers, I jubilated. Those who first gave us the copy said that  after government valuing your land, they will throw you whatever amount they want and then say go to court; that will be thuggery.

But I would like to say that even you who is currently in power and using it to steal people’s properties even yours will be stolen one day.  This is a government; it has no friendship; today you are in tomorrow you are out; it’s like boarding a bus, when you pay, you are given a seat but that doesn’t mean that they have given you ownership of the bus.

So, how do you want government to handle this issue?  

Government can only own land when it is going to use it for projects that benefit all people. Let me ask you; don’t we need cattle as a country?

But have you heard that in this current amendment when Ugandans need cows, they can just go to someone’s farm and pick and then they [owners] are paid later? So, why are people interested in one item; land? Can somebody who has no account in a bank write a cheque and they give him money?

For someone to own land, that is their claim of citizenship in this country; when government takes that away and the account that has been showing Nadduli now reads government, that will  be source of problems.

I also want to teach those who come from outside of Buganda that saying that people who collaborated with whites were traitors is wrong. Museveni has been in Kibaale giving out titles; whom has he betrayed? Those two acts are conflicting.

The Kabaka gave out titles and you are also giving out titles; how do you turn around and criticise him for being a traitor; how? That is undermining people; we must appreciate the role played by those who came before us. We shouldn’t think that it is only us who have contributed to this country.

Buganda signed an agreement with the whites to become a protectorate in 1894. This saved it from becoming a colony like Kenya where all the [good] land was taken over by whites and Indians. Is it what he also wanted to happen in our country?

Tooro became part of Uganda in 1900, Ankole in 1901, the entire eastern became part of Uganda in 1903, Kigezi 1910, Lango and Acholi 1912, West Nile 1914, Karamoja 1926 and Bunyoro in 1933. That is the Uganda we have today. What does Museveni say about this kind of arrangement and where was he?

None of these regions has a signature on our 1900 Buganda agreement that also brought them to join what we now call Uganda. They came to get services from here.

Therefore, those of you who just joined us, you can’t force us to abandon what belongs to us. We shouldn’t do it because if we do [so], it will kill our unity and the next time Uganda disintegrates, we might not fight for it. We might fight for our different regions so that everybody goes back where they came from. If you don’t want to take in the Buganda agreement wholly, then jump over.
 
But doesn’t Museveni have a point when he says there was some unfairness in the way land was divided which is now fuelling land evictions?  

This Museveni era is the one which has brought conflicts between bibanja and land owners; he should just clean his regime.

Tell me starting with the 1960s and 1970s which group came out and evicted people from their bibanja? It’s them who have brought this havoc; the law used to be respected, when you need a kibanja, you buy it, when you need land, you buy it; that’s all.

How should government handle the friction between landowners and squatters?

The president should come out strongly and recruit civil servants who have love for this country and loyalty to him. We now have young people like you who are FDC but working in the NRM government that they don’t want. That’s why they are trying to antagonise the government.

They have been wondering why the NRM is so strong in the villages and that’s why they are bringing this turmoil to turn upside down our government. I call on the president to look out for these people and chase them out of our government.

Are you not trying to look for scapegoats to hide your government’s failures?

You know it’s when the issue of land came up that Besigye also started campaigns on land. How? Why doesn’t he go and do those campaigns in his area?

But it’s the president moving around the country educating us on the need of the law; how then do you say it’s an FDC thing?

There have been people misleading the president on this thing of land because we have the law that provides for government acquisition of land without changing the current law. You can’t just wake up one morning and take over the ownership of a property that my forefathers fought for. Can that be possible?

Now that we have the law, on what should the government focus attention?

Like I said, there are some people who misled the president because when you look at the current law, it’s sufficient to enable government acquire land and also compensate owners.

Government put in place a committee headed by the vice president to internalise this bill and come out with a report. Do you think it’s also wasting time?

Government business has what we call terms of reference. What were that committee’s terms of reference? Having a pathologist doesn’t stop me from disagreeing on a postmortem, but this doesn’t invalidate their work.

Let the committee come up with their report but we also have opinions about the bill. In any case, the Constitution is bound to be changed. FDC was saying we shouldn’t change the law but how will they then put in what they want if they think the law cannot be changed?

I also don’t know where the MPs from Buganda are in all this. Many said they were going to parliament to fight for Buganda issues but have you heard them say anything? Is the Buganda they said they were going to fight for in heaven?

Even us as Baganda, we have demands; why do we leave all the amendments to be brought by Museveni?

Our 9,000 square miles of land we have been asking for are not for Banyankore, Bacholi or Langi. It is for Baganda, it’s the time for them to bring back our land. It’s time for the Baganda to also come out; if government wants to amend the law, they must first give us something in return. This is a situation of give and take, it’s the only way we can have our MPs support this bill.

But you speak like you are not part of government.

When I’m talking about issues affecting Uganda, don’t give me sides; I’m a Ugandan. In the same breath; when I’m talking about Buganda issues, I talk about them as a Muganda; so, when you say you belong to this or that side, you are trying to gag me.

Ministers Abdul Nadduli (L), Kahinda Otafiire and Henry Tumukunde

NRM MPs have resolved to table in parliament a private member’s bill to scrap age limits. What’s your take on the matter?

If MPs convened to consult themselves, what’s wrong with it? The problem is that many of you have interpreted this as if the law has been passed.

The proposal can be rejected. However, I also want to tell those MPs that they should come up with briefs to show us the usefulness of that proposal. They shouldn’t leave us hanging.

But do you think it’s wise to remove age limits from our Constitution?

How old are you? Have you bothered to find out how many of the developed countries have got age limits in their constitutions? Does the United Kingdom, France, Italy have age limits?

But all those countries have strong institutions that anyone can use them to come to power not like in countries like ours where the EC and all other organs are subservient to the president.

Recently the president told NTV that he will never stand as president past 75 years of age. Now he is speaking with a tongue in the cheek telling us to go and ask doctors about the fitness of someone who is post 75. Can your boss be trusted?

The Baganda say: Ak’omuntu sik’ante nti weyakaabira jjo n’olwaleero. We people change. That’s even how countries grow. There has never been and there will never be soft politics even if it’s FDC in power.

1 month 4 days ago

On Tuesday, September 12, a peaceful NRM parliamentary consultative meeting turned rowdy the moment a resolution to amend the Constitution to lift presidential age limits was announced in front of television cameras.

Kumi Woman MP, Monica Amoding, was arguably the loudest protester against that resolution announced in the parliamentary Conference hall with about 245 NRM MPs in attendance.

Olive Eyotaru interviewed Amoding at the weekend and she explained why she is opposed to the removal of presidential age limits.

You created a spectacle in parliament during the NRM meeting last Tuesday over the age limit debate. Why was that?

The meeting was called by a few NRM colleagues and they called it a consultative meeting. However, we did not get any formal invitation, it was just phone calls.

It was not an official NRM caucus meeting called to discuss the removal of presidential age limits. It is improper to say that it is an NRM decision, first of all. Many MPs went to the meeting expecting to discuss the land Constitutional amendment bill and then other issues because the meeting was pegged on constitutional issues, particularly land issues.

We went there with the hope of making our contributions on the land amendment because we had proposals to give to the committee set up by NRM.

But when we reached there, the agenda concentrated on age limits yet they had not consulted us to know whether we would like to support the resolution yet members had appended their signatures without knowing that a resolution was going to be made in that respect. Many of us do not support the amendment of the Constitution.

We are here to defend and protect the Constitution because that is what we swore to do and therefore any machinations and schemes by some of our colleagues to mend the Constitution are uncalled for and unnecessary.

But the conveners of the meeting accused you of playing to the gallery, of seeking cheap popularity.

I signed and [left] to attend a committee meeting. When I returned to the meeting, I tried to find out how far the discussions had gone. I asked my colleagues about the discussions and resolutions made and I was told that members were going to “kugikwaatako” (amend Article 102 b).

At that point, I put up my hand to raise a procedural matter that this issue was not on the agenda. Secondly, some of us are not in agreement; so, if you make a resolution of this nature, some of our signatures should not be on the signed-up sheet indicating that we are in support.

You are practically upstaging us to support something that we don’t believe in. I was denied audience. I stood up several times but it took a while before they gave me an opportunity. I am a woman of my word and when I am convinced by a principle, I stand by it and that is how I operate.

So, is the age limit one of those things you disagree with in principle?

As NRM, we should have first concentrated on accomplishing our manifesto. We should have first ensured that the health and education sectors are operational, which majority of Ugandans depend on.

Youth unemployment is rife and we have not yet concluded that discussion but now we are jumping on the age limit in our first and half year of parliament. Is that the most important discussion right now? We need to refocus and address our minds to the issues at hand.

We also know that the public is not in support of lifting the presidential age limit. The preamble of our Constitution deals with the historical instabilities we have had as a country and this was a very strong check on the Constitution.

We [have] already lifted the term limits and the age limit is the last roadblock that is supposed to check the executive powers and the powers of the presidency, which should not be unlimited. There must be limitations to this. They keep saying they have the numbers but that is not everything. We also have the numbers to oppose this move.

Monica Amoding protesting her fellow MPs' endorsement 

Aren’t you afraid that you will be reprimanded by the NRM party for being defiant?

Do you think that the party’s position is bigger than the position of Ugandans? It is not.

NRM is a bigger part of Uganda and the party should listen to the popular views of the people, which are against the lifting of the presidential age limit. We shall not allow them to touch the Constitution and we are ready for them on the floor of parliament.

The intimidation, threats and propaganda will come but that is part of the game. I am firm and focused because God is my help. You must accomplish that which your conscience is telling you; so, any intimidation is inconsequential.

Some of your colleagues in the NRM have accused the anti-age limit group of actually intimidating them. One of them mentioned that they have the backing of the army.

Some people think it is a do-or-die affair. Why are they thinking that without President Museveni, Uganda is going to come to an end? Uganda cannot come to an end because he has retired.

There will be people to take the mantle. When we leave, Uganda will be around; so, these threats that the army is on our side are baseless.

I am happy that the army has come out clearly to rubbish these statements and we want to say it was totally careless talk from some wanton colleagues of ours. [The army] are here to protect Ugandans, not otherwise. The fundamental work we are doing is to defend our constitution at all costs.

Do you think some of your NRM colleagues silently support your stance?

It is not a battle of enmity but one of ideas. We are encouraging them and speaking to them to reconsider their position.

These resolutions are pitting us against the public. We are looking bad as parliament because people think we are being bribed. It is not nice at all and we want them to know our position.

We are many on the opposing side; so, let them not think that they have the majority. We may look weak but we are the popular voice.

1 month 4 days ago

In the wake of increased criticism of his work methods, Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura has said sacking him will not stop the rise in crime around the country.

In an hour-long address to local government leaders at their 23rd annual general meeting held on Saturday in Mubende, Gen Kayihura said he was fed up with the relentless criticism of the police.

Under his watch, the police stands accused of operating as a militia -- protecting the NRM regime by unleashing unprovoked violence on its opponents instead of serving and protecting the community – which is its primary mandate.

Kayihura referred to a meeting President Museveni recently held with police commanders from the central region over the spate of murders.

“The president was criticising us that we have failed to stamp out crime... If we are to prevent crime, we must address the root causes of crime in society,” Kayihura said at St Peter’s Technical Institute Mubende.

“It has now become fashionable to criticise the police in Parliament instead of highlighting the actual problems and strategise on how to solve them,” he said.

Next, he obliquely drew attention to his clash with Security minister Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde over the Entebbe and Nansana women killings.

“These songs of police this, police that...Kayihura alemeddwa [has failed]. People, okay, Kayihura can be sent to Luzira but I tell you, if you don’t address the problems in society, even if you put [appoint] I don’t know who, [but] whoever you put there, the problems of crime will not be solved,” he said.

Kayihura and Tumukunde were recently on a collision path with both bush war notables running parallel investigations into the unexplained murders of women in Nansana and Entebbe.

He said his interactions with criminal gangs (kifeesi) and prostitutes in both areas have revealed that many of them were driven into crime by unemployment.

The police chief called out the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development for failing to reach out to unemployed youth groups. He cited an example of a sex worker who told him that she was forced to use her “God-given capital” after failing to fend for her two children.

Yes, police is accountable to Ugandans, but local leaders should stop complaining before the president about the corruption in the force, he said.

“Instead of waiting for the president to complain, why don’t you arrest those corrupt police officers?” Kayihura wondered amidst murmurs. “You have a constitutional mandate as leaders; discipline any corrupt characters in the police instead of complaining. If you are [doubtful], I have given you the authority as IGP,” Kayihura said.

Similarly, Kayihura said he is tired of persistent reports ranking police as the most corrupt and leading abuser of human rights.

Police is partnering the Uganda Local Governments Association and cultural leaders to strengthen the monitoring of the police personnel, he revealed.

Uganda’s top cop also spoke in defence of crime preventers who have been accused of several violations.

“Now, a person like [former prime minister] Amama Mbabazi who is a knowledgeable, highly respected legal scholar and a great leader...how could he go to the Supreme court and claim that crime preventers are a Kayihura militia?” he asked.

“You can see how someone can get corrupted by politics. Really, someone like [Mbabazi] who has got a great history of the revolutionary struggle degenerates because he wants power,” he said.

Despite their shortcomings, the IGP said he is still convinced that crime preventers help police to deal with crime. Kayihura said the police will buy more motorcycles such that each parish receives at least two for police patrols. He also revealed that the government is in advanced stages of acquiring CCTV cameras.

“We are in advanced stages of procuring a national CCTV camera system; it is a project that the president is micromanaging because we want something good and implemented fast because if he is to leave it to some people, it can be mishandled,” Kayihura said.

Once installed, Kayihura said, the entire country will be monitored from a single point in Kampala. He, therefore, cautioned local governments against installing security systems without involving government security agencies.

1 month 4 days ago

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