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A report submitted by the lands ministry to President Museveni about 10 days ago says Buganda kingdom has no right to the 4.4 acres of State House land that it had sought to claim.

This revelation could pave the way for Museveni to backtrack on his promise to buy the contested land from Mengo, resulting in Buganda kingdom losing up to Shs 20 billion that it expected to receive from the government.

The Observer has obtained a copy of a May 16, 2017 letter written by Lands minister Betty Amongi to Museveni, in which she says the contested land is owned by Uganda Land Commission, and not Buganda kingdom.

“If the 2013 memorandum between the central government and the Kabaka of Buganda did mention Plot No. M.26 Entebbe as one of the properties that were returned to the Kabaka of Buganda, then it must have been included in error,” she wrote. “Therefore, the current entry of proprietorship in Uganda Land Commission should be maintained on Freehold Register Volume 94 Folio 16, the land having been crown land.”

Amongi’s three-page letter is copied to nine senior government officials, including the vice president, prime minister, attorney general and the chairman  of Uganda Land Commission.

In the letter, Amongi tells Museveni, “I hope, Your Excellency, this clarifies this matter. And we shall be available to provide historical records to prove the above facts.”

State House Entebbe

When contacted for comment on this new development on Saturday, the spokesperson of the Buganda Land Board, Denis Bugaya, told The Observer that they had heard about the contents of Amongi’s letter, but added that Buganda kingdom’s land body had not received a copy.

“Such a letter should have been copied to Mengo because it concerns issues that we have raised with government,” Bugaya said, adding that he could not comment about its contents without reading it first.

MUSEVENI PROMISE

The Kabaka first laid claim to the land on which part of State House Entebbe sits in a letter dated January 31, 2017, which he sent to President Museveni. The letter said plot M.26 has always been property of Buganda kingdom and suggested that, among other issues, the government should take out a lease.

Museveni replied two months later. According to correspondences seen by The Observer, Museveni acknowledged in his initial response that the land indeed belongs to Buganda. However, the president suggested that Buganda would have to allow the government to buy the land (Plot No M.26), and put the matter to rest.

“I have noted the contents of your letter dated January 31, 2017 regarding plot M.26, land located at State House, Entebbe grounds. I will request the minister of Lands and the Attorney General to verify the ownership of the plot. If it is indeed part of the lands which were handed to His Highness in 2013, then my proposal is government buys it. We do not like the idea of rent. It becomes a perpetual hemorrhage on the treasury. Owning such plots is better than leasing,” Museveni wrote.

But Mengo, and the kabaka specifically, preferred a long-term lease arrangement through which the kingdom would be assured of consistent payments from government, in addition to retaining ownership of the land.

The Observer understands that this land was the main subject of the meeting between President Museveni and Kabaka Mutebi on April 8. The meeting happened months after Museveni and the Kabaka had exchanged correspondences over the matter.

According to our sources, during the meeting, senior officials from Mengo had bandied around a figure of Shs 20 billion for a 49-year lease for the 4.4 acres of land.

But Museveni did not concur. He called for more consultations to be done before they reach a final solution. After the meeting, Museveni asked his Lands minister and attorney general to speed up their investigation into the matter and then advise him.

NEW TWIST

The result of the investigation is Amongi’s May 16, 2016 letter to Museveni, which has added an intriguing twist to the matter. Replying to Museveni’s instruction to probe the matter further, Amongi explains in her letter that her ministry has found that the land belongs to the central government.

“Plot No M.26 Entebbe is registered under freehold register volume 94 folio 16 in the name of Buganda Land Board having been registered on a transfer dated 3rd May 1963 from Uganda Land Commission under instrument No 154993 of August 28, 1963. The current registered proprietor of the said land is Uganda Land Commission (under article 108 of the constitution),” she wrote.

GOVT-MENGO DEAL IMPASSE

New information obtained by The Observer also indicates that in the April meeting, Mengo officials complained that some senior government officials were frustrating the implementation of an agreement signed on August 1, 2013 between Museveni and the kabaka.

In the agreement, the government undertook to revert to Buganda the former estate of the Buganda kingdom comprised on land in urban centres and the kingdom’s former administrative centres, among other key properties.

Some Mengo officials pointed out that some government officials were “hostile” towards Mengo in the media yet it had been agreed – according to the agreement – that both parties should not engage in any hostilities.

However, the revelation of the government’s latest position on the State House land is likely to further scuttle the implementation of the agreement between Buganda and Uganda, as well as drive a wedge in the precarious relationship between Museveni and Mutebi.

1 month 20 hours ago

The war between the minister of Kampala, Beti Kamya and KCCA executive director, Jennifer Ssemakula Musisi has escalated after the former accused the latter of being a populist and poor manager.

Speaking on CBS FM morning talk show, parliament yaffe, which is moderated by Meddie Nsereko, Kamya said Musisi has lost direction.

“Musisi has become a populist; you discuss something and then she rushes to leak it to the media. We meet every Monday; us the two ministers, the undersecretary, Musisi and her team. There is always an opportunity for her to ask anything she wants but when you bypass those channels and instead run to do your work from the media, then you’ve become a politician,” Kamya said.

“That populism can’t take us anywhere; I don’t fight petty wars but what I don’t want is populism,” she added.

On reports that 58 KCCA workers have been sacked ever since Musisi’s term was renewed less than a month ago, Kamya said, it can’t be that all of them are incompetent.

“Whenever there is a high staff turnover in an organization, just know there is a problem with management. The main role of a manager is to create a conducive/favourable working environment for your workers. That’s when you can get the best out of them,” Kamya said.

SOURCE OF FEUD

The feud between the two has roots in the 2015 KCCA (Amendment) Bill that was recently tabled before parliament by Kampala junior minister Benny Namugwanya Bugembe.

On top of clipping the powers and influence of the mayor, and the executive director, the bill also reasserts the minister as the most dominant person in the city.

According to the object of the bill, the amendments are intended to streamline and strengthen the governance of the capital city in accordance with Article 5(4) of the Constitution that places the management of Kampala in the hands of the central government.

“The Bill therefore seeks to amend the Kampala Capital City Act 2010, to address the apparent clash of roles and to reassert the powers of the central government in the administration of Kampala Capital City by vesting more powers in the minister who is a representative of the central government...” the bill reads in part.

MUSISI AGAINST BILL

In a letter that was leaked to the media, Musisi wonders how Kamya could table such a bill before parliament without hearing from the executive director’s team.

Kamya, however, denies the charge. She instead says Musisi’s legal team was represented throughout the drafting of the bill, until it reached parliament. The minister also accused Musisi of intrigue. She said even when they agree on a decision as a team, Musisi often turns around and denounces it the moment it backfires.

“All the issues I have dealt with like removing vendors from the streets, demolishing Park yard, streamlining taxi and boda boda operations, it was Musisi who invited me to handle them, saying they were too heavy for her because they involved police and politics,” Kamya said.

Unlike some leaders in Kampala, Kamya added she is no longer looking for money for survival but she simply wants to serve the people.

“All my children have completed school. I also don’t want to buy a plane; so, my job and my life now is to work for the people of Kampala. I just need support and less politics for me to do my work,” she said.

A fortnight ago, opposition-leaning leaders in Kampala led by the lord mayor Erias Lukwago vowed to do everything within their means to stop the bill from becoming law.

At a meeting convened to chart a way forward on how to confront the bill, Lukwago said if the proposed law is passed in its current form, elected leaders like himself would have no choice but to “pack our bags and go.”

“Even when they say that the provision of electing the lord mayor has been left; me and you [councilors] have to pack and go because we will not be doing anything but picking a salary. If the lord mayor has no power to do anything, what will the councilors do?” Lukwago asked.

KAYIHURA CAUSING INSECURITY

Meanwhile, Kamya has also accused the inspector general of police, Kale Kayihura of being behind insecurity in Kampala by meddling in the operations of boda bodas and taxis.

“IGP, you are one of the causes of insecurity in Kampala. Your people are beating up our people; one even lost an eye,” Kamya said. She revealed that those behind the beatings were released without charge.

“How do you release somebody who has removed another person’s eye? I’m very annoyed,” Kamya said.

1 month 20 hours ago

Kampala- Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) yesterday issued a directive to telecom companies to reactivate SIM cards whose services had been suspended after a government directive to switch them off on May 19 but the whole SIM card registration exercise remained laced with controversies.
The directive which came more than 24 hours after President Museveni’s order UCC to give Ugandans more time to register, followed a meeting between UCC and telecom officials on Wednesday morning.
In the same meeting, telecom companies were also directed to only register new subscribers using “Ugandan National Identity Cards for Ugandans and valid passports for non-Ugandans and refugee cards and letters from the Office of the Prime Minister for refugees”.
However, both UCC and the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) were until yesterday unwilling to take full responsibility on whose mandate it is to ensure all Ugandans who require National Identity registration services get them and are consequently registered to comply with the August 30 deadline issued by President Museveni.
UCC executive director Godfrey Mutabazi also revealed that the ongoing SIM card registration and verification had been imposed on UCC by security agencies.
“I think this exercise is not a UCC exercise, this is a security exercise. We are guided by the ministry of Security that we should register every SIM card with the appropriate document as mandated by the law. It is a security matter,” he said.
Without explaining how, both Security minister Henry Tumukunde and ICT and National Guidance minister Frank Tumwebaze have previously said the SIM card registration is aimed at improving the security of the country.
Addressing journalists at UCC headquarters in Kampala, Mr Mutabazi pushed the blame in the delay of the exercise on inefficiencies within NIRA’s registration process.
“There was a problem with the SIM card registration because the validation exercise is, you had to submit your details to the telecom companies and the telecom companies had to remit that information to NIRA for verification and there were some challenges because there were delays,” he said.
Mr Mutabazi explained that switching off subscribers because their NINs did not tally with NIRA’s data was wrong because the problem is not with the subscriber but “NIRA and their document” and that the three months will give NIRA time to address the concerns of the affected Ugandans.
On Tuesday Mr Gilbert Kadilo, the public relations and corporate affairs manager at NIRA, told Daily Monitor that NIRA’s registration exercise would go on after the SIM card validation process and that the authority was doing everything in its power to aid the current process.
NIRA had earlier said the ongoing SIM card validation exercise is incidental to its mandate to register all Ugandans and issue them with national IDs.
Many of the subscribers whose SIM cards had been switched off, had by press time had their services restored.

Leading telecom firm MTN Uganda had issued an advisory to its subscribers who have registered but are yet to get their NINs to use forms obtained from NIRA to register.
The matter which a government official, who we cannot name because they are not authorised to speak on the matter, has warned against because it is likely to cause duplication in the future, had earlier been agreed on between telecoms and government officials.
“For those without national IDs/NINs but have applied for one and have an application form number, you can dial *197# and select option 2 to enter your application ID, given name and surname,” the statement reads in part.

1 month 3 days ago

In her constitutional petition challenging the 1938 Mental Treatment Act, Makerere University researcher Stella Nyanzi says the state wants to embarrass her by insisting she takes a mental exam.

Nyanzi, who is facing criminal charges at Buganda Road court for allegedly abusing President Museveni on social media, says in her affidavit that the mental check aims at shaming her since her arrest and incarceration attracted lots of international media attention.

According to Nyanzi, when her case first came up for hearing on April 10, prosecutor Jonathan Muwaganya, who applied for a mental exam, was fully aware of the large number of local and foreign journalists in attendance in court, hence the application was made in bad faith with the sole purpose of humiliating and denting  her credibility.

In the affidavit, she says that despite protesting personally and through her lawyers about the legality and the constitutionality of the actions of the respondent [Attorney General], the state paid a deaf ear.

“I was only permitted to take plea to the charges. My bail application and trial on the impugned charges was deferred till the disposal of the respondent’s application under the mental treatment Act,” she said.

Stella Nyanzi in court recently

Nyanzi, a virulent government critic on social media, faces criminal charges for allegedly referring to President Museveni as a “pair of buttocks” on Facebook.

Yesterday, Nyanzi re-appeared before Buganda Road court but the case was adjourned to June 7th after  the resident state attorney, Jonathan Mugwanya, failed to turn up.

The controversial academic’s constitutional challenge to the Mental Treatment Act stems from an application now before Buganda Road chief magistrate’s court, in which the state wants her sanity ascertained first before her trial proceeds.

Through Kwesigabo, Bamwine and Walubiri Advocates and the Center for Legal Aid, Nyanzi attacks section (1) of the Mental Treatment Act (cap 279), which she says is inconsistent with articles 20, 21, 23, 24, 32, 4 and 44 and paragraphs XIV, XVI and XX of the national objectives and directive principles of state policy enshrined in the Constitution.

Nyanzi says the Act is unconstitutional because it fails to provide universally acceptable objective criteria to determine unsoundness of mind in keeping with contemporary attitudes towards mental health. Instead, she says, the Act uses vague, overly broad, offensive, discriminatory, inhuman, degrading and outdated language to define a person of unsound mind as “an idiot.”

She also accuses the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of violating the Constitution in seeking to inquire into her mental state yet the initial charges brought against her by the same office remain vague.  

“The director of public prosecutions subverted his role under Article 120 of the Constitution by using a strange procedure not known under the law to bring proceedings under the Mental Treatment Act against your petitioner since there was no evidence to support the baseless criminal charges against her,” the petition states.

Chief magistrate Mawanda  is also accused of “temporarily detaining” Nyanzi on April 10 when he refused to hear her first bail application in preference of hearing the prosecution quest for a mental  exam.   

But her lawyers said the move denied Nyanzi the constitutional guarantees of liberty, dignity, privacy and a speedy and fair trial. Consequently, Nyanzi is seeking a court order that will permanently stay the proceedings against her under the Mental Treatment Act. 

1 month 3 days ago

A new group of senior Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) members has launched a fresh attempt to oust Jimmy Akena, the party’s national president.

Akena is accused of selling UPC, a party founded by his late father Apollo Milton Obote, a two-time president of Uganda, to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.

Led by the embattled party chief administrative officer, Moses Higenyi Kemba, the campaigners said they are not in any way associated with Akena’s faction, which is allied to NRM. Insider sources claim that Akena has since got about Shs 4.8 billion from President Museveni to support the alliance. But according to sources, the money has sparked a row among members who didn’t get a cut.

“As a matter of fact, there has never been and there is no such alliance, nor do the alliance talks exist between UPC and NRM; where such talks exist, then the individual members are on a fishing expedition of their own with intent to hoodwink the public and the unsuspecting UPC members,” Higenyi Kemba told journalists at Melting Pot restaurant along Buganda road on May 23.

According to Higenyi, UPC members are against any talks that are secretive, without a defined agenda and an established team of UPC members and leaders. He said he has been asked to lead the ouster of Akena and make sure he relocates from Uganda House, the UPC party headquarters, to NRM’s plot 10 Kyadondo road.

“The secretariat is now not fully constituted, the president is not there, he is busy in talks with NRM, the vice president [Patrick Mwondah] died as well as the secretary general [Edward Seganyi] and the administrator is not there and a militia group has taken over the headquarters,” Higenyi said, adding:

“We call upon all members and the leadership of UPC to come up and reclaim their party; the militia should be flashed out of the premises of Uganda House, UPC headquarters, and the journey starts today.”

He also accused Akena and his wife Betty Amongi, the minister for Lands, of selling their souls to NRM and drumming up support for President Museveni.

“You will recall that President Museveni has stated publicly that by the end of the ‘kisanja hakuna mchezo [fifth term]’, there will be no opposition in Uganda.”

1 month 3 days ago

President Museveni has rescinded an order he gave on April 21, instructing government entities not to deal with road construction firm, Dott Services, The Observer has learnt.

Several highly placed sources in government told The Observer yesterday that the decision to reverse the order came after the attorney general, William Byaruhanga, recently advised the president that the order was “unconstitutional” and could be challenged.

According to our sources, Byaruhanga reportedly told the president that the Constitution does not grant him power to give executive orders, warning that government could be sued. The attorney general proposed that in the new constitutional amendments being worked on, a provision for such orders will be included.

“The president instructed Byaruhanga to draft something overturning the order. I have seen correspondences to this effect,” said one of the sources, who attended one of the meetings.

In one of the meetings at State House Entebbe, our sources say, Museveni reportedly said his intention was not to cripple the firm, which depends largely on government, but to send a strong message to companies “which do shoddy work.”

Dott Services has been in the spotlight over shoddy work

Museveni issued the first order after High court judge Stephen Musota nullified the findings and recommendation of a government commission of inquiry blacklisting Dott Services on grounds that there is no evidence to prove that the company was responsible for the delays and losses incurred by Unra.

“An entity that wants to be shielded from being investigated should not expect to participate in government projects,” Museveni said in his letter then, copied to Byaruhanga.

The president’s order came days after one person died along the 102-kilometre Mbale-Tirinyi-Iganga highway and several others sustained injuries, after a passenger service vehicle was swept away by a heavy downpour in late April.

The affected vehicle was travelling along a diversion beside one of the three bridges under construction, as part of the rehabilitation project for the 102-kilometre highway, when the bridge and diversion gave way under the weight of the fast-flowing water.

Over the last 10 years, Dott Services has come under fire for the way it executed a number of high-profile road contracts, including the 58-kilometre Jinja–Kamuli road, as well as the Tororo-Mbale and Mbale-Soroti roads.

In July 2016, not so long after President Museveni had commissioned the newly rehabilitated Tororo-Mbale- Soroti highway, the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra) ordered the contractor, Dott Services, to re-do sections of the road.

At the time, the Unra executive director, Allen Kagina, said the authority was not satisfied with the work that Dott Services had put into the Shs 190bn project. She described some of the work as “not up to standard.”

However, as the attorney general has advised, the president cannot use those protests to take a legally binding decision against Dott Services. Our sources said in order to save face, government had decided not to make public the retraction order.

Several efforts to talk to Byaruhanga were futile. An assistant who picked his phone last evening said he was engaged in meetings. Works Minister Monica Ntege also didn’t respond to our calls, saying in a text that she, too, was in a meeting.

Venugopal Rao, the chief executive officer of Dott Services, told The Observer yesterday that the company had not been served with the first order.

“They did not write to us. We just read in the papers and on social media that our company had been suspended and shall not work with government.
Rao said he had not heard about the new order, rescinding the old one.

According to its website, Dott Services is an engineering and construction firm and was registered in Uganda in 1994.

1 month 3 days ago

In a three-page letter written on May 17 to Buganda kingdom prime minister Charles Peter Mayiga, the minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Betty Amongi, raised the government’s strongest reservations yet to the kingdom’s ongoing land titling campaign dubbed Ekyapa mu ngalo.

Amongi’s letter, which is copied to President Museveni, Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, among others, also invited Mayiga and Buganda Land Board (BLB) for a meeting the following day, May 18, to address her concerns.

According to Amongi’s letter, a copy of which The Observer has seen, the government is uncomfortable with the Ekyapa mu ngalo initiative because its implementation may conflict with Article 237 (8) of the Constitution and Section 31 (1) of the Land Act.

“How will you ensure that the occupants who become [lessees] do not lose their interest after the expiry of the lease? How will you arrive on the premium, ground rent and other terms and conditions in as far as Section 31 (3)(5)(8) and (9) are concerned?”Amongi asks.

The minister also wondered how Mengo would determine the nominal ground rent set by her ministry in 2011 under the Land (annual nominal ground rent) regulations statutory instrument 55.

“How will you handle tenants who will wish to acquire other registrable interests as stipulated under Section 38 of the Land (Amendment) Act?” Amongi wondered.

She also questioned why BLB, a privately registered company, came to manage land belonging to a cultural institution.

Kabaka Muwenda Mutebi with President Museveni at State House recently

“It has come to my knowledge that BLB has been transformed into a private company with a nominal shareholding by the Kabaka. The original concept of the official mailo is premised on it being institutional land held by the Kabaka as an institution and for the Kabaka to hold it in trust, on behalf of the people of Buganda,” Amongi said.

According to Amongi, a privately registered company cannot be accountable to the people of Buganda in as far as management of the official mailo is concerned.

She also asked how BLB, a privately incorporated company, will cater for the public interest of the beneficiaries of the official mailo. On May 24, Buganda royals petitioned the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led commission of inquiry into land matters to revisit BLB’s control over the estate of the late Kabaka Daudi Chwa II.

Prime Minister Rugunda has since asked Amongi to set up a sub-committee to investigate issues raised by Daudi Chwa’s family. The sub-committee is headed by Isaac Musumba, the minister of state for Urban Development. The family claims that part of the 350 square miles returned to the Kabaka belong to them but that BLB and the Kabaka have excluded them from its management.

GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS

In her letter, Amongi further wonders why BLB wrote to public institutions such as National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), government installations and entities, as well as local governments, urging them to vacate the kingdom land or pay “exorbitant ground rent and premium.”

“Under cabinet minute 125 (CT 2016), cabinet directed my ministry to engage the kingdom officials on this matter and report back. Therefore, I would like to hear your proposal on how we should handle this issue of land on which there are government installations, buildings and infrastructure offering public service to the population,” the Oyam South MP further wrote.

The minister has reportedly written to various government institutions urging them not to comply with BLB’s demands. Incidentally, in May 2015, the attorney general, Freddie Ruhindi, advised government entities to regularise their occupancy of Buganda kingdom’s land in light of the 2013 agreement between the Kabaka and the president.

Some of the entities that received Ruhindi’s letter include NWSC, Uganda Railways, the ministry for Local Government, Inspector General of Police, Prisons and ministry of Defence.

Ruhindi premised his correspondence on a 2015 meeting President Museveni convened at his country home in Rwakitura, Kiruhura district, which was also attended by Katikkiro Mayiga.

A source close to Amongi said the minister was moved to act after receiving seven petitions critical of the Kyapa mu ngalo from a cross-section of Baganda who included the Chwa family.

MENGO SHOCKED

Amongi’s letter came two weeks after the minister instructed the Bamugemereire commission of inquiry to take a keen interest in the Kyapa mu ngalo campaign.
Reliable sources say Amongi’s letter shocked and infuriated Mengo officials.

Amongi declined to be interviewed on the matter when The Observer contacted her on Thursday, but some officials at Mengo accuse her of acting in contravention of the August 1, 2013 agreement signed between Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi on behalf of the kingdom and President Museveni on behalf of the government.

In the agreement, the government undertook to revert to Buganda the former estate of Buganda kingdom comprised in land in urban centres and the kingdom’s former administrative centres, among other key properties.

The agreement also requires both parties not to engage in hostile propaganda against each other.

MENGO RESPONDS

During the May 18 meeting at the ministry of Lands boardroom, BLB officials told Amongi that issuance of leases started way back in May 1919 under the then Official Estates Act, which allowed every holder of the official estate to lease land.

“The practice of obtaining leases was carried on through the 1960s even when the kingdom was abolished in 1966 and official estates vested into Uganda Land Commission [ULC],” BLB stated in its eight-page response.

With regard to compliance with the constitution, BLB said in its statement that the Kyapa mu ngalo campaign guarantees security of tenure.

“The campaign does not in any way adversely affect the security of occupancy; in fact it further enhances it by providing added security in form of a well-surveyed and formally registered piece of land to persons who are merely lawful or bona fide occupants,” BLB stated.

BLB managing director David Kiwalabye Male could not be reached for a comment. He is currently visiting the USA with Mayiga. But in his statement to Amongi, he said BLB respects the law and would abide by the provisions of the Land Act in regard to determining ground rent and the nominal ground rent.

About BLB being a private company, Mengo stated that BLB, as opposed to the 1962 statutory body, is a department in the kingdom.

“In 2015, because of its increasing roles and challenges, it was incorporated into a legal entity solely owned by the Kabaka of Buganda who is a corporation sole under Article 246 of the Constitution,” Mengo stated.

“BLB is an agent of the Kabaka, its role is to manage and administer the kingdom’s estates. It is accountable through its board to the cabinet of Buganda kingdom and ultimately the Kabaka of Buganda who [is] accountable to the people of Buganda through clear cultural and structural systems,” Mengo stated, further telling Amongi that the issue was an internal matter of Buganda kingdom.

We have learnt that the minister has since referred BLB’s letter to the attorney general for interpretation.

1 month 3 days ago

When the parliamentary plenary session opened yesterday, the focus was firmly on Frank Tumwebaze, the minister of ICT and National Guidance, accused of undermining a parliamentary resolution.

Addressing about 176 MPs in attendance on Tuesday, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga asked the parliamentary committee on Rules and Privileges to get a hold of, and listen to recordings of Tumwebaze’s media interview in which he allegedly belittled and disrespected parliament.

Kadaga said the committee, at a later date, should advise the House on the best course of action. This followed a statement from Buhweju MP Francis Mwijukye who accused the minister of telling journalists on Monday that last week’s resolution of parliament urging government to extend the Sim card validation for a year was not binding but advisory.

Mwijukye’s statement followed Kadaga’s communication to parliament in which she claimed the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), telecom companies and individuals have lost lots of money since the un-validated Sim cards were disconnected at midnight on May 19.

“If the executive had listened to the cries of the people and the advice we [Parliament] gave them, we wouldn’t have recorded those losses,” Kadaga said.

Members of the 10th Parliament in a session

Kadaga, calmed by Monday’s directive by President Museveni, extending the Sim cards validation to August 30 had a softer stance on Tumwebaze, the Kibale East MP, who she ordered last Friday to appear before the Rules committee for disciplinary action for contempt of parliament.

But some MPs, notably, Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga) Felix Okot Ogong (Dokolo South), Moses Kasibante (Lubaga North), Joseph Ssewungu (Kalungu West), Geoffrey Macho (Busia Municipality) and the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Winfred Kiiza (Kasese Woman) joined Mwijukye in demanding for a public apology from Tumwebaze.

Seated with FDC secretary general Nathan Nandala-Mafabi (Budadiri West), the Kamwenge district NRM chairman looked tense as MPs accused him of belittling parliament.

“I would take it lightly if an ex-officio [non-MP minister] is the one looking down upon this august institution because I will take it that he is serving the interests of the appointing authority but not one who came here as an MP,” Ssekikubo said.

APOLOGY

In a brief statement, Tumwebaze disowned statements attributed to him on Monday in the media. Tumwebaze also denied that he skips parliamentary sittings without the knowledge of the speaker.

“As regards the announcement that I read out, that announcement was not personal, I was communicating a decision after a meeting convened by the prime minister. I take responsibility for communicating a government position because it is the work I was given. If that is what angered this House, I take responsibility and I apologize,” Tumwebaze said.

He appeared to enjoy the support of majority of the NRM MPs, who clapped and cheered him. But much of the harsh criticism came from the opposition, some NRM and independent MPs.

In the heated debate, Tumwebaze’s apology nearly went unnoticed as the LOP further demanded for a public apology from “the arrogant citizen” in order to restore the dignity and glory of parliament.

Other MPs such as Yorke Alioni Odria (Aringa South) pulled out their phones and told Kadaga that even after the president’s directive, their phones and ipads were still disconnected. It is then that Kadaga referred the matter to parliament’s disciplinary committee.

“Honourable members, I am directing the Rules [and Privileges] committee to listen to the recordings [of Tumwebaze’s interview in the media], look at the prints and advise us on how to proceed,” Kadaga ruled.

1 month 5 days ago

The Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Keith Muhakanizi says creditors have so much money that they are looking for all ways to lend to the government.
Mr Muhakanizi said that on a daily basis, he receives an average of 10 requests from creditors, both local and international, who want to lend to the government.
According to him, if he alone receives that many requests then the number should be more when those received by the president, the prime minister and the finance minister are totalled.
Speaking in Kampala Monday, Mr Muhakanizi said unlike two decades ago when there was mainly the World Bank and the African Development Bank, today the number has grown significantly and they are all keen to lend to the government.

The proposals are from banks, development funds and bilateral partners eager to have their huge portfolios lent out.
Mr Muhakanizi said although borrowing is not necessarily bad, special care should be taken about unsustainable borrowing, adding that borrowing is also good for economic growth and development.
He said the good news for Uganda is that she is no yet debt-stressed and the borrowing is still in sustainable range.
Uganda's debt-to-GDP ratio increased from 35 percent in 2016 to the current 38.6 percent.

Both the International Monetary Fund and the government project that Uganda's debt-to-GDP ratio will increase to 43 percent by 2022 before peaking and then beginning to decline.
This is on account of the heavy investments in oil and gas and infrastructure projects.
The World Bank country manager for Uganda, Christina Malmberg Calvo said Uganda's public debt is still in sustainable levels, emphasising that the Bank's loans are long-term and interest free, attracting only an administrative fee.

Calvo said the Bank's loans are also targeted at things that improve people's lives and bring down poverty.
Concerns have been growing over Uganda's ability to borrow so much money for poorly crafted projects and inability to absorb the monies or use them appropriately.
The World Bank in a report last year reported that not a single project in Uganda has run from conception to operationalisation without hiccups like delays, poor or no feasibility studies, corruption, mismanagement and low absorptive capacity to mention but a few.
Based on that, the World Bank last year suspended further lending to Uganda and only lifted the ban recently.

1 month 5 days ago

ENTEBBE: President Museveni has asked the Rockefeller Foundation to support Uganda in the development of a solar-powered irrigation system affordable to smallholder farmers boost food production capacity.
The President made the call yesterday during meeting with a delegation from Rockefeller led by its president Rajiv J. Shah, at State House, Entebbe.
“Uganda Government is fighting against ticks in livestock. Our target is to have vaccines against tick-borne diseases developed. We shall be pleased if you could support us in this effort. If we can vaccinate, we shall have the capacity to protect the livestock without using acaricides,” Mr Museveni was quoted in a statement issued by his press team.

If supported on the irrigation system, Mr Museveni said, Uganda will increase production of indigenous foods. According to the statement the president stressed the need for Uganda to modernize and commercialize her indigenous technology.
The solar-powered irrigation system was unveiled early this year by scientists at Makerere University’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) working together with a team from University of Purdue, US, who had invented a similar irrigation system mainly for farmers in Africa to adopt.

Its system includes a 100-watts capacity solar panel, a rechargeable battery and solar-powered pump. The connection is done from the panel, which generates energy to the battery and to the solar pump where water pipes are connected to a water source.
The advantage of the system is that a farmer can disconnect the system from the battery and use the solar pump for a period of three hours. This can be done on a cloudy day when there is no sunshine. The same applies to using the battery minus the solar pump.
The President also rallied the New York based philanthropic organisation, with an estimated fortune of Shs14 trillion ($4b), to support government research centres.

The Foundation already has presence in the country and has been supporting several initiatives among others the Uganda Virus Research Institute. Last year the organisation extended a grant of $1m (about Shs3.3b) for innovations from Africa, including Uganda, which can provide a solution to the short shelf life of cassava in order to enhance food security on the continent.
Dr Shah, the Rockefeller’s president, explained that they invest in finding solutions to various challenges particularly those affecting poor people. Already, he said they have been funding the improvement of African indigenous foods such as millet and sorghum.

1 month 5 days ago

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