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The Constitutional court hearing into the consolidated petition challenging the amendment of the Constitution to remove the age limits resumed today morning at Mbale High court in eastern Uganda. 

The petition before a panel of five judges led by deputy chief justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Remmy Kasule, Elizabeth Musoke, Cheborion Barishaki and Kenneth Kakuru. 
 

MP Betty Nambooze takes oath before cross-examination. Photo: @882SanyuFM

 
The petition challenging last year's constitutional amendments by parliament, which among others, lifted the presidential age limits as well as extended the term of office for members of parliament, presidency and local governments by two years. 
 
According to the petitioners, the executive and parliament breached the Constitution by withdrawing funds from the consolidated fund to finance a private member's bill that led to the amendment. The petitioners are also questioning the legality of the amendment process, arguing that parliament's rules of procedure were flouted when strangers believed to be presidential guards invaded the House and violently evicted MPs opposed to the amendments. 
 
Today's court session began with the cross-examination of Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze on the rules of procedure by the respondents led by the deputy attorney general Mwesigwa Rukutana.
 
Nambooze was asked if she's aware of the fact that parliamentary rules state that the speaker of parliament shall at all times be heard in silence, which the respondents to the petition argue was not the case on September 27, 2017 - when MPs opposed to the amendments filibustered forcing the speaker to suspend plenary.
 
Nambooze said MPs are allowed to raise points of procedure during sessions. She seemed to suggest that is what MPs were doing before speaker Rebecca Kadaga suspended 25 MPs and the House for 30 minutes. The MPs were accused by the speaker of violating House rules. When asked whether she vacated the House immediately as directed by the speaker.
 
She said she didn't, "because there was no opportunity because we were under siege" by "strangers."  She was asked by Justice Kasule how the Constitutional court should interpret that "strangers" had entered the House. Nambooze said anybody who's not an MP and has not been officially introduced to the House, is regarded as a stranger. 
 
When asked if what she voted was a reflection of the desires of her constituents, Nambooze said it was because she lives in her constituency and there had public debates about the amendments but that her position would have been more firm, if she had consulted. She said she wasn't able to consult because she'd been hospitalised due to the brutality meted to her by the "strangers" believed to be presidential guards.
 
At this point, Justice Kakuru asked her now that she'd not consulted if she had returned the Shs 29 million consultation money that was given to every MP. Nambooze produced to court her explanatory note she wrote to the clerk of parliament on December 20, 2017 when she reportedly wrote and indicated that she had written a cheque on December 19, 2017 to refund the consultation money.
 
Justice Kakuru put it to Nambooze whether she had evidence that the money was indeed returned back to parliament or it was just a gimmick to fool the public. Nambooze said she wasn't sure if the money had been transferred back to parliament's accounts or not but said she hadn't received any protestations from the clerk. 
 
Nambooze raised her "disappointment" that the hansard had not captured her protestation to the speaker when she questioned the legality of the amendments despite participating in the process herself. She was asked by Justice Kasule if this "disappointment" had been captured in her affidavit but said only learnt that her statements were not captured by the hansard yesterday evening. 
 
During the re-examination by petitioners' lawyer, Erias Lukwago, Nambooze was asked why she, and other MPs did not vacate the House immediately as directed by the speaker. 

"Before the speaker could leave the chambers, soldiers had entered the house. In particular, I saw them grab Ssemuju Nganda and Muwanga Kivumbi yet these two had not been part of the [suspended] 25 [MPs]. Women, I believe to be presidential guards came towards me and I fell down..." she said. 

To this, Justice Owiny-Dollo said the "compliant" MPs "weren’t given the opportunity to comply."

Also in the witness stand today is permanent secretary ministry of Finance and secretary to the treasury (PSST) Keith Muhakanizi to answer questions on the financial implications of the amendments.

3 days 14 hours ago

The Constitutional court hearing into the consolidated petition challenging the amendment of the Constitution to remove the age limits resumed today morning at Mbale High court in eastern Uganda. 

The petition before a panel of five judges led by deputy chief justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Remmy Kasule, Elizabeth Musoke, Cheborion Barishaki and Kenneth Kakuru. 
 

MP Betty Nambooze takes oath before cross-examination. Photo: @882SanyuFM

 
The petition challenging last year's constitutional amendments by parliament, which among others, lifted the presidential age limits as well as extended the term of office for members of parliament, presidency and local governments by two years. 
 
According to the petitioners, the executive and parliament breached the Constitution by withdrawing funds from the consolidated fund to finance a private member's bill that led to the amendment. The petitioners are also questioning the legality of the amendment process, arguing that parliament's rules of procedure were flouted when strangers believed to be presidential guards invaded the House and violently evicted MPs opposed to the amendments. 
 
Today's court session began with the cross-examination of Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze on the rules of procedure by the respondents led by the deputy attorney general Mwesigwa Rukutana.
 
Nambooze was asked if she's aware of the fact that parliamentary rules state that the speaker of parliament shall at all times be heard in silence, which the respondents to the petition argue was not the case on September 27, 2017 - when MPs opposed to the amendments filibustered forcing the speaker to suspend plenary.
 
Nambooze said MPs are allowed to raise points of procedure during sessions. She seemed to suggest that is what MPs were doing before speaker Rebecca Kadaga suspended 25 MPs and the House for 30 minutes. The MPs were accused by the speaker of violating House rules. When asked whether she vacated the House immediately as directed by the speaker.
 
She said she didn't, "because there was no opportunity because we were under siege" by "strangers."  She was asked by Justice Kasule how the Constitutional court should interpret that "strangers" had entered the House. Nambooze said anybody who's not an MP and has not been officially introduced to the House, is regarded as a stranger. 
 
When asked if what she voted was a reflection of the desires of her constituents, Nambooze said it was because she lives in her constituency and there had public debates about the amendments but that her position would have been more firm, if she had consulted. She said she wasn't able to consult because she'd been hospitalised due to the brutality meted to her by the "strangers" believed to be presidential guards.
 
At this point, Justice Kakuru asked her now that she'd not consulted if she had returned the Shs 29 million consultation money that was given to every MP. Nambooze produced to court her explanatory note she wrote to the clerk of parliament on December 20, 2017 when she reportedly wrote and indicated that she had written a cheque on December 19, 2017 to refund the consultation money.
 
Justice Kakuru put it to Nambooze whether she had evidence that the money was indeed returned back to parliament or it was just a gimmick to fool the public. Nambooze said she wasn't sure if the money had been transferred back to parliament's accounts or not but said she hadn't received any protestations from the clerk. 
 
Nambooze raised her "disappointment" that the hansard had not captured her protestation to the speaker when she questioned the legality of the amendments despite participating in the process herself. She was asked by Justice Kasule if this "disappointment" had been captured in her affidavit but said only learnt that her statements were not captured by the hansard yesterday evening. 
 
During the re-examination by petitioners' lawyer, Erias Lukwago, Nambooze was asked why she, and other MPs did not vacate the House immediately as directed by the speaker. 

"Before the speaker could leave the chambers, soldiers had entered the house. In particular, I saw them grab Ssemuju Nganda and Muwanga Kivumbi yet these two had not been part of the [suspended] 25 [MPs]. Women, I believe to be presidential guards came towards me and I fell down..." she said. 

To this, Justice Owiny-Dollo said the "compliant" MPs "weren’t given the opportunity to comply."

Also in the witness stand today is permanent secretary ministry of Finance and secretary to the treasury (PSST) Keith Muhakanizi to answer questions on the financial implications of the amendments.

3 days 14 hours ago
Police commanders across the country are uncertain on how to enforce a directive to confiscate camouflage attire similar to that of the army and police from the public.
 
Last Friday, Asuman Mugenyi, police director of operations directed all district and district police commanders to confiscate the camouflage attire. He also directed the district security committees across the country to stop shops selling the camouflage immediately.
 
The district security committees, which comprises of the district internal security officer (DISO), district police commander (DPC), resident district commissioner (RDC), district chairperson and the chief accounting officer are expected to decide how to go about the directive.   

URN talked to about 16 of the 157 DPCs across the country on the implementation of the directive. However, none of them had a clue on how to implement the directive. The DPCs told URN on condition of anonymity that they were confused on how to implement the order especially with the business community.

"How do I go and stop someone from selling a cloth when there is no law that backs me," asked a DPC in Kampala. The UPDF act only criminalizes dressing in clothes that are of close likeliness to UPDF uniforms.

Patrick Onyango, the deputy police spokesperson, said he was only aware how they would confiscate the clothes from the civilians wearing them but not how to handle the business people.

"Talk to the DPC they are the ones who will be implementing the orders. They must be in the know on what to do," Onyango said. The DPCs couldn't speak on record and therefore referred URN to the Kampala metropolitan police commander (KMP) or spokesperson.

The KMP spokesperson, Luke Owoyesigyire asked for time to consult with his bosses. He however told URN four days later that he was still trying to get in touch with the director of operations. "I still need to consult with the director operation," Owoyesigyire said. 

In downtown Kampala, one can barely see the camouflage clothes on display since the order to confiscate them was issued. Most of the traders interviewed by URN, said they only bring in one or two clothes. 

Faridah Nakato, a cloth dealer who used to sell camouflage trousers, short and vests, says they will have to stop selling them if the worst comes to worst. "What can we do? We will have to stop selling them. For those who still have some in stock, it's sad, "Nakato said.

3 days 14 hours ago

The signing of the project framework agreement between government and the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC) for the $4 billion oil refinery was a great relief to the Energy Ministry as it races towards the country's first oil by 2020.
 
Sources at the ministry of Energy and Mineral Development indicate that it took a lot of behind the scenes negotiations that would at times involve President Yoweri Museveni on side, and the United States government officials through its embassy in Kampala. 

The oil refinery deal was signed last week

The US embassy was, according to sources, eager to see the conclusion of the deal in order to fight off Chinese firms still interested the multi-billion dollar deal in case the negotiations with AGRC failed. 
 
Over 40 companies had expressed interest in the deal which was initially estimated to cost $3 billion but now projected to cost up to $4 billion. The negotiations between the government represented by the ministry of Energy, National Oil Company and AGRC commenced in August 2017 when the parties agreed on the core project terms.
 
The selection process started in January 2017. At the time, it was anticipated that Chinese firm Guangzhou DongSong Energy Group which had scored highly during the second search would take the deal. URN did not independently establish whether Guangzhou DongSong Energy Group was still in Uganda from the time the Group was dropped from the deal.  
 
The then ministry of Energy permanent secretary, Dr Stephen Isabalija, however, announced that the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC) made up of General Electric (GE) Oil and Gas, YAATRA Ventures LLC, Intracontinental Asset Holdings Ltd (IA) and Saipem SpA had clinched it.
 
The project framework agreement with AGRC should have been signed within months after they had agreed on the core terms.  A source indicated that Chinese firms have quietly tried to find their way back into the deal backed by some government officials that have preferred working with China.
 
Uganda's oil and gas sector is one of the sectors promoted by the US Commercial Service of the Department of Commerce. The 2017 US commercial country guide on Uganda pointed the $10 billion infrastructure required to develop Uganda's oil reserves as one the opportunities for the American in Uganda.
 
This explains why the signing of the agreement did not only excite ministry of Energy officials but the US Embassy as well.
 
US ambassador Deborah R. Malac called a select number of journalists to the embassy. Key on the on the topics was the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC) deal.
 
She says her embassy was quite pleased with the signing of the agreement between the government of Uganda and the Albertine Graben Consortium which she said was put together by a US-led company.
 
"In particular, the the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium presents the opportunity for project financing, financed by the private sector which doesn’t contribute to Uganda’s debt burden. As many of you know, we’re all watching with some concern, the government borrowing that is going on. So this is one more, it showcases a model and an opportunity to do things differently, still address the infrastructure needs and other needs in the economy," sais Malac.
 
Malac said the AGRC which includes General Electric, one of the largest global companies with over one hundred years of existence made the American firm competitive.
 
The almost year-long negotiations have centred on financing arrangements, risk mitigation measures among others. The consortium now has the rights and licenses to develop and manage the refinery as lead investor in a joint venture partnership with the Ugandan government.
 
One of the sticky issues under the back and forth related to regulations on the consortium itself and other related laws. Under the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Act, joint ventures may be licensed to participate in a range of petroleum-related business undertakings provided there is, within such a joint venture, participation by the Ugandan government or a company that is at least 48 per cent Ugandan-owned.
 
Ambassador Malac revealed that agreeing on the regulations was not as easy as envisaged at the time when they agreed on the core project terms.

"Some of the concepts that were brought in terms of this project financing - private sector debt and private capital equity markets is a new model in many ways for Uganda. So, there is not much expertise in the ministry of Finance, in the ministry of Energy about how you handle it. This is not the same as government debt - borrowing from China Exxim [bank] or borrowing from the World Bank, hiring a contractor who is gonna go out and do your project. It is very different concept, a very different legal framework." she added. 

She revealed that it had to take an education process to help the government team to understand how it worked. That she said could have partly delayed it. 

"...the reality is, it is much faster than it has happened in some other places. Each business proposal, each project that comes forward when you’re doing a private sector negotiation is different. Some can take a long time…we say 15 months but it has been just a little bit under that. But you know, there was time when nothing was happening when both sides wanted to go and do something else and then had to come back."

Joint ventures have become popular especially among the US refinery companies because of their competitive edge. The companies there look to joint ventures, alliances, and other combinations to try to improve performance.

It is anticipated that the joint venture arrangement will help the companies under the consortium and the government financing mobilisation for the project. Malac alluded to the fact that funding into the consortium will not be borrowed from other governments or loan money that will have to be paid back.
 
The private sector companies under the joint venture are expected to go to the capital markets, find investors and share the risk of building and operating the refinery.
 
More details about the deal between the governments with the consortium remain guarded with the Energy ministry, National Oil Company lawyers as well as the US embassy reluctant to disclose the details.
 
Ambassador Malac said the non-disclosure is a globally established practice.  

"This [non-disclosure] is very common when private companies are negotiating because you don’t want your competitor to steal your information, to steal your intellectual property, to take what you're trying to do and propose. It is not an effort to hide anything in the sense that you’re doing something bad, the point is, you have done all your research about the market, you have done all your research about what you want to build about, about your proposal, about what needs to be done. And you understand how it will work and that is your product that you bring to the government and say this what we can do and how we can do it together. But I can assure you that, there was nothing untold on the part of our companies that were involved in these negotiations." Malac added. 
 
Ugandan National Company, executive director, Josephine Wapakabulo could not be reached for more details regarding the sharing arrangements. Crude oil reserves in Uganda are estimated at about 6,500 million barrels. The refinery to be based in Hoima is expected to process between 50,000 to 60,000 barrels per day.

3 days 14 hours ago

The government has not provided funding for a referendum on the extension of the presidential term of office from the current five to seven years.

At least Shs 263 billion is required by the Electoral Commission to conduct the referendum in the financial year 2018/2019. The need for a referendum arose out of constitutional amendments that were approved by parliament in December 2017. 

EC chairperson Simon Byabakama

They included the extension of the term of office for all elective positions from five to seven years and lifting the cap on the presidential age. Although the decision was finalised for legislators and local government leaders, the extension of the presidential term, requires approval from the rest of the population. President Yoweri Museveni assented to the Act days after it had been passed by the 10th parliament.

But, despite the ongoing Constitutional court battle in Mbale challenging the amendments, the Electoral Commission is seeking an allocation of Shs 263.4 billion for a possible referendum.

EC chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama told the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee of parliament that the money is not catered for in the next financial year's budget. Byabakama had appeared to present the commission's budget for the coming financial year 2018/2019.
 
According to the Electoral Commission, the required money will enable them fund activities such as printing ballot papers and sensitizing voters among other electoral activities.

A referendum is provided for under Article 225(1) of the Constitution, which directs that parliament shall by law make provisions for the right of citizens to demand the holding by the Electoral Commission of a referendum, whether national or in any particular part of Uganda, on any issue.

Meanwhile, besides the funds sought to prepare for the referendum, the Electoral Commission also seeks another Shs 13.39 billion to conduct general election activities ahead of the next general elections.

"It was earlier approved that the Commission conducts its general election activities in a phased manner in 3 financial years. The first phases of demarcation of electoral areas and re-organization of polling stations should start in the financial year 2018/2019. This will not be achieved without the provision of funds." said Byabakama.

3 days 14 hours ago
Uganda is engrossed in a battle with authorities in Ottawa, Canada over a plan to demolish a building which once hosted the Ugandan high commission. 

The two-storey red brick building on 231 Cobourg street was constructed in the 1940s as an apartment building, and became Uganda's high commission in 1985. Owned by the Ugandan government, the building was used as Uganda's high commission to Canada until 2014 when it was declared unsafe. 

The Uganda high commission building 
 
It has been sitting in an increasingly dilapidated state ever since, with serious foundation problems and mould resulting from water damage. Ugandan high commissioner to Ottawa Joy Acheng is quoted by Canadian based CBC news saying that the building has cracks from the foundation up to the roof.

As a result, the Ugandan government announced that it wanted to demolish the building and build a new high commission in its place. However, the plan suffered a setback on Thursday when Ottawa's Built Heritage sub-committee ignored the advice of both the city's own professional heritage planners and a third-party engineering firm, who agreed the building is in such bad shape and it isn't worth repairing.

The Built Heritage sub-committee, established under the Ontario Heritage Act, is a sub-committee of Planning Committee and provides advice to the City Council on built heritage issues. It is comprised of four members of council and three members of the public.

 

In a meeting held on Thursday, only two members of the committee voted in favour of demolition. The rest said they were not convinced demolition was the only option. They argued that razing the structure was detrimental to the history of Ottawa. Ward councilor Mathieu Fleury, one of the municipal councillors who opposed the demolition of the building said the heritage value of the building must prevail.

"We recognize that maintaining certain properties, especially those that are heritage, can be very expensive," he admitted. "It's not an excuse to abandon them and not do the necessary work.

The building was once home to Lester B. Pearson, the former prime minister of Canada who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for organizing the United Nations Emergency Force to resolve the Suez Canal crisis. But the decision of the subcommittee has triggered outrage from the Ugandan envoy in Ottawa.

"We are so disappointed by the decision made by the committee, and that ... does not enhance the good bilateral relationship between Uganda and Canada," ambassador Joy Acheng is quoted saying in an interview with CBC.

She added that the committee members were very unfair not to consider the technical report that came out of a review conducted by an independent engineer hired by the Ottawa city to have another look at the building.

The review from John G. Cooke and Associates Limited published online found the damage to the building was "significant" and related primarily to settlement associated with moisture depletion of the underlying clay soils. The engineer came to the same conclusion as the building's owner: it should be torn down. The engineer's report pegged the cost of repairing the building at $1 million.

Acheng dismissed allegations that the Ugandan government had willingly allowed the building to fall into disrepair but blamed the crumbling foundation on the unique soil conditions in Sandy Hill. Judah Mulalu, the architect hired to design Uganda's new high commission also disagreed with the decision to save the structure.

"It's past the threshold of reason to try to rehabilitate the building," he said. "There has to be some kind of threshold of reason."

The structure, while not individually designated as a heritage site, is officially designated under a section of the Ontario Heritage Act as part of the Wilbrod/Laurier Heritage Conservation District. If the building is saved it will become part of a "street museum" dedicated to the lives of former prime ministers.

A number of countries have previously been involved in similar battles over the years. In 2017, Belgian officials opposed a plan by the American embassy to demolish a disused office block in the leafy Brussels suburb of Watermael-Boitsfort and build a new embassy there from scratch.

The embassy had wanted to demolish the building because it is not fit for use. It reportedly had a poor energy rating, an underground car park that presents a security risk, and that the office space measuring 65,000m², was three times too large for the embassy's 380 members of staff.

But officials at Watermael-Boitsfort town hall and the Brussels region applied for the building and its gardens to become listed property. They said any renovations to the site must maintain the building's appearance and respect its heritage.

5 days 15 hours ago
It will take government some 74 years to clear outstanding court awards arising from civil cases currently standing at a tune of Shs 676 billion. 
 
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Gen Kahinda Otafiire told legislators on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee that his ministry doesn't have a clear financial strategy in how the outstanding arrears will be cleared. Otafiire told the MPs that the ministry needs at least Shs 9 billion every financial year to clear the the bill.
President Museveni (R) with Kahinda Otafiire the minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs 
Now, the legislators have asked government to borrow money and pay off the awards that has accumulated over the last 10 years and this arises mainly from civil cases ruled in favour of people or entities and compensations awarded.

Legal Affairs committee chairperson also West Budama South MP Jacob Oboth Oboth, said the only viable option for government now, is to seek a loan and clear the huge figure which is attracting costly interests for government. 

"Providing only Shs 9.35 billion per financial year, let us take it as a yardstick, is government prepared to pay the total arrears assuming no interest arises again from the Shs 657 billion? Is government prepared to pay in 74 years because if every financial year you’re paying Shs 9 billion, then it will take you 74 years to clear the arrears. Why can’t government borrow to pay because court awards are already debt. We’re borrowing here to do infrastructure?", said Oboth Oboth. 

Otafiire pleaded with parliament to devise means of helping government to punish errant government officers whose indiscipline and character has caused government financial loss.

"The primary remedy to these court awards is ensuring that government doesn’t cause these court awards and that can be best done by governments and departments and agencies by ensuring that their officials don’t transgress on the rights of citizens and therefore cause court awards." said Otafiire. 

 
"For instance you take a department like Lands, a registrar issues three titles on the same land and those who have received the three titles when they go to court… then you find court awards and etc and etc. And when these people are called to come and defend themselves or provide information to the directorate of civil litigation for proper management of the case, they are missing. And those who are missing in action, nothing is done. So honourable members, I think it is time parliament put its foot down and punish these MDAs and individuals. Individuals can make mistakes in the course of their work and but their instances when the mistakes are deliberate."

Otafiire further told the committee that the ministry's main remedy to court awards accumulation is to have more state attorneys, judges, judicial officers and prosecutors whose inadequate number has been contributing to government loss of cases hence court awards.
 

The committee members asked the ministry to provide a list of court awards that originate from all government agencies. Solomon Muyita, the judiciary spokesperson, says in some cases, government breaches terms of contract which leads to the awards.

 
He says awards from Uganda Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) for victims of human rights violations are also what contributes to the huge amounts.

"When court awards someone, it takes long because government has to pay this money in phases, and so you find someone going five to ten years without getting compensated. And the money government releases to the ministry is never enough," says Muyita.

5 days 15 hours ago
The inspector general of police (IGP) Okoth Ochola has dropped commissioner of police Frank Mwesigwa as commander Kampala Metropolitan Police (KMP) and appointed him to head Tourism Police in a major reshuffle involving 96 senior officers.

Mwesigwa, who was an acting assistant inspector general of police (AIGP) is replaced by Moses Kafeero who has been the head of the Police Senior Command and Staff College, Bwebajja.

 
Frank Mwesigwa Mwesigwa, one of the best trained counter terrorism officers in country, took over as KMP commandant in July 2016 and has been at the centre of managing demonstrations in the city.

He joined the force in 2007 and was deployed in the Counter Terrorism department where he worked for more than seven years until he was appointed KMP commander. 

 
Kafeero is now replaced by Lawrence Niwabiine, who is most remembered for his role as the KMP traffic commander before he was sidelined by the former IGP Kale Kayihura in 2016 under unclear circumstances. 

At the time Niwabiine was dropped, former prime minister Amama Mbabazi was contesting for the presidency against President Yoweri Museveni. Niwabiine is married in the Mbabazi family something that many thought at the time could have influenced Kayihura's decision.

The police spokesperson Emilian Kayima has confirmed the transfers saying the appointments are normal. 

"The language of dropping is not appropriate. CP Mwesigwa has been assigned new roles. He will now head the Tourism police, a key police department and is replaced by CP Moses Kafeero Kabugo," Kayima said. 

The transfer comes at a time Mwesigwa is implicated for his role in the policing of demonstrations during the controversial amendment of the Constitution by MPs last year, in which they lifted the presidential age limits and also extended their term of office by an extra two years. The amendments are currently under Constitutional court review at the Mbale High court. 

 
In the same massive reshuffle, Ochola transferred and appointed 96 senior police officers. The reshuffle which affects all directorates and departments of police will now see senior commissioner of police (SCP) Geoffrey Khombe become the new director of Counter Terrorism to replace John Ndugutse who was recently appointed the police attache to Uganda's embassy in Kenya.

Khombe will be deputised by William Omoding who has been the commandant Tourism Police. Omoding has been replaced by Frank Mwesigwa, the former commandant Kampala Metropolitan Police.

SCP Charles Agaba has been appointed the deputy director Crime Intelligence, while former commandant professional Standards Unit Fortune Habyara is transferred to the directorate of Crime Intelligence.

Former police spokesperson Fred Enanga has been moved from the Political Commissariat and appointed the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) in-charge Administration and Training, while Polly Namaye is appointed the acting commissioner in-charge information and publications.

Edwin Gumisiriza who has been the in-charge Administration and Training CID is now appointed the deputy director Peace and Support Operations to replace Herman Owomugisha who is now the new commandant Very Important Person Police (VIPPU).

 
Owomugisha is to be deputised by Moses Orals who had been in the Directorate of Welfare and Production.

Ashram Chemonges has been dropped as Regional Police Commander Kigezi region and replaced by Richard Elega who has been the head of Evade Police Training school.

5 days 15 hours ago

Millions of South Africans said an emotional goodbye to anti-apartheid icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on Saturday during her official funeral, with supporters fiercely defending her complex legacy.

Thousands of mourners packed a 40,000-seat stadium to celebrate the powerful figure who will be buried as a national hero, after lively debate over how she should be remembered after her death on April 2 at age 81.

South Africans at Winnie Mandela funeral. Photo: thesouthafrican.com

Often called the "Mother of the Nation" and "Mama Winnie," Madikizela-Mandela fought to keep South Africa's anti-apartheid struggle in the international spotlight while her husband, Nelson Mandela, was imprisoned.

 

"Long before it was fashionable to call for Nelson Mandela's release from Robben Island, it was my mother who kept his memory alive," elder daughter Zenani Mandela-Dlamini said, as the audience erupted in cheers.

"As a family we have watched in awe as young women stood up and took a stand of deep solidarity with my mother. I know that she would be very proud of each of you, and grateful for your acts of personal courage: for joining hands in the #IAmWinnie movement, wearing your doeks and bravely mounting a narrative that counters the one that had become, to our profound dismay, my mother’s public story over the last twenty-five years of her life. Like her, you showed that we can be beautiful, powerful and revolutionary; even as we challenge the lies that have been peddled for so long." she said. 

Zenani also took a swipe at the media for what she called a smear campaign against her mother. 

"As the world, and particularly the media, which is so directly complicit in the smear campaign against my mother – took notice of your acts of resistance, so too did this narrative begin to change. The world saw that a young generation, unafraid of the power of the establishment, was ready to challenge its lies, lies that had become part of my mother’s life." she said. 

Adding: "And this was also when we saw so many who had sat on the truth come out one by one, to say that they had known all along that these things that had been said about my mother were not true. And as each of them disavowed these lies, I had to ask myself: ‘Why had they sat on the truth and waited till my mother’s death to tell it?’

It is so disappointing to see how they withheld their words during my mother’s lifetime, knowing very well what they would have meant to her. Only they know why they chose to share the truth with the world after she departed. I think their actions are actions of extreme cruelty, because they robbed my mother of her rightful legacy during her lifetime. It is little comfort to us that they have come out now."

Many South Africans have stood up for Madikizela-Mandela's memory against critics who have characterized her as a problematic figure who was implicated in political violence after she returned from years of banishment in a rural town.

Condolences have poured in from around the world in remembrance of one of the 20th century's most prominent political activists.

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, who attended the funeral, said Friday that Madikizela-Mandela was responsible for making the anti-apartheid movement "a global struggle."

"She never stopped fighting. She never stopped serving," he told reporters. "She never left the belly of the beast."

Many memorializing Madikizela-Mandela have recognized her as a political force in her own right.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called her an "international symbol of resistance" whose extraordinary life had an impact on millions of people around the world.

"In apartheid South Africa, the combination of patriarchy and racism together meant that black women confronted enormous obstacles from the cradle to the grave - making her own achievements all the more exceptional," he said Friday at a memorial in New York, not mentioning Nelson Mandela at all.

The young Madikizela-Mandela grew up in what is now Eastern Cape province and came to Johannesburg as the city's first black female social worker. Not long after, she met African National Congress activist Mandela and the couple married in 1958, forming one of the most storied unions of the century.

After Mandela was imprisoned, Madikizela-Mandela embraced her own leadership in the freedom struggle with steely determination and at great personal sacrifice.

For years, she was routinely harassed by apartheid-state security forces, imprisoned and tortured. In 1977, she was banished to a remote town.

It took a toll. When Madikizela-Mandela returned from exile she became involved with a group of young men known as the Mandela United Football Club, who were widely blamed for violence in Soweto.

They were accused of the disappearances and killings of at least 18 boys and young men and the group's leader was convicted of killing a 14-year-old boy, nicknamed "Stompie," who was accused of being a police informer.

In 1991, a court found Madikizela-Mandela guilty of the boy's kidnapping and assault and sentenced her to six years in jail. She appealed and was found guilty of being an accessory, and the sentence was reduced to a fine and a suspended prison term. Madikizela-Mandela denied any knowledge of any killings.

Mandela divorced her in 1996, claiming infidelity and saying that after his release from prison, his wife made him "the loneliest man."

Though she fought fiercely for democracy, Madikizela-Mandela floundered in a political career after the first free elections in 1994. Mandela fired her as one of his deputy ministers and her stints as a lawmaker, a post she held until her death, were lackluster.

Supporters in the ANC have loudly defended her.

"She gave everything she had," the party's deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte has said. "For those of you whose hearts are unforgiving, sit down and shut up. This is our hero. This is our heroine."

 

5 days 15 hours ago

In part I of this series published last Wednesday, we examined how the Reform Agenda (RA) pressure group manoeuvred to ensure that Dr Warren Kizza Besigye Kifefe would lead, and control the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) right from the outset. SULAIMAN KAKAIRE continues the examination...

By the time Besigye became FDC party president, the important offices were secretary general and the secretaries for treasury, legal, mobilisation, security, publicity and information, women and youth.

Kizza Besigye addressing his supporters in Kasese 

Some of these positions were largely occupied by what one would refer to as Besigyeists. They included Jack Sabiti (treasurer), Alice Alaso (secretary general), and Ingrid Turinawe (women).

Alaso has since been replaced and no longer sees Besigye as someone truly committed to the democratic principles, which their party championed. However, former information secretary, Wafula Oguttu (also since replaced) maintains that the Besigye he knew was always a democrat.

“I have seen him; he used to come to Najjanankumbi, with his ideas. We would combat them and we tell him reasons as to why and he says ‘okay, comrades, let’s move on’,” Oguttu told The Observer.

The difference in opinion between these party elders underlines just what has become of FDC today. The experience of former Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LoP), Prof Morris Ogenga Latigo, will shed some light on how Besigye operated as party president, and why he has become such a divisive figure in FDC.

Latigo remembers how he was targeted during his bid for and tenure as LOP. He became a pariah just because he had collected signatures in support of Maj Gen Gregory Mugisha Muntu’s bid to stand in the 2006 elections.

Besigye was stuck in exile at the time and there was no guarantee he would be back in time. But still, Latigo came under fire for daring to back anyone but their man.

“We walked a very tight rope in that perspective until the elections were over; we lost the presidential elections. Some of us got elected to parliament. After the elections, you could begin to see that while we were a new party, there were some units within FDC; sentiments like ‘Reform Agenda is our thing and you are an outsider. But we said no, some of you guys came and joined us in the opposition,” Latigo said.

“Everybody wanted to be leader of opposition but I argued strongly and said that where the president is not in parliament, the people who occupy the highest party position should become the leader,” said Latigo.

He would eventually move a motion for a resolution to this effect, which was overwhelmingly supported by FDC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) in 2006.

“This defined the road towards the creation of the two power centres,” Latigo remembers.

By accepting the rule that the most senior person in the party becomes leader of opposition, they not only disqualified people like Kasilo MP Elijah Okupa, who was campaigning for the post, but it automatically meant that the choice was down to either Latigo or Sam Njuba -- both deputy presidents then.

The RA wing allied with Buganda interests within FDC and presented Njuba (now dead) as their candidate. At the opposite end, the Parliamentary Advocacy Forum (PAFO) which was the other major founding group of FDC, supported Latigo.

“That election exposed internal weaknesses… There was no single day we sat in private, me and Dr Besigye, to discuss the unfolding scenarios,” remembers Latigo.

“For a while, I kept off the campaign, thinking probably Dr Besigye would call me and say ‘Latigo, you are with Njuba now what do you people think?’

“Besigye was close to Njuba because they were from Reform Agenda. But when the period of campaign came, I wrote a small brief about myself; what I have been doing for the party and about my vision as a leader of opposition. If you ask people like Odonga Otto, they were furious with me; they said ‘Latigo, what is the problem with you, these guys are campaigning and you are not’. I said, let them campaign, people know me and if some people can do this work better, let it be,” he said.

Kizza Besigye campaigns before FDC delegates

Eventually, Latigo won but the campaign experience, particularly Besigye’s disposition, left a sour taste.

“I don’t remember ever being congratulated by Dr Besigye,” he said.

Of that contest, Besigye said when interviewed that: “The late Hon Sam Njuba (RIP) was our leader in Reform Agenda when Hon Ogenga Latigo was still in DP. Hon Njuba had been our leader in UPM and during the NRA/NRM struggle, to which he personally recruited me.

He expected that I would campaign and vote for him to become our first LOP. I neither campaigned nor voted for him! He, and those who voted for him, were very disappointed with me on this account because he attributed his loss to that. It’s possible that Hon Latigo too thought that I couldn’t have favoured him for the post.”

Proscovia Salaamu Musumba, who was the other deputy president, thinks the former LoP is reading too much into what happened.

“Those are petty things. He did not make himself leader of opposition, we made him. He was not the only one available. It was a political calculation. He was assigned like anyone else. We made a political choice and it was communicated to him,” Musumba said.

However, Latigo says this explanation by Besigye and Musumba does not truly reflect the reality of the LoP race those many years ago. It was so polarising a contest that the Buganda caucus was so consumed by a guilty conscience, Latigo remembers. He says most of its members boycotted the party headquarters for quite some time.

Through his eyes, Latigo saw a pattern emerge – one where somebody deliberately wanted to position particular people in certain offices.

“You could see that there was something beyond the meetings we had with Dr Besigye; the decisions we took in the party. Though sometimes he would opt to consult on some things... Although in certain cases I stood my ground. For example, in the case of Hon Hassan Kaps Fungaroo, they wanted him to be in the cabinet but I said that he is too young; he doesn’t have the competencies, we have senior people whom we cannot overlook,” Latigo remembers.

CENTRES OF POWER

This pattern eventually established itself in the factions that evolved. Latigo says he was somehow made to pay for defeating Njuba.

This first came out when the leader of opposition was required to respond to President Museveni’s State-of-the-Nation address. Latigo said the party headquarters tried to direct the response but he refused.

“I accepted to be leader of opposition because I know am competent to lead; otherwise, I would not even have offered myself. So, nobody is going to write anything for me. I know party policies, I am the one who chaired the meeting, I know the constitution of the party, I know everything including the interests of the party. But beyond that, I am a policy expert not many of you can compete with.”

Even then the party leadership continued to press.

“I told them, look; the parliamentary caucus is not an organ of the party. So the party cannot make a demand for us to account unless we provide for the parliamentary caucus in the constitution…NEC would ask for the accountability and they even made Hon. Alice Alaso, the secretary general then, write. I wrote back to her and I said, no, we are not under the supervision of the party, but we are a body of the party,” Latigo.

In retrospect, Latigo says;

“They [Alaso and Besigye] only wanted to control me which was not fair. And so I said, we will give a report. So, every two weeks we would write a summary report and I made specific proposals on how to amend the party constitution to provide for the parliamentary caucus. Because I said that that caucus is an opposition caucus beyond FDC and, therefore, for FDC to take a claim and demand that we report, as a mandatory thing, it is not right,” he said.

In due course, Latigo remembers encountering difficulties during briefing meetings.

“KB could at times be dismissive,” he said. “I remember when they asked me in writing, to report on the Juba peace process and I wrote back to them, saying I am providing a report, but not I am not reporting [to you] because the Juba peace process is a process outside the party. We are there by virtue of being leaders from the conflict area. For the party to demand that I report, is not right.”

Besigye brushed off Latigo’s letter, replying that the LoP was dabbling in semantics.

“But, I said, no it’s not semantics... I wrote my report, I read it to them. I told them let the party keep out of this process... Let it fail on account of us who are participating…they never took it kindly. But, I held my ground. I was actually attacked over that, in particular by the Reform group.”

Slowly, the groundswell of opinion against Latigo spread out from FDC headquarters in Najjanankumbi into the parliamentary caucus.

“I remember one time when I had to react to the Reagan [Okumu] and Nandala [Mafabi]. We would be in a meeting and then they start their own discussions. I remember one day, when they started discussing, I kept quiet. And when I kept quiet, they also kept quiet, I said no, you finish your discussions then we can proceed. They got the message,” Latigo said as he referred to some records.

But Besigye does not remember having a problematic relationship with Latigo.

“I didn’t have any difficulty working with Hon Latigo at all, save for MPs generally ignoring party work.”

Musumba also questions the MPs’ commitment during Latigo’s time. Revealing how “I was always assigned to act in Doctor’s capacity but my colleagues were always finding excuses…”

“Parliament never gave value for their work,” she said.

Musumba and Oguttu think the problem has its roots elsewhere, suggesting that only those who were nursing bigger ambitions found Besigye to be difficult.

“So, those of us who are not ambitious to be president of Uganda maybe we do not see a problem with him. If I was ambitious to be the president of Uganda and I’m in FDC, the biggest problem would be Besigye, I would get rid of him,” he said.

Said Musumba: “Because they had ambition of replacing him, they did not work to make him succeed”.

YOUTH STRUCTURE

Other goings-on inside FDC’s youth organ will, however, discount the Oguttu/Musumba theory. There were two important offices for youth in FDC. One was the secretary for youth headed by Aruu MP, Samuel Odonga Otto, and the other was the national chairperson for youth, at one time or the other held by Samuel Makoha.

Things were fine until new office bearers arrived. When Makoha went into exile in the Netherlands, Frank Kiherere, a former suspect of the shadowy so-called ‘People’s Redemption Army’ rebel group, was selected as a stand-in while elections were organised in January 2009.

Kiherere and Gerald Karuhanga were the candidates. Elections for the women’s league had also been simultaneously organised and Ingrid Turinawe, the current secretary for mobilisation, was to tussle it out with current Lubaga division chairperson, Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo.   

Before voting day, Muntu stepped in, warning that FDC was running the risk of becoming westerner-dominated. Kiherere was advised to step down in favour of current Ayivu MP, Benard Atiku, while Karuhanga pulled out in favour of Abed Nasser Mudiobole, the current secretary for legal affairs.

Mudiobole won but not many people were happy about that.

“I was not very popular within the structures. I remember even people like Hon. Alaso saying, ‘who is this person? He could be a mole or intelligence’. Well, it was all because of ignorance or perhaps the fact that their camp lost. I was a very active member at the formation of the party during my university days,” he said. 

Having been elected, Mudiobole was now part of the party’s management committee, but he says he was not embraced by Besigye.

“I remember that I was the national youth chairperson but I never got instructions from the party president. Instead, I would see other people doing my work,” Mudiobole said.

Mudiobole says this forced him into the arms of Muntu, who was then secretary for mobilisation. After the 2009 delegates’ conference during which Mudiobole was one of 52 people who sided with Muntu over Besigye, his troubles mounted.

“I had dealt with Muntu and I had found him a clear and straightforward person,” said Mudiobole, remembering how that choice has continued to haunt him.

“He [Besigye] would never give instructions to me but instead instruct Sam Mugumya, who was not in the national structure. I saw that was not proper. In fact, the closest he would come to the structure was when he would give some work to my then vice chairperson, Francis Mwijukye, the current MP for Buhweju,” Mudiobole said.

So, Mudiobole came to understand how Besigye prefers to work “with those who agree with or serve him.” 

Muntu declined to be interviewed at any length for this article, observing that: “When you are in an institution with people, you always have points of agreement and disagreement. It is normal and for my case everything is solved internally. I can’t discuss that with you.”

The record will show that although Besigye eventually handed over to Muntu, having prematurely ended his FDC presidency in 2012, the colonel seemed determined to undermine his successor at every turn.

In effect, Besigye created a parallel party headquarters at his Katonga Road offices in Kampala, acting and operating as if he was still FDC leader. This left Muntu looking like a lame-duck leader.

In the end, the rubicon was crossed when he chose Patrick Amuriat Oboi over Muntu in last year’s bruising party presidential elections.

2009 ALIGNMENTS

In 2008, the tenure of the party leadership had expired and as those in leadership had to seek a new mandate. A delegates’ conference was slated for 2009. The RA wing saw this as a perfect opportunity to reassert itself.

“They needed to fix the parliamentary caucus as a way of balancing power within the party,” a member of the RA, who has since switched sides, told The Observer.

Aswa MP Reagan Okumu, the man who was pivotal in getting the RA off the ground, was asked to challenge Latigo for the position of deputy president (northern). If he won, it would mean Latigo had to give up the LoP position given the 2006 NEC resolution that guided on how one qualifies to be chosen for that post.

The free-thinking incumbent says that when he got wind of the plan, he decided time had come to hold the bull by the horns.

“I kind of got information that the campaign which was going on was that Latigo the other time humiliated Njuba, this was meant to get the Buganda caucus vote for Reagan; so, when I handled the Buganda caucus, I had to address the delegates about the [Besigye issue],” he said.

“I told them that for me, I am contesting to keep my position as deputy president and as the deputy president, my job is to help the president, now why have you people accused me of wanting to be party president? Reagan had been quoted somewhere saying I wanted to be party president... As a party leader, and as leader of the opposition, I’ve worked with everybody,” he said.

Latigo says he wrote to Besigye telling him not to worry about Latigo, informing him “that if I thought he was not providing the kind of leadership that I agree with, he would be the first to know my intentions of opposing him.”

Besigye never replied. Latigo defeated Okumu, which meant that he could not be removed as LoP. At the same conference, the RA opposed another independent-minded member, the Bugweri MP, Abdu Katuntu. Katuntu had expressed interest in the national chairperson job.

Besigye’s people first lined up Obeid Kamulegeya or Yusuf Nsibambi but they were found to be lightweights when measured against the heavy hitter Katuntu is known to be.

So, Besigye persuaded his man, Njuba to stand. Njuba became national chairman. A few weeks after that conference, former Workers MP, Martin Wandera, who had been chosen as secretary for labour, was withdrawn by Besigye.

Wandera told The Observer,  “I was being victimised for having led the Muntu campaigns when he stood against Besigye.” 

In explaining the Martin Wandera incident, Besigye said, “I made a straightforward mistake that wasn’t intentional. The NDC [National Delegates’ Conference] had elected him to a post that I erroneously filled with another person. It was rectifiable and I apologised to him when the mistake was clear to me. However, it seems (from my observation since) that there was more interest in highlighting the mistake than rectifying it. Nonetheless, I still regret the mistake.”

Katuntu says the 2009 delegates’ conference was a defining moment for him.

“I supported Besigye and had always supported him but when I came to reflect on the behind-the-scenes of the conference I had to reconsider my relations with some individuals in the party,” he said.

NAIVETY OR MATURITY

Whereas most Besigye loyalists are adamant that their patron does not work in cliques, Dan Wandera-Ogalo, a level-headed political operator who worked with Besigye as secretary for legal affairs, says factionalism took root in FDC due to their failure to manage disagreement.

“Now, once they became camps, management of the party became problematic because people retreated into their original formations [PAFO or Reform Agenda],” he said.

Consequently, over time, one force (RA), either due to the gullibility of the PAFO side, or their willingness to tolerate suppression in the wider interests of FDC, started to dominate. Ogalo uses the example of Katuntu and his bid for national chair to illustrate his point.

“What could have guided people then? Maybe there was naivety on our part, but you see it is easy to explain and say ‘you people, the position of chairman has already been in Buganda. If now you bring a Musoga, you are going to destabilise our arrangement’. That was the argument then…

“What I have come to learn later is that there have been caucuses and I think that’s where you can say danger began. A certain tendency starts meeting and planning... This caucusing is not something we had in the party. You hear people have met in such and such a place; they have planned, when you are from the same party…” he said.

Ogalo says he got a better understanding of this when he also stood for party chairmanship in 2015. He says he was advised not to rock the boat.

“They said if a post is for Buganda, it will be for Buganda. I argued that but we have come from very far. Then we didn’t have people to take leadership positions but we have attracted people, now we have moved away from that. We should build a party based on competence, not based on religion, region or so on,” he said.

Eventually, he found himself facing virtual unknown inside opposition circles, Wasswa Biriggwa and Bwanika Bbale. Biriggwa, the newcomer, won.

“I was seeing him for the first time in the delegates’ conference! I heard that he had joined the party three weeks or three months before. So, I said to myself that if a person has come to a party just three weeks, how can he be rallying support? If we want a Muganda, why didn’t people support Bwanika Bbale? He is a former NRC member and CA member, and most importantly he is a founding member and former chairperson of Buganda caucus,” Wandera said.

Only later would Wandera discover that Biriggwa was introduced into the picture by then Besigye loyalist, Joyce Ssebugwawo. His entry was by design.

Last Saturday evening, Alaso also created the impression that her naïve belief misled her into thinking that whenever she was writing to former LoP Latigo in pursuit of Besigye’s wishes, she was only fulfilling her role as secretary general.

“Professor should not think that I was used to castigate him. I was doing what the NEC chairperson [Besigye] required the secretary general to do. In hindsight, perhaps things were beyond what we had imagined then,” she said.

Alaso acknowledges that there was animosity between Besigye and Latigo.

“I remember that most of the times when Besigye was away, he would never assign Latigo to act in his capacity. Of the deputies, it was only Salaamu [Musumba] who would act. That was always raised as a concern in one of the meetings and I remember another incident when he said that Besigye was not talking to him or taking his calls. In fact, in one meeting that I attended, Prof Latigo called Salaamu, so that he could reach Doctor through her but when Salaamu showed Doctor that it was Prof calling, Doctor refused to talk to him.”

Alaso said about the Martin Wandera fiasco: “It is the first time I am hearing that there was an apology made. As the secretary general, I could have documented that or come across it in the records because it is the same records in my possession that indicate the mistake or those actions as you would wish to call them.”

Alaso was FDC secretary general for 10 years. Between 2005 to 2009, she remembers that they as top leaders, especially those from PAFO, thought that “these tendencies would be outgrown”. 

“However, this was not the case with colleagues from the other side. We thought that we shared common values but we were naïve. Besides, at some point we thought that this was maybe about the fact that this being a new party maybe most of us did not have a clear understanding of how parties function because I remember how I fought to give status reports to the NEC and National Delegates’ Conference, when people like the late Dr Sulaiman Kiggundu did not like it.”

Latigo says there were basically two reasons they did not pick a fight with Reform Agenda.

“One, some of us did not want to start an early fight as to who should be the leader. Secondly, Reform Agenda which was the largest group in the debate and had the biggest network at the formation of the party, wanted to see the party led by somebody from their side.”

The writing was on the wall…

skakaire@observer.ug

TO BE CONTINUED

1 week 2 days ago

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