Kampala. A subject who sued Kabaka Ronald Mutebi challenging the compulsory registration of people living on the king’s land will have to wait longer to get justice due to shortage of judges.
In a December 15 letter to the petitioner, Mr Male Mabirizi Kiwanuka, Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine directed the management of Civil Division of the High Court to halt the case until the government appoints new judges.
“For now, I have no judge to re-allocate the case to,” wrote Justice Bamwine, adding that Justice Basaza Wasswa indicated to him about her inability to continue handling the case.
“Please be patient with us as the waiting may not be long and the delay has in any event been occasioned by your request to most judges to recuse themselves,” Justice Bamwine stated.
The letter follows a series of correspondences with Mr Kiwanuka in regard to having the case heard and determined on November 6, last year.
He asked the principal judge to allocate the application for temporary injunction which was partially handled by Justice Basaza before she was transferred to Execution and Bailiffs Division.
Mr Kiwanuka contends that the land in question was returned to the Kabaka by the central government and therefore it is public and collectively owned by subjects.
Mr Kiwanuka contends that the Kabaka is only holding the land in trust for his subjects but is not their landlord.
Meanwhile, in a December 19 letter, Mr Kiwanuka petitioned Chief Justice Bart Katureebe and the chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission, Justice Benjamin Kabiito, accusing the principal judge of disregarding his plea.
Mr Kiwanuka asked the Chief Justice to intervene so that the matter is allocated to a judge.
However, recently, Justice Kabiito said his commission would recruit about 250 judicial officers to the lower Bench (registrars, chief magistrates and magistrates) this year.
He also said the commission, sent a list of 22 names to President Museveni from which to appoint 16 judges.
KAMPALA. The Court of Appeal has finally fixed January 15 as the date it will pass the much awaited appeal judgment in which former Managing Director of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), David Chandi Jamwa is challenging his 12-year sentence.
The Court’s deputy registrar, Mr Tadeo Asiimwe, has issued the judgment notice to Jamwa's lawyers and the IGG, directing them to come on the set date and receive the verdict.
Should the Court of Appeal agree with Jamwa, they will overturn the Anti-Corruption decision and acquit him of all the charges. On the other hand, if his bail will be cancelled and taken back to Luzira to continue serving his 12-year sentence.
He is currently out on bail since June 2011.
In 2011, the then Anti-Corruption Court judge John Bosco Katutsi, found Jamwa guilty of having sold several NSSF bonds to then Crane Bank before their maturity dates, a move that caused the Fund a financial loss of Shs3b.
The court also barred him from holding public office for 10 years.
The IGG contended that between September and November 2007 in Kampala, Jamwa being a person employed in a public body, NSSF in the capacity of managing director, in his performance of duties sold off several government bonds held by NSSF before their maturity dates to Crane Bank at prices below their then discounted value thereby causing an unfavourable price variance of Shs3,163,256,502. The IGG said Jamwa knew or had reason to believe that his actions would cause and did cause financial loss to the fund.
But being dissatisfied with the conviction, Jamwa appealed against it seven years ago and the appeal court says it is ready to pass its judgment after revaluating the evidence of the Anti-Corruption court.
Kampala. Top cadres of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party yesterday welcomed the move by President Museveni to assent to the constitutional amendment Bill, which makes him eligible to contest in the next presidential elections and beyond.
With the signing of the age limit Bill into law on December 27, 2017, the top NRM cadres have advised their Opposition counterparts to honourably accept defeat and return to work.
“It’s good that the President has swiftly assented to it and he had to do so as he is mandated by law. As NRM party, we are excited that the Bill was assented to by the President and we are going back to the grassroots to work,” Mr Solomon Silwanyi, the vice chairperson of the NRM Caucus, told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview yesterday.
Mr Silwanyi, who is also the Bukooli Central MP, added: “To our brothers in the Opposition, they should accept defeat honourably.”
Museveni applauds MPs
In his New Year message to Ugandans that was televised on major TV and radio stations, President Museveni saluted the 317 MPs, mainly from his ruling party, for voting ‘Yes’ to the amendment that he said would result into a flexible Constitution.
“I want to salute the 317 MPs who defied intimidation, malignment and blackmail and opted for a flexible Constitution to deal with the destiny issues of Africa instead of maintaining Uganda on the path of unimaginative, non-ideological, neo-colonial status quo. By so doing, they enabled us to avoid the more complicated paths that would have been required,” Mr Museveni said.
The NRM party Deputy Secretary General, Mr Richard Todwong, yesterday applauded the President for assenting to the Bill.
“Having been passed by Parliament, I knew the President would sign it. From the NRM side, we supported it right from its infant stage,” Mr Todwong said.
Weighing in on the same excitement, Information minister Frank Tumwebaze welcomed the President’s move to assent to the age limit Bill.
“We supported the Bill whole heartedly as we wanted the people of Uganda to have a chance of electing their own leaders,” he continued.
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, when contacted, branded President Museveni’s assent to the Bill as ‘positive’ for the country’s destiny.
“Two out of three of the MPs supported this Bill and it’s good that the country is consolidating its future and destiny. We are happy that this is happening,” he said.
Mr Jacob Oboth Oboth, the chairperson of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, a committee that handled the scrutinisation of the Bill, said he was glad that the Bill he oversaw had come to its completion with the President assenting to it.
However, Opposition Chief Whip Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda said they [NRM] shouldn’t celebrate as the court process is not yet done.
“Museveni and NRM followers wanted to close this age limit thing as soon as possible given the fact that it was unpopular. They realised how bad it was for the image of the country and themselves as politicians,” Mr Ssemujju, who is also the Kira Municipality MP, said.
He added that the happiness exhibited by the NRM MPs is because they have also stolen two extra years.
“The celebration is mutual since Museveni and the MPs have all benefited in their own way. But until the court processes are complete, they shouldn’t celebrate,” the MP warned in a telephone interview yesterday.
KAMPALA- The Minister of Public Service, Mr Muruli Mukasa, has said government is considering changes in the pension schemes as one way of looking for money required to effect a pay raise for public servants.
He revealed that having a contributory pension scheme for public servants will help government raise the required funds.
“A contributory pension scheme will eventually relieve government of some of the commitments of paying. For instance, the workers can contribute 5 per cent and government contributes 10 per cent and government can meet the entire cost of setting up that scheme,” Mr Mukasa said.
He also said the pay raise should factor in a cover for the annual inflationary changes to enable workers meet the 5 per cent contribution obligation to the pension scheme.
The minister, who was speaking at a thanksgiving ceremony of Mr John Ndyomugyenyi, the national chairman of Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association (Utoda), at All Saints Church in Kabale Municipality on Thursday, assured the congregation that the pay raise will motivate public servants.
He said through the Ministry of Finance, government is looking for areas within the budget to find money.
“We are looking further into some of those areas where we can raise funds within the budget to ensure workers get paid. In any case a commitment has been made by the President but also cabinet so I don’t see us backtracking,” he said, adding that the only thing government can do is to raise the money.
On Thursday last week, this newspaper revealed the Shs1.8 trillion that the salary review committee proposed for a pay raise for government workers is not included in the Budget Framework Paper.
However, Mr Mukasa said when the frame work paper was made, the money that could be released for salary enhancement was less than what we expected but he indicated that discussions are going on to get the money.
Also, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija has since said he had not decided on the pay raise for civil servants ahead of the 2018/19 Financial Year.
In the just concluded year, a number of civil servants, including doctors, judicial officers and state prosecutors went on strike, demanding decent salaries.
State Minister for Finance David Bahati, who also attended the service, asked Christians to move on after Parliament finalised with amending Article 102b of the Constitution.
While delivering his speech, he announced a contribution 100 bags of cement towards the church construction.
Kampala-Four Labour Unions have questioned the relevance of workers’ MP slots in Parliament following what they term as a flawed consultative process in the just concluded presidential age limit debate.
The unions representing civil servants and employees in public universities, food and beverages, textile and leather sectors, claim that whereas their parliamentary representatives were supposed to consult the electoral colleges which voted them, they instead consulted NRM members who voted for the removal of the presidential age limit.
“We have 42 labour unions, each with 11 executive members who should have been consulted, but none of the MPs consulted the electoral colleges which voted them to office,” said Mr Milton Turyareeba, the chairman of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions (COFTU).
“I went around the country consulting voters; I met over one million of them and they voted against the removal of the age limit, that is why I voted against it, if they are not satisfied, then I can vote otherwise,” Mr Turyareeba said.
This contradicts the statement by his boss, Mr Sam Lyomoki, one of the workers’ representatives, who claimed to have consulted more than one million workers across the country and said they all supported the removal of the presidential age limit.
Ms Margaret Rwabashaija, who is among the four workers’ MPs who voted in favour of the removal of the age limit, said they had no financial capacity to convene the electoral colleges and resorted to consulting market vendors, construction workers and railway employees who told them to vote in favour of the removal of the age limit.
“You ask the Electoral Commission how much they always spend in convening the Electoral College. You need more than Shs1 billion,” she said.
Asked whether the procedures were followed in the consultations, Mr Wilson Owere, another workers’ MP, said he is “too busy” fighting for the minimum wage and did not want to be diverted by politics of the age limit Bill.
“When you [see] a police patrol car at night, run!” that is the advice a local leader in Bwaise II zone gives residents.
The statement speaks volumes about the mistrust between the police and the people living in some of Kampala’s slums where crime, radicalisation and extreme violence breed – especially in communities with immigrant populations.
Police has got a reputation of being rather brutal.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Uganda, European Union and police are setting up facilities to help stop crime before it occurs.
A recent meeting between police from the directorate of counter terrorism, local leaders and residents of Bwaise in Kawempe, Kampala, revealed how the Early Warning Systems initiative hopes to work. The plan is to establish avenues through which the people can freely interact with police and report crime before it happens.
Sahra Farah, project manager for Strengthening Social Cohesion and Stability in Slum Populations (SSCoS), explained that globally, law enforcers respond to events that are happening, but with the early warning system threats can be prevented before the fact.
“We are working with police and will be in the three slums we are working. The project targets where IOM extends equipment and financial services for start-ups to enable the youth establish their businesses,” she said.
The systems are being established in Bwaise, Kisenyi and Katwe or Kabalagala’s slums. Reports from IOM indicate that slum youths are easily radicalised, making them vulnerable to extremism which exposes Uganda to terrorism.
The set-up includes computers and mobile phones through which the community will call or send SMS. A typical centre will be manned by the police and community members chosen by residents in an area.
Assistant Superintendent of Police Mary Nankinga, who is in charge of social media, recognises that the public does not have faith in the police and observes that such initiatives will help boost police work and security in the slums.
“With the Early Warning Systems in place, we are going to continue to work on our relationship with the people; people that bring us information need protection but sometimes we don’t do that in time. Sometimes it’s because the community is not cooperative or fear to talk,” she said.
“IOM has trained police officers and from the skills we give them, enable us easily interact with communities; terrorism always starts small with things like killing women, hitting people with iron bars, groups like Kifesi but the community must be ready to work with police,” she said.
President Yoweri Museveni has hailed parliament for passing the controversial age limit bill on December 20, saying in doing so, the MPs had saved Ugandans from "the more complicated paths" that would have been required.
Without specifying these "complicated paths", Museveni, in his New Year's address forced upon broadcasters on Sunday, suggested that had parliament not passed the age limit bill, "more complicated paths" would have been required as "the destiny of Africa can't be under-cooked or be badly cooked."
Uganda has never had a peaceful transfer of power since independence in 1962, with presidents having to shoot their way to power. Without the constitutional amendment that removes the requirement for presidential candidates to be under 75 years of age, Museveni would have been ineligible to contest for the presidency in 2021 after the expiry of his current term.
"I want to salute the 317 MPs who defied intimidation, malignment and blackmail and opted for a flexible Constitution to deal with the destiny issues of Africa instead of maintaining Uganda on the path of unimaginative, non-ideological, neo-colonial status quo. By so doing, they enabled us to avoid the more complicated paths that would have been required. We cannot kukonesa (under-cook or badly cook) the destiny of Africa." he said.
President Museveni addressing the nation
A total of 317 MPs last month passed the age limit bill which lifted the upper 75-year age cap and also lowered the 35-year lower cap to 18 years for those contesting for presidency. 97 MPs voted against the bill while two abstained.
The MPs, mainly ruling party MPs, voted to remove the upper age limit and also extended their term of office by an extra two years claiming the five years are not enough for service delivery in their constituencies.
“The 317 MPs have played a crucial role at this historical junction (masanganzira) just like the 28 cadres of Montepuez, Mozambique played in the formation of the Fronasa army, the 43 fighters with 27 rifles played when they attacked Kabamba and the 232 MPs of the 7th parliament played in opening up the term limits that have enabled Uganda to cover more ground," Museveni added.
Museveni also hit back at his critics who accuse him of being greedy for power and selfish by hanging unto the presidency of the country.
Now into his fifth term of office, the recent constitutional amendment to lift the age limits was seen by many analysts as Museveni's latest move to circumvent the only remaining legal barrier to what some call his ‘life-presidency’.
Museveni said he is not greedy for the presidency as some suggest because he gets no material benefits for being president of Uganda. He said his, is more of greed for sacrifice rather than greed for power.
“I heard some people talking of “greedy” politicians. Greedy for what? What material benefit do I get from being involved in government? In the last 52 years, I have either been working for no pay or for little pay. May be those people talking mean “greedy” for sacrifice,” he said.
On the perceived ‘life-presidency’ project, Museveni said those accusing him of harbouring such a scheme, are either uninformed or enemies of progress for Uganda and Africa.
“Those liars who talk about “life-presidency” of Museveni should be exposed for what they say. They are either un-informed individuals talking about things they do not know or evil schemers who do not want Uganda and Africa to succeed.
When Mwalimu [Julius Nyerere] was advocating for the East African federation, some would malign him saying that he was ambitious and he wanted to dominate East Africa. Mwalimu is now long dead. What would have happened if the other leaders had gone along with his vision? Whom would have East Africa benefited? Obviously, we who are here and the future generations,” said Museveni.
BETRAYING CLERGY, MEDIA
As expected, Museveni did not spare the media and clergy, whom, he accused of working with the groups they 'fancy' to make them get political power instead of working for the independence of Africa.
“The real democracy we fought for provides that: “all power belongs to the people”, they are the ones to decide their destiny through universal suffrage at regular intervals or through their elected representatives. Some of the elements, however, mainly working with foreigners, try to impose pseudo-democracy where the power of the people is constrained by term limits, age-limits, even educational qualifications,” Museveni said.
Museveni accused the clergy of playing the ‘know-it-all’ role, speaking authoritatively almost on everything. The clergy have been critical of parliament for passing the age limit bill. Even in their Christmas prayers and messages, many of them accused the MPs who passed the bill of being greedy and short-sighted. They asked Museveni not to assent to the bill.
“Some of our religious people are so full of arrogance. They talk most authoritatively on all and everything even when they have not bothered to find out the truth. This is assuming they do not have evil intentions which would be worse. That would make them into the Kayaffas, the Chief Priest, that betrayed Jesus.
This is in the Book of Matthew Chapter 26:57–75. It says: “And those who had laid hold of Jesus led him away to Caiphas the High Priest where the Scribes and elders were assembled. Now the Chief Priests, the elders and the Council sought false testimony against Jesus to put him to death” he said.
Museveni accused the media of being the “devil” that is holding back the continent by harbouring non-African interests. He particularly accused New Vision CEO Robert Kabushenga of using the state media to specialise in writing trivialities.
"The Monitor [news] paper is always working for non-African interests. Nevertheless, recently, Mr. Kabushenga was persuaded to publish, in his Christmas paper, the Uganda Argus of the 6th of June, 1963. I will never forget that issue of the 6th of June, 1963. I was in S3 at Ntare but already very much involved in politics. I had never been so happy nor have I been so happy since as I was happy on that day and for some months afterwards", he said.
"The headlines on the front page of the paper, with the pictures of Mzee Kenyatta, Mwalimu Nyerere and Mzee Obote, shouted: “Federation This Year”, “Top-level talks end in Nairobi”.
Ugandans this is the Photostat copy of that happy newspaper issue. Has any of our media houses that are supposed to “inform”, “educate”, “entertain”, ever mentioned this to you? After a few months the devil that is always the enemy of Africa had killed this effort.
"Had this effort succeeded, East Africa would possibly today be where India is. Certainly, there would have been no Idi Amin, the genocide in Rwanda would never have been allowed to take place, the endemic problems of Burundi would have been contained, the problem of South Sudan would have been easier to solve and even the problem of Somalia would have been solved."
Kampala. The government has not provided the Shs1.8 trillion in 2018/19 national budget required for salary rise for civil servants as had been proposed by the Ministry of Public Service under the Pay Reforms, the National Budget Framework Paper (NBFP) shows.
“Based on the proposal by the Ministry of Public Service, Pay Reform will require Shs1.8trillion next Financial Year and Shs3.6 trillion over four years. However, government cannot accommodate the requirement in the budget for FY 2018/19,” the Finance Ministry states in the framework paper.
“Pay reform, therefore, has to be done in a phased manner taking into account the available resources. To accommodate this requirement, the following trade-offs require immediate action: freeze all new recruitment except those on replacement basis; indefinitely halt operationalisation of the 13 new districts and 200 town councils approved by Parliament; and, stop government grant aiding of private schools, universities and hospitals coupled with a comprehensive restructuring of Government,” the ministry further states.
When Daily Monitor asked the Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Keith Muhakanizi, why the Ministry of Finance has not provided for the proposed salary pay rise for public servants in 2018/19 budget, he said it is a question for Cabinet to answer.
“That is a policy issue; Minister Matia Kasaija is the one better placed to explain it. However, what I can say is that we are making some adjustments on the salary reform pay rise that has been proposed by the ministry of Public Service to ensure we provide what we can afford based on the money that is available,” he said but added he was out of office until next month.
Mr Kasaija did not answer our phone calls.
The ministry’s spokesperson, Mr Jim Mugunga, told Daily Monitor that their role is to bring out realities of the budget in the framework paper at the point of releasing it but whatever comes out is the work of Parliament which allocates the budget funds.
“What has been stated in the NBFP is not final, it is to give a picture of what is available. It is the duty of Parliament to channel the available resources where they are needed most. They can find new ways of funding the budget by getting more resources somewhere else and allocate it where they want,” he said.
Mr Mugunga said the Ministry of Finance is being
honest on the availability of money and it is the reason it is telling government the proposed salary pay rise for civil servants cannot be accommodated in 2018/19 budget.
However, he said this does not stop Parliament from using other means to raise the required funds.
Other policy recommendations in the NBFP state that in order to address expenditure challenges, the government should finalise the irrigation policy and place its implementation under Ministry of Water and Environment to ensure proper coordination in provision of water for production by all government agencies.
The ministry said government must halt creation or operationalisation of new administrative units (districts, municipalities and town councils).
It further says there should be no creation of new agencies, including public universities.
The ministry says freezing the creation of new administrative units will enable government implement the proposed comprehensive pay reforms for all government employees in 2018/19.
“Relatedly, the policy of one secondary school per sub-county and a technical school per constituency will be reconsidered. In addition, government should stop grant aiding of private schools and hospitals starting FY 2018/19 on onwards and Moratorium on all New Recruitments across the Service,” reads the Finance ministry’s budget paper.
The ministry says new staff recruitment should be carried out strictly on replacement basis.
The ministry also cautioned that there should be no selective pay enhancements to avoid agitation and piece meal management of the pay-rise pressures from employees. “All enhancements will be addressed in the comprehensive pay reform,” the ministry states.
The chairperson of Uganda National Association of Teachers Union (Unatu), Mr Zadock Tumuhimbise, said teachers want salary increase and it should be provide for in 2018/19 budget because they have been negotiating with government for long.
“They should take public service as a priority to motivate public servants to ensure quality in public service delivery in the country,” he said.
Medical doctors in public hospitals who called off their strike recently over pay rise after government promised to address their grievances, may resume their industrial action.
The president of Uganda Medical Association (UMA), Dr Ekwaro Obuku, said they will not perform their duties at the current pay rates because government has been promising them salary increment for a long time.
He said government should put money in priority areas of public service especially medical workers.
“Uganda government has money, let them (Finance ministry) include the salary pay rise in the 2018/19 budget to enhance effective operation of doctors and other public servants. Otherwise if they do not, we are going to see multiple strikes next year by the medical practitioners and other public servants,” Dr Obuku warned.
The chairman of the general of National Organisation of Trade Unions in Uganda, Mr Usher Wilson Owere, said there is a lot of wastage of public funds in government so the ministry of Finance cannot claim they cannot accommodate the salary increase in 2018/19 budget.
“I think somebody is looking for trouble this time round by not including salary increment for public servants. We are aware there is a lot of wastage of money in this country through corruption. So we want this money they are wasting to be in the budget for salary payment of public servants,” he said.
In the transport sector, the ministry of Finance asked government to scale down new projects and shift focus to road maintenance as Shs100 tax will be imposed on every litre of fuel to raise about Shs202 billion annually for road maintenance.
The ministry also says the Works and Transport sector should also prioritise timely maintenance of roads to tourist sites, industrial parks and other economic zones.
The ministry further warns that no creation of Special Funds under MDAs effective 2018/19 onwards because this normally causes disjointed efforts and fragmentation of resources which undermine delivery of the desired impact.
The ministry asks government to centralise land valuation under the Office of the Chief Government Valuer to stop Ministries, Departments and Agencies from using private valuers contrary to Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act.
Over the years, Government has created a number of institutions to reduce workload on existing ones and ensure faster implementation of Government programmes or projects.
However, Ministry of Finance says while the creation of the different institutions was well intended, they have resulted in duplication of mandates, poor coordination, wastage and increased cost of administration.
“In line with the guidance from the President, the review and restructuring of Government institutions will be expeditiously undertaken to eliminate duplication, wastage and ensure efficiency. In order to identify savings to implement pay reform, Government will review and rationalise the current expenditures on non-core items for example allowances, workshops, travel inland and abroad,” states the National Budget Framework Paper.
In addition, the NBFP reveals that government will review the existing agencies, authorities and departments with similar mandates for possible reorganisation and merger.
Judicial officers, prosecutors and medical workers have called off strikes for salary increment this year and the announcement by ministry of Finance no money has been provide form in next year’s budget could trigger a resumption of or new industrial action by different categories of government workers.
Kampala. Former Kampala mayor and two town clerks should face prosecution over the “irregular and fraudulent” sale of Nateete market, a sub probe committee on the market has recommended.
According to the probe recommendations, Mr Nasser Ntege Sebaggala and former Kampala City Council (KCC) town clerks, Mr James Ssegane and his predecesor Ruth Kijjambu, should be investigated and if found culpable, be prosecuted.
Others who face prosecution are city advocate Josephine Karugonjo and Frank Muleka.
KCCA not spared
The current Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is also faulted for lack of effort to recover the leasehold for Nateete market and a mailo land title that had been registered in the names of KCC.
The report released yesterday by Kampala minister Beti Kamya recommended that government carries out an investigation into proceedings that preceded the sale of the market to unearth the forgeries.
The report accuses KCCA of concealing information pertaining to the sale of the market and all the irregularities, while at the same time KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi and KCCA spokesperson denied ownership of the market in the media and in Parliament.
During her visit to the parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises in July, Ms Musisi told MPs that KCCA did not own Nateete market.
The market was sold to RR and Family Transporters at a cost of Shs3.5b. RR and Family Transporters Company Ltd is owned by G. Ruhweza and Grace Ruhweza.
They bought the market following a court order issued in March following an application by the sellers; Musa Damulira, Madina Nasejje, Juma Lutwama, Sulaiman Nsimbe and Ismael Sebugwawo.
The company bought the market after allegedly borrowing Shs250m from David S.F Bukaalanye in 2007, but failed to pay back. The lender in 2014 then filed a case in the Land Division of the High Court in Kampala, which he successfully won, leading to the attachment of Nateete market land title.
Ms Kamya yesterday said the government policy does not allow individuals to acquire land where there are public facilities such as markets.
“We will not allow an individual to evict you. You are here to stay. I am going to follow up the recommendations in the report and you will see how things will turn,” Ms Kamya said.
Families of the six Rwandan nationals arrested on December 19 and 20 want government to take them to court or release them immediately.
The six were separately arrested over a week ago and have since been detained incommunicado without any charges. On December 19, suspected security operatives arrested five Rwandan nationals – Freddy Turatsinze, Jessica Muhongerwa, Vanessa Gasaro, Dianne Kamikazi and Dianne Kamashazi – from the western district of Mbarara.
On the following day, another group of security operatives raided a bar in Nyanama near Kampala and arrested another Rwandan national, Herbert Munyangaju, who was allegedly transferred to the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) in Mbuya.
“After several inquiries, I established that the armed men were operatives of the [CMI] and that, indeed, all the six people are being held at the [CMI] headquarters,” Claudette Ninsiima, a wife to Munyangaju told journalists at a press conference at Grand Imperial hotel this morning.
Ninsiima claims that with the help of her lawyers Gawaya Tegulle and Eron Kiiza, she filed a written complaint to the CMI seeking permission to see her husband in vain. The lawyers have also been denied access to the detainees.
Lawyers Gawaya Tegulle (L) and Eron Kiiza address the media today. Photo: Nicholas Bamulanzeki
Ninsiima appeared at the press conference with the two lawyers but did not allow any photojournalist to take photos of her; and after reading a two-page statement, she left all the talking to the lawyers.
“As a family, we are concerned that our people have been, against their will, detained, pursuant to an arrest irregular and unlawful in every sense of the word,” said Ninsiima, who claimed to be speaking on behalf of the families of all the detainees.
“On behalf of the families of the detainees, I call upon the government of Uganda, and particularly the UPDF and CMI, to respect the detainees and treat them in a humane and respectful way, respect and follow the law regarding the detention of suspects, grant us – the family, lawyers and medical personnel – access to our people,” Ninsiima said.
The arrests came a few days after the arrest of 45 other Rwandan nationals, 43 of them from Kikagati in Isingiro and two others in Kampala.
The 45 are currently being detained at Nalufenya police station in Jinja and face terrorism charges, according to a statement by police spokesman Emilian Kayima.
“The suspects committed very serious offenses, they committed the crimes in different parts of the country, and no one police region has complete jurisdiction over them. Moreover, being a large number involved in the same offences, it is more efficient and convenient to manage them in one place,” Kayima said.
Last week’s arrests brought to 52 the number of Rwandan nationals that are being detained by Ugandan security agencies. The Observer has learnt that the 45 who were allegedly arrested with forged travel documents will be paraded before the Chief Magistrate’s court in Jinja on January 5, 2017.
The arrests and detention, according to Tegulle, are in contravention of international law.
“Under international law, the government of Uganda has a duty to protect anyone within its borders,” Tegulle told journalists, further accusing the government of abusing the rule of law.
“There has been no respect of the rule of law…we have approached CMI and were denied access to them, we called [the army spokesman Brig Richard] Karemire but he did not answer our calls, we have written to the Ministry of Defence but they have not responded. If there are any cases against them, let them [detainees] be brought to courts of law other than being held incommunicado in ungazetted places,” Tegulle said.
Tegulle also claimed that the arrests are out of the growing tensions between Uganda and Rwanda, adding that such tensions should not lead to abuse of human rights.
On his part, Kiiza alleged that, like Rene Rutagingira, who was deported back to Rwanda after spending some time in detention, the detainees have been subjected to different forms of torture.
Our repeated calls to army spokesman Karemire went unanswered.