Wrong Move, don’t attack media, Deborah Malac tells govt of Uganda

BY Our Reporter

The U.S ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac has said the government’s attack on the media is a step in the wrong direction.

Malac, who was on Friday delivering a keynote address at a World Press Freedom Day national conference at Golf Course Hotel, said Uganda Communication Commission (UCC)’s recent directives to radios and TVs is indicative that media is under assault for doing its job.

On Wednesday, UCC ordered six televisions and seven radio stations to suspend its staff over alleged breach of minimum broadcasting standards. The affected media houses are; NTV, NBS Tv, BBS Tv, Bukedde Tv, Salt Tv, Akaboozi Fm, Beat Fm, Bukedde Tv, Capital Fm, CBS Fm, Kingdom Tv, Pearl Fm, Sapientia Fm, and Simba Fm.

Malac wondered why UCC hastily issued directives without defining sections of broadcasting standards that were allegedly breached by the media houses.

She pointed out other “quite concerning” trends curtailing media freedom in Uganda such as the closure of radio stations, hiking levies paid by radios and TVs, and proposal of new regulations. This repression of media, Malac said has a long-lasting effect on the media environment in Uganda.

Photo Credit: Faisal Kasirye
Photo Credit: Faisal Kasirye

Malac also referred to 2019 World Press Freedom Index where Uganda dropped 8 places–from 117 placings of 2018 to 125–out of 180 states ranked. Such performance and repression, she says send a wrong message to Ugandans.

Malac reaffirmed US mission support to the promotion of press freedom in Uganda and strengthening the organization of journalists.

“We, of course, must use our collective influence to urge the government to improve its record.

Today, as we have done in the past, the United State strongly urges the Uganda government to take action to protect and defend press freedom and to hold individuals who violate this freedom accountable,” Malac said.

Meanwhile, the European Union has expressed concern over the restriction of freedom of expression of the media and assembly in Uganda.

In their joint release issued on Friday, the European Union noted that they are deeply concerned by a series of recent incidents restricting the freedom of expression and assembly in Uganda, in particular, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC)’s decision to suspend staff of 13 media houses over allegations of breaching minimum broadcasting standards.

“We are also concerned about the excessive use of force by the Uganda police and security forces against peaceful protestors and opposition.” The statement reads.

“We urge the Government to ensure the implementation of all the relevant laws and regulations in a way that allows all Ugandans irrespective of their political affiliations, to exercise fully and without fear, their basic democratic rights enshrined in the constitution,” the statement says.

EU also underlines the importance of upholding judicial processes and stressed the importance of full respect for the rule of law and the right to a fair trial as set down in the constitution.

Tiwa Savage, Wizkid all at the UBA 70 years Celebration in Nigeria

By Edwin Muhumuza

United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc celebrated 70 years of operations . The platinum anniversary was combined with the bank’s annual CEO awards ceremony as members of staff from all 23 countries of operations who had excelled over the past year were rewarded in the midst of thousands of guests.

The Chairman, UBA Plc, Mr. UBA Celebrates 70 years with CEO Awards gala, accompanied by his wife Dr. Awele, remarked that UBA remains a leading financial institution on the continent and hitting the 70th year mark was a laudable achievement.

He said, “It is a time to celebrate UBA’s rich heritage and legacy over 70 years and to tell everyone who has contributed to what UBA is today, that we appreciate all they have been doing and how they have ensured that the investment put into the bank over the past decades have paid off.”

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, spoke about the banks’ achievements over the past 70 years and some of its objectives for the coming years, commending staff for their hard work and resilience that have contributed to UBA retaining its position as Africa’s top bank of choice.

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“Every year, it is our tradition to appreciate our people who have put in their very best and gone far and beyond the call of duty to deliver excellent services to our customers and this year is even more exciting as we celebrate 70 years of our existence.

From Uganda, Chief Dealer, Isaac Kasozi Iga scooped an Award of Excellence for his remarkable contribution as one of the main revenue contributors to the Group.

Chairman of Zenith bank, Jim Ovia ,commended the management and staff of the bank, adding that UBA remains one of the greatest banks in Sub Saharan Africa and is built to last. He congratulated all staff and shareholders noting that he should have bought UBA shares but it was not too late to do that.

In attendance at the epic night of activities, were royal fathers, captains of industry, political leaders, clients and friends of the bank. Some of the guests present were the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye, Enitan Ogunwusi; the Emir of Kano represented by the Sarkin Shanun of Kano, Alhaji Shehu Mohammed; Former and Present Governors of Cross Rivers State.Former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babaginda who could not attend the event sent in letters of congratulations to commend the bank on its landmark achievements.

At the celebrations, the story of UBA was depicted in the Tony Award winning Broadway musical of the Lion King. Serengeti depicts the story of the young cub who grew into a strong Lion, in spite of the odds, and empowered all the other animals in the jungle. Great performances by A-list artists such as ‘science students’ crooner, Olamide, Phyno,Patoranking, Dbanj and female sensation, Tiwa Savage entertained the audience of over 2500 guests. The surprise act which ended the night on a high, was the performance by award winning Nigerian artist, Wizkid.

President Museveni sued over “another rap” song

By Sania Babirye

President Yoweri Museveni has been dragged before the commercial court by a local Musician Richard Kaweesa for allegedly stealing his song “Another Rap” which he used in his 2010 presidential campaigns and later acquired copyrights to the song.

Kaweesa is also suing President Museveni together with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau for failing to carry out due diligence before illegally registering and granting President Museveni copyright adding that he produced the said song using a few Kinyakore words that were contained in the president’s speech of the 9th of October 2010 at Statehouse.

Ugandans dissatisfied with COSASE

By Edwin Muhumuza

Debate on the COSASE report starts this Tuesday (26 February) on the floor of parliament amid high expectations that maybe officials implicated by the probe will be brought to book. What the public is demanding for already are the heads of the culprits.

When it was finally completed and read to the house a section of the public said it had promised too much but only to deliver too little.

While appearing on the Capital Gang Radio Show, Chairperson Abdu Katuntu expressed disgust that members of the public did not appreciate the role of other state institutions. This was in response to claims that his report was toothless and that culprits would walk away free as had been noted in other previous parliamentary reports especially the oil handshake report.

…‘a parliamentary committee report goes to the house where it may be adopted, dismissed or amended. When you have government institutions, they work in accordance with the law. Why we talk about the rule of law is to have different institutions perform different roles. Do not expect a parliament of a republic or a parliament of any country to start having the powers to prosecute or arrest. What will the Judiciary do, Katuntu argued!’

In 2017, Ugandans were angry that 36 government officials shared Shs.6 billion oil bonus code-named the “golden presidential handshake” by officials from the Justice ministry, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Ministry of Finance among others. It was this same committee that probed the saga and in public view nothing has been done about the officials. This was one of the issues that Katuntu had to explain in recent weeks amid intense criticism from sections within his FDC party including his successor MP Mubarak Munyagwa for what they said was incompetence during his two and a half tenure as COSASE Chairman.

Now another major report is due for debate by public representatives and the question being asked is what will the discussion help if nothing may be done to those the report seems to indict?

Katuntu says, ‘our focus was in the actions more than individuals because at the end of the day there are state agencies that should be able to take up the individuals. What we did was to say, look here, actually, we used two words deliberately, the officers and officials who participated in this process should take full and personal responsibility. That covers their actions but we imagine that other state agencies now go and look at exactly who handled this process’.

For over two months, Bank Of Uganda (BOU), officials led by the governor Tumusiime Mutebile appeared before the committee chaired by the Bugweri County MP to answer to queries raised by the auditor general’s confidential special audit report which revealed weaknesses in the management of Central Bank and questioned the Governor and his team for the hitches in the closure of at least seven commercial banks.

The sale of Crane Bank, however seemed to have opened a can of worms after the proprietor businessman Sudhir Ruparelia accused Bank of Uganda of being unfair. Crane Bank was a commercial bank licensed and supervised by the Bank of Uganda, the national banking regulator with total assets‎ amounting to approximately ‎UGX 1.81 trillion employing over 600 staff.

This was a much bigger financial entity compared to the other defunct banks and certainly had to attract immense public attention including the media. In his new report to Parliament, the Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga, queried BoU officials on the flaws in the closure of Teefe Bank (1993), International Credit Bank Ltd (1998), Greenland Bank (1999), The Co-operative Bank (1999), National Bank of Commerce (2012), Global Trust Bank (2014) and the sale of Crane Bank Ltd (CBL) to dfcu (2016)

Most Ugandans are aware that the closure of Crane Bank by Bank of Uganda was illegal, what remains to be seen is what happens to the culprits that were engaged in this illegality and whether other agencies such as the Inspectorate of Government, the ministry of Finance, Criminal Investigations Department of Police will bite.

Falitha Night and Day Care proprietor charged with Murder.

By Sania Babirye

The proprietor of Falitha Night and Day Care has been charged with accidentally causing the death of a four-year-old who was in her care and custody.

Carol Mirembe appeared on Monday before Makindye Magistrate court where she was formally charged.

According to the prosecution, on February 5th, 2019 Mirembe caused the death of Natasha Tendo whose mother left the country to look for greener Pastures thereby entrusting the child with the accused since 2017.

It is alleged that Mirembe hit Tendo on the wall and later put her to sleep in her bed where her body was found lying with blood which had leaked from her injured head to other children she slept with.

But Mirembe who appeared in Court carrying her own baby denied Manslaughter charges and asked court Presided over by chief magistrate Prossy Katushabe to release her on bail.

The magistrate has then set Mirembe’s bail at 1.5 million shillings after finding the two sureties she has presented to be substantial enough to compel her to attend the trial

Magistrate Katushabe has further set Mirembe’s case for hearing on March 7th, 2019 after state prosecutor Jackie Okao informed the court that inquiries are complete.

However, Police says Tendo’s body is still stuck at the KCCA Mortuary almost three weeks after her death with nobody claiming it

BREAKING: Pope declines visit to Uganda.

By: Moses Kidandi

The Catholic church in Uganda has announced that Pope Francis won’t attend the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).

The assembly of Catholic Bishops in the country invited Pope Francis to visit Uganda again in July this year to grace the climax of these celebrations. However, the Uganda Episcopal Conference Secretary-General; Msgr. John Baptist Kauta indicates that His Holiness won’t make it to Uganda through the program for the celebrations will proceed as scheduled.

The opening Mass for the climax of the celebration is expected on July 23, 2019, at Lubaga Cathedral and the closing Mass will be on July 28, this year at Uganda Martyrs Catholic Shrine Namugongo under the theme; Church, Family of God in Africa, celebrate your Jubilee! Proclaim Meet and Welcome Christ your Savior.”

President directs finance to pay 23.5 billion in arrears to Buganda Kingdom

By Gloria Nakiyimba

President Museveni has directed the ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, to return all land titles belonging to Buganda to the Kingdom. The president issued the directive during his visit to the Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II at his palace in Banda an outskirt of Kampala.

“We discussed a number of pending issues particularly those concerned with land and arrears that the central government owes the Kingdom of Buganda And today the President directed the ministry of lands to ensure that all verified land titles that were returned to the Kingdom of Buganda be transferred into the names of the Kabaka of Buganda as by law established” said the Katikiro of Buganda Charles Peter Mayiga who attended the Banda meeting.
President Museveni arrived at the palace at 11.00 a.m. and was received by the Kabaka, Prince Daudi Kintu Wasajja. and other Buganda Kingdom officials.

Before the two Principals went into a private meeting, they held a discussion with Kingdom and government officials where, President Museveni also directed that outstanding monetary arrears to the Kingdom be paid in the next three financial years.

“The money is in three categories; there are rental arrears amounting to six billion shillings, in respect of Kigo, and Makindye barrack, and other places. So the president directed the ministry of finance to immediately pay three billion out of that” Mayiga explains.

According to Buganda Premier Mayiga, most of the titles of land that was confiscated from the monarchy by the central government during the 1966/7 were not transferred in the names of the Kabaka. “Following the 2013 agreement between the government of Uganda and the Kingdom of Buganda, the government undertook to return to the Kingdom all that land that was confiscated in 1966/7. The challenge we have experienced is that the titles have not been transferred to the names of the Kabaka of Buganda” said the Katikiro.

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Buganda Kingdom has been pushing for recovery of its land that was confiscated by the central government during the 1966 crisis which led to the exile of Sir Edward Muteesa the Kabaka of Buganda to Britain where he later died of poisoning. This happened after Kabaka Mutesa clashed with President Milton Obote.

Some of the financial compensation accrued from properties, like Mutesa House in London which was sold by the government of Uganda valued at 30 billion shillings and Plot 52 along Kampala Road which houses King Fahad Plaza valued at .14.1 billion?

“So the president directed that 23.5 billion be included in the national budget 2019/2020, and then the balance of 23.5 billion be included in the national budget 2020/2021” said the Katikiro of Buganda. The meeting was attended by Attorney General, William Byaruhanga and State Minister for Privatization and Investment, Evelyn Anite from the Central government.

National army to resolve Libyan crisis says President Museveni

By Gloria Nakiyimba

President Yoweri Museveni says building a national army is one the key solutions to the problems in troubled Libya.
While meeting the visiting Afro-Arab Youth Council delegation, at Stat house Nakasero the president who is the Patron of the Council noted that “The problems in Libya can be solved through the building of a National Army where they incorporate both the old and new members of the forces.”

He is also proposing that elections should be held where all the Libyans will participate fairly, as the leaders under the African Union continue to search for a lasting solution to the Libyan conflict.

The delegation led by Mr. Abdulhadi Elhwig was in the country to consult with their patron as they prepare for the 3rd General Assembly of the Afro-Arab Youth Council Summit. This is scheduled to take place in Kampala in August this year more than ten years since the 2nd General Assembly of the organization was held in Kampala in 2008 that was attended by former Libyan President, the late Col. Abu Minyar Muammar Gaddafi.

Mr. Elhwig, saluted President Museveni for his e immense support to the group and for accepting to host the summit again in Kampala this year. Libya plunged into a crisis during the Arab spring protests in 2011 which led to civil war and the subsequent overthrow and assassination of Col. Gaddafi on 20th October the same year in Sirte.
The proliferation of armed groups in the once stable Maghreb country led to violence and instability that continues to plague Libya, resulting in the death of tens of thousands of people as well as casualties. The crisis also saw the crumbling of the Libyan economy mainly driven by oil.

Uganda’s tourism stakeholders form a joint security committee

By Edwin Muhumuza

Tourism stakeholders have formed a joint security committee in a bid to ensure quick and efficient handling of crime in the sector. This during a dialogue at the Uganda Tourism Board offices hosted by the head of quality assurance Samora Semakula.

The stake holders dialogue was attended by the commandant of tourism police Frank Mwesigwa ,Association of Uganda Tour operators(AUTO),Uganda Hotel Owners Association(UHOA),Uganda Safaris and Guides Association(USAGA),The Uganda Association Of Travel Agents(TUGATA).

‘Members of the committee are expected to keep track of cases that have been reported countrywide to rid the industry of masqueraders who often fleece tourists of their money’ Semakula explained.

Tourism being the economic backbone of Uganda, has attracted quite a number of people into the sector seeking to cash in on the rewards of the God-given beauty of the country, consecutively listed among the top three destinations of the world every year by global tourism agencies.

However, weaknesses in the law have been a challenge in ensuring transparency amid concerns that the Tourism Act,(now under amendment) is silent on several issues pertaining to safety and quality of services offered by stakeholders.

Commandant of tourism Police Frank Mwesigwa appealed to tour operators to liaise with the police to ensure that tourists are accommodated in Known hotels and to provide security when necessary. This on grounds that tourists have complained of theft of property and other valuables when accommodated in poor quality and substandard hotels and lodges.

The Chairperson of the Uganda Safaris and Guides Association, Herbert Byaruhanga noted that all members of registered associations should have their lists displayed on their websites as well as that of the Uganda Tourism Board, so that Police can easily identify criminals adding that blacklisting and displaying of suspected criminals will go a long way in ensuring that tourist and hotels will shun them.

The Executive Director, Uganda Hotel Owners Association, Jean Byamugisha called for a Name and Shame list of tour operators and Hotels that have been named to have been involved in criminal activity because there are no consequences for now, so that the law can deal with them. Byamugisha added that there is need for the sector to ‘bite’ and use one culprit as an example to the rest to desist from crime.

Concerns were also raised from the Uganda Association Of Travel Agents over the laxity from some airlines to join their association, a move they say may be a set back to the sector.

Other issues of concern was that there is no one in the country that can produce a record of the number of tourists entering Uganda per day from all entry points for accountability purposes. However members observed that it will have to take an order from cabinet to the sector to deliver the records daily to the tourism police other than the Uganda Bureau of Statistics that has red-tape.

Flights to Entebbe Cancelled: Ethiopian Airlines plane overshots runway

Report by Robert Segawa

Flights to Entebbe international airport have been cancelled after an Ethiopian Airlines plane overshot the runway early this morning. Communications director Civil aviation authority Vianney Lugya says all 139 passengers on board the air craft Boeing B_737_800 safely disembarked from the airport.

The flight registration number ET- ATV with flight number ET- 338 on 3rd January 2019 on regular schedule service from Addis Ababa to Entebbe Uganda over shot the land way that led to hundreds of passengers remain stranded at Entebbe international airport after suspension of some incoming flights.

This led to tighten the security at the Airport as officials didn’t allow people to access the stream of Airport.

Lugya Civil aviation authority effort is under way to remove the Athiopian airline plane for planes that are coming to the country to land.

The facts that it over shot the land way and is at end of the land way, has some how affects the incoming flight which can not come in at the moment, says Lugya. He however says there wasn’t any passengers that was injured in the morning incident.

The aircraft had a total of 139 people on board all of them disembarked safely without any problems and no observed damage to the aircraft. Lugya adds that it over shot the land way has some how affects the incoming flight which can not come in at the moment.