Mbale DHO asks government to partner with civil society organisations

By Deo Wasswa

Mbale District Health officer, Dr. Janathan Wangisi, has said that the government will never achieve the universal health coverage without partnership from development partners, private sector and civil society.

According to him, there is no single government including developed ones that can deliver healthcare services to 100% of its population.

Wangisi who was speaking during a dialogue organized by Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) in Kampala on promoting community participation to improve Uganda’s primary health care services, he expressed his worry about government’s reduction in funding for advancement of primary health care services caused by effects of COVID-19.

Dr. Wangisi however hopes that moving forward as government will effectively implement the National health Insurance scheme (NHIS) bill recently passed by the Parliament of Uganda which seeks to provide universal healthcare to all Ugandans. The passing came after members rejected Health State Minister in charge of general duties Robinah Nabanja’s motion to withdraw the Bill after saying that the government wanted to withdraw the Bill pending more consultations.

“When we pool resources across all sectors, those who have help those who do not have and for me it’s the long lasting solution for advancing health care services in the country.” DR. Wangisi noted.

He added that the insurance scheme will also play a pivot role in strengthening the community health programmes.

In the same dialogue, Patrick Mwesigye, a team leaders at Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) noted that there must be a mechanism to build strong community voice for communities to regain back their health to influence and shape health care in terms of how funds for health is allocated.

He noted that people like village health teams should be prioritized and motivated to have a strong improved primary health care services in the country.

According to him, efforts to foster mechanisms for increasing effectiveness of community participation in local health systems are required today more than ever to foster transparency, accountability and give individuals and communities a voice in health related decision making at a local and national level.

The Supreme Court sets new dates for Age Limit appeal hearing.

By Sania Babirye
The Supreme Court has set the 15th and 16th of January 2019 to hear an appeal filed in respect of a  Mable Constitutional court ruling that upheld  Constitutional amendments which lifted the cap from the minimum and maximum presidential age – limit.
This is after today  the parties involved in this appeal held a conferencing hearing before a panel of 7 justices headed by the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe and presented to court the outcome of a meeting they had yesterday at the Ministry of Justice boardroom.
The Attorney General  William Byaruhanga who is the head of the bar has addressed  court that in yesterday ‘s meeting parties agreed to consolidate the 3 appeals into one because they all rise from the same judgement and address similar issues, that parties agreed on 8 issues to be determined by court and that lastly  parties opted to file written submissions following schedules given by court as opposed to oral submissions which consume time.
Among the agreed issues is one  whether the  4  Constutional court  justices who were part of the panel that  heard  the petition at Mbale committed procedural errors , whether they erred in law and fact to hold that the removal of the presidential and LCV officials  age -limit was not inconsistent with the Constitution .
Others are  whether the justices erred in law and fact to hold that the entire process of conceptualizing, debating and enactment of the age-limit law didnot contravene the constitution and whether or not the presence of violence in and outside Parliamnet during the debating of the Age -limit bill didnot contravene the constitution.
The Chief Justice has ordered  that  parties should  file and serve each other with  their  written submissions of not more than 50 pages  by not later than  31st /December/2018 .
After which ; the Justice  Katureebe  ordered that each party wil have an honour to adress and highlight its submissions on the 15th and 16th /January 2018 following which court will retire to write and deliver its judgement on notice .
However as it has become a  norm , one of the appellants lawyer Male Mabirizi had rejected one of the justices on the panel;  Richard Buteera but the Cheif Justice Katureebe was quick to a dress his fears saying justice Buteera is sitting on today’s panel for pre-trial purposes but Justice Eldard Mwangusya  who is currently out of the country is the one to sit on the quorum to hear the actual appeal .
Mabirizi also raised an application to summon the speaker of Parliamnet Rebecca Kadaga for cross-examination during the hearing but justice Katureebe informed him that there was no quorum to hear his application.
In court the appellants including Uganda Law society , 6 opposition MPs and Male Mabirizi and the respondent ;  AG William Byaruhanga together with his deputy Mwesigwa Rukuntana were present.

More witnesses being grilled at the age limit hearing

The government legal team led by the Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana has been probed at-length over emerging information that Parliaments decision to entrench the Presidential term limits is not reflected in the Constitutional Amendment Act 2017.

Parliament in December last year passed the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2017. The bill among others lifted the presidential age limits and restored the Presidential terms limits.

The Parliament during the committee stage also adopted a motion by Budadiri West MP, Nathan Nandala Mafabi urging that the term limits should not only be restored but also entrenched.

By agreeing to the Mafabi motion by majority vote, Parliament had in effect moved the article about the restored term limits and included among entrenched articles of the constitution under article 260. Article 260 details articles of the constitution whose amendment requires the holding a referendum.

The constitutional court hearing in Mbale was plunged into a lengthy exchange between the judges and the Attorney General’s legal team after it emerged that the entrenchment of the Presidential term limits is missing from the Act assented to by the President.

The Court has been probing into the matter since Tuesday when Clerk to Parliament, Jane Kibirige was cross-examined on the fact that the Nandala Mafabi amendment seemed to have not been extracted from the official record of Parliament-the Hansard for inclusion in the amended Constitution.

The Acting Director of Civil Litigation, Christine Kaahwa seemed to have opened a can of worms for the Attorney General’s legal team when she submitted that article 260 of the constitution was not amended.

Deputy Chief Justice, Alphonse Owiny-Dollo followed by other judges seemed to disagree with Kaahwa’s submission leading to a lengthy probe.

Justice Owiny-Dollo said his side was relying on the record tendered by the Attorney General, not the petitioners.  The Clerk to Parliament on cross-examination on an affidavit she swore in defense of the amendment, admitted that the speaker had put a question in relation to the Nandala Mafabi motion and the House decided on that.

The question at the hearing was whether the Constitutional Amendment Act 2017 as it is, reflects the decision of Parliament.

Kaahwa insisted that the claim that article 260 was amended would create an absurdity because the final Act does not show that article 260 of the Constitution was amended.

Justice Kenneth Kakuru overruled Kaahwa’s submission saying submissions from the respondents led by Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana was causing confusion.

The Deputy Attorney General who is leading the respondent’s side later admitted that the Nandala motion had been adopted by Parliament. Rukutana’s admission attracted another round of questions from the judges. Justice Remmy shot first followed by Justice Owiny-Dollo.

Rukutana later said that the said article could be inserted after a referendum is held.

The government according to submission to the court is planning to hold a referendum in line with the Constitution Amendment Act 2017



Rukutana says Government acted with in the law on age limit

Deputy  Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukuntana  has told court in Mbale hearing the age limit petition  that  parliament acted within the law and prescribed procedures to amend the Constitution including the lifting of the 75 year old presidential age limit and enlargement of the MPs and LC5 leaders tenure term in office from five to seven years.
Rukutana and  solicitor General Francis Atoke led a legal  team of other  18 state Attorneys  in their effort to prove before a panel of five justices that the law was constitutionally passed. He adds that government did not break any law while facilitating the entire process leading to the amendment of the constitution including the  funds from the consolidated fund to pay 29 million shillings to each mp  fir consultations.

Police searching for remains after nasty accident on Mbale-Tororo road

By Patricia Osman
Mbale Police are searching for the remains of unspecified number of people killed in a motor accident along Mbale-Tororo road last night when a Fuso truck lost control and hit the guard rails before plunging into a valley.

According to residents, several people aboard the Fuso truck were killed and police have since recovered the body parts of some of the victims while others are believed to be trapped under the truck.

Some of the body parts can be seen scattered all over the accident scene.

Eight behind bars for terrorising Mbale residents

Police are holding eight suspects accused of terrorising the community in Doko trading centre in Mbale district with toy guns and other weapons.

The suspects were picked from their base in Doko village on Saturday. They were found preparing food. Police recovered toy guns, hammers, bow, arrows, machetes, spears and a cricket bat fitted with nails.

A woman who spoke to URN on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimized says the suspects were deployed in the area to guard a disputed piece of land adjacent to local church but they started terrorising residents.

Suwed Manshur, the Elgon Region Police Spokesman, declined to comment saying he was on leave and referred us to the District police Commander, Stephen Ahweera, promised to give details later.

The Elgon Region Police Commander, Francis Chemusto declined to comment saying he was yet to get a briefing from his juniors. The information we obtained shows that police intends to parade the suspects before the media on Tuesday.



Police re-arrest Lira’s notorious serial criminal Ajep in Mbale

Joseph Omoo alias Ajep, Lira’s most wanted and self-confessed serial criminal has been re-arrested. Ajep was picked up from Mbale over the weekend by a team of Police Flying Squad operatives from Kampala and Lira.

Robert Abak, the Lira Resident District Commissioner, says Ajep was picked up together with his three accomplices including his girlfriend. Police identifies the three other suspects as Emma Atim, Daniel Owiny and Ayub Ateka.

The suspects were briefly held at Mbale Central Police Station before they were driven to Lira Central Police Station where they are being held. Ajep escaped from custody on Friday last week following his admission at Lira Regional Referral Hospital for multi-drug TB treatment.

Two prison warders who were deployed to guard him in the TB ward in the hospital were arrested and remanded for aiding the inmate to escape. The two warders are Corporal Denis Ogweng and Corporal Patrick Buhsendish, both attached to Lira Central Government Prison.

Police suspected foul play in the way the inmate escaped since they found his handcuffs they have used to tie him on the bed open. Shortly after his escape, Ajep made telephone calls to several radio stations in Lira town implicating police for aiding his escape.

Ajep also boasted that he couldn’t be rearrested since he had paid the officers Shillings 9.7 million to aid him escape, a claim police have vehemently denied. Ajep faces the charges of escaping from jail, simple and aggravated robbery. He is accused of being the mastermind of several robberies and murder of several boda boda cyclists in Lira Town.




Dry spell causes water scarcity in Mbale, a jerrycan of water costs 2000shs

Prolonged dry spell has triggered off a water crisis has hit Mbale town with a 20-litre jerrycan going for 2000 shillings.

The only spring well adjacent to Police Barracks that used to serve the people from the bus park and taxi park has dried up.

URN saw people queuing to fetch water from as far as six kilometres outside the town.

Brian Taremwa, the Mbale Municipality Manager for the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), says they are able to pump only 1,000 litres per day yet the demand is 10,000 litres. Taremwa noted that  NWSC is currently rationing water supply to its clients in Mbale due to the prolonged drought.

NWSC has two treatment plants which draw water from Nabijjo, Manafwa and Nabuyonga rivers.

Taremwa explains that out of the three rivers it’s only from Manafwa that NWSC is drawing water 24 hours while  the other two rivers the water levels have gone down.

Taremwa  said the most affected areas in the Municipaity are Half London and taxi park and among others. He revealed that the water levels have drastically reduced due  to the prolonged drought and human activities upstream.

In some areas in Mbale people have stayed without water for as long as one month.

Peter  Lomaruk, a passenger travelling from Kampala to Moroto told URN  that he spent a night in one of the lodges in Mbale town without bathing. He said he was told that they had not had water for two weeks.

Ezekiel Wadada, a resident of Indian Quarters told URN that he had spent one month without water in his house.

Norah Kulume, a resident of Namatala says they are faced with a big challenge in getting water for domestic use and for selling Ajono, a local brew popular among the Iteso.

“Our customers have to wait until I get someone to fetch water. I use a boda boda from Namatala to Bugema to fetch water which is too costly,” lamented.

URN also saw most of the public toilets at the Bus Park, Taxi park and Mbale market closed due to lack of water.




Mbale municipal council issues guidelines for new clean up plan

Mbale Municipal council has issued a three month’s ultimatum to proprietors of commercial buildings in the town to renovate them to avoid closure of their businesses.

Mutwalib Zandya, the Mayor Mbale Municipality announced the ultimatum this morning, saying the building owner have 90 days to give their buildings a facelift or risk closure.

He explains that the council issued guidelines last year to guide the property owners and developers on how to renovate and construct buildings respectively. He says commercial buildings should have proper toilets, water, solid trash bins and pavers among other requirements.

“By the end of June every buildings in Mbale town should look beautiful because soon we may attain city status and whoever will fail to comply, the law will take its course,” Zandya said. This move comes at the time when Mbale is struggling to attain city status and regain its past glory of being the cleanest town in Africa.

Some of the buildings in Mbale central business district, which were after staying for over 50 years are illegally being converted into flats. Meanwhile, some of those under constructions have already been occupied as construction work goes on.

According to Zandya, the owners of these buildings and illegal structures have received several warnings in vain. He says the council also intends to remove all the bonding and hoardings around various buildings.Developers have welcomed the move saying it has been long overdue.

Mohamed Mazid, who owns three commercial buildings along Republic Street, says some of the structures constructed more than 50 years ago have never had any face lift. He says most of the owners are just businessmen who are after money and are not bothered about the state of their buildings. He says some building are life threatening.

Hussein Muhamud, another developer wants the council to enact a bylaw that would deter unauthorized persons from tagging posters on their buildings.Edward Lwanga, the town clerk Mbale Municipality says they are determined to ensure the town is cleaned up. He says they will demolish all illegal structures especially those built on sewer lines.

“This time we have resolved that all buildings erected without the approval of the municipal physical plan will be pulled down,” Lwanga said.


ON DUTY: European Union Election Observation Mission in Uganda Team

Following an invitation from the Government of Uganda, the European Union has established a mission to observe the 18th February General Elections. The Chief Observer of the Election mission is Mr. Eduard Kukan, a Slovak member of the European Parliament. The mission comprises around 120 observers from all EU countries, as well as Norway.

The EU Mission in Uganda says a credible national voters’ register is key to a transparent election. Marian Gabriel, the Deputy Chief Observer at the EU Election Observation Mission 2016, says the Electoral Commission must ensure that the voters’ register is accurate and void of scrutiny from the opposition and the electorate.

Marian says the biometric system is one of the steps the EU Observer Mission thinks will provide safeguards against fraud during the 2016 general elections.

Marian was speaking at the dispatch of thirty EU long-term observers who will be monitoring the campaign period in the run up to the February 18 polls and after.

Thirty EU long-term Observers, grouped in two-person teams, departed yesterday from the Election Observation Mission’s headquarters in Kampala to their respective areas of responsibility across the country.

“They will be observing all aspects of the electoral process in their duty areas, meeting with election officials, candidates and civil society representatives. They will report back to the core team in Kampala and the information they provide will be the basis for the mission’s assessment”, said Mr. Marian

The observers will be based in Kampala, Mityana, Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, Kabarole, Masindi, Arua, Gulu, Lira, Soroti, Moroto, Mbale and Jinja districts.

Closer to Election day, around 80 short-term observers will join the mission. Two days after the election, a Preliminary Statement will be presented by the Chief Observer in a press conference.

Marian says the observers will focus on the presidential and parliamentary campaigns to monitor media access to candidates and the role of security forces in the elections, among others.

Photo Credit: