Parliament’s store keeper convicted of stealing a DVD set

By Sania Babirye

A civil servant working as a permanent staff at parliament has had his 8 month jail sentence for stealing a DVD video recorder squashed by the high court in Kampala.

Ochen Peter who was a store keeper had been convicted of stealing the said DVD worth 800,000 shillings and ordered to serve 8 months in Luzira prison and ordered to refund the said money.

However, being dissatisfied with the lower court judgement, he appealed both the conviction and sentence maintaining that he was innocent .

Ochen had stated that on the alleged day of 2nd May 2019 when the alleged theft took place, he was at Mulago hospital caring for his son who had been admitted at the hospital.

Ochen had also presented admission letters and a discharge form that showed the admission and their discharge on the 7th of May five days after the said theft took place.

However, the lower court dismissed his evidence saying that he was the one with access to the store were the said theft took place.

And today, high court judge Yasin Nyanzi was in agreement with Ochen that evidence adduced showed that he was indeed at Mulago hospital nursing his son who was had testified in court that his father was at hospital that day taking care of him and could not leave his sick sin at 11pm in the night alone at the hospital to go to Parliament to steal the said DVD .

Justice Nyanzi has also faulted the security at parliament of failing to at least show Ochen at parliament premises that day as alleged.

In conclusion, Justice Nyanzi observed that Ochen was never at Parliament that day and that indeed state failed to link the convict to the scene of crime.

He is also concerned with the convict that he was not the only person with access to the said room since other people including his supervisor had access too.

He then squashed both the conviction and sentence and set Ochen free ordering that being a public servant, the said illegal conviction should not have a baring to his job .

Parliament committee on rule commences investigations into Gen.Tumwine’s conduct

By Alice Lubwama

The parliamentary committee on Rules and discipline has today begun investigations into the conduct of the army representative in parliament also security my minister Gen Elly Tumwine.

The speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga tasked the committee to investigate the behavior of general Tumwine following allegations of him undermining the speaker and the entire parliament.

The committee is also required to ascertain the allegations by Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal that the general threaten her life.

Tumwine also disobeyed a parliament’s directive for him to vacate Nommo gallery a government facility and to pay over 1 billion shillings rent arrears to the National cultural center

The committee has received the video clip from parliamentary security showing how Gen Tumwine attacked Cecilia in the corridors of parliament.

The committee has also interfaced with Rubaga North MP Moses Kasibante who proposed that Tumwine be disciplined to act as an example to others who misbehave just because they went to the bush and liberated the country.

Kasibante was the first person to table evidence in the house on Tumwine attacking parliament over its decision on Nommo Gallery.

Security minister Tumwine threatens Cecilia Ogwal

By Alice Lubwama
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has directed the clerk to parliament to beef up security for Dokolo woman MP Cecilia Ogwal after her life was threatened by security minister Elly Tumwine.

This is after Ogwal reported to Parliament today how general Tumwine attacked her in the presence of her colleagues outside the house just after she made a statement in the house that one time the same general pointed a pistol at her when she objected to the use of DDT.

This has been confirmed by Amuru woman MP Lucy Akello who said that she actually saw the General Twine warning her senior colleague.

The incident happened just a few minutes after General Elly Tumwine had just apologized to parliament for his undermining statements against parliament.

Bukonjo West MP Godfrey Atkins Katusabe narrated how the general had undermined parliament when he had approached him on the recently issued directive of shoot to kill in his constituency.

Kadaga demands Government assurance on the safety on Murchison falls

By Alice Lubwama

The speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga has demanded for an early assurance from Government that it will not tamper with Murchison falls.

While opening the plenary sitting this afternoon, speaker Kadaga said that she was seeking the assurance on behalf of the citizens who are concerned about the tourism sector.

This comes after the power regulator; Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) published a note inviting public views on the planned feasibility study of the area by a South African firm that would eventually construct the power dam.

Tourism operators and conservationists have all come out to oppose the move saying that by constructing a dam near the falls, it will disappear.

Murchison Falls is situated in the Murchison Falls national park in the northern part of the Albertine Rift Valley.

It is well known to be one of Uganda’s ancient conservation areas. The park covers an area of about 3,893km2 and it is known to be one of Uganda’s well-protected areas.

The speaker has also set a deadline for government to table before parliament all the business considered important by mid August for early consideration, saying that the business committee of parliament which convened this morning discussed the parliamentary calendar and the business to be handled and agreed that mps break off for recess by 3rd October.

“We have in mind the electoral reform bills, I don’t know how many times I should emphasize this but we need answers on this.” Kadaga said

She noted that the mps need to complete their work before October, in order to have time for their constituency since this is the year when lawmakers spend more time with their constituents.

The speaker has also asked the leader of government business also prime minister to ensure that ministers attend the sittings of the house since in absence of a relevant minister; she will be forced to order any minister to handle any business.

Parliament passes 40.5 trillion budget,works and transport ministry get the lion’s share

By Alice Lubwama
Parliament has passed a 40.5 trillion shillings budget for the next financial year 2019/2020.Next year’s budget is increasing by 20 percent compared to last year’s budget from 33 trillion shillings to 40.5 trillion shillings.

Ministry of Works and Transport takes the biggest share at 6.4trillion, Education 3.2trn while 3.1trillion has been allocated for interest payments.

Ministry of Energy will get 2.9 trillion, Health 2.5 trillion, security 3.6 trillion, Agriculture only one trillion, Justice and law and order sector will have 1.6 trillion, accountability 1.9 trillion.

Some of the ministries had a reduction in their funds and these include water and environment from 1.2 trillion to one trillion, lands and housing from 202 billion to 193 billion , science and technology 184 billion to 159 billion.

The parliament budget committee noted that Domestic and External Financing will constitute 74.5% and 25.5% of the total resource envelop respectively.

In this, the domestic revenue collections will stand at 29.4 trillion while eternal resources will yield 10trillionshillings.

Uganda Revenue authority is expected to collect 18trillion while 1.4trillionwill come from non tax revenue, other money will be attained from the petroleum fund 445bn, local government collections 201bn and domestic borrowing will yield 8.5b

Next year’s budget has had a 20 percent increment compared to last year’s budget from 33 trillion shillings to 40.5 trillion shillings.

In terms of Sect oral allocation, ministry of Works and Transport takes the biggest share at 6.4trn, Education 3.2trn while 3.1trn has been allocated for interest payment Ministry of Energy 2.9 trillion, Health 2.5 trillion, security 3.6 trillion, Agriculture one trillion, Justice and law and order 1.6 trillion, accountability 1.9 trillion.

Some of the ministries have received a reduction in their funds and these include water and environment from 1.2 trillion to one trillion, lands and housing from 202 billion to 193 billion , science and technology 184 billion to 159 billion.

The parliament budget committee notes that the Domestic and External Financing will constitute 74.5% and 25.5% of the total resource envelop respectively.

Appointment committee vets new members of Uganda land commission

By Alice Lubwama
The parliamentary Appointments committee chaired by the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga vets the new members of the Uganda land commission.

The new head will replace Baguma Isoke whose term of office expired

The new members include;the former woman member of parliament for Hoima district Beatrice Nyakaisiki,former Iganga district chairperson Asuma Kyafu; former Gulu university Vice Chancellor Prof Nyeko Pen-Mogi, Stella Achan and former Kabale Town Clerk Rukiika Bujara.

Hon Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki was nominated by the president to replace Baguma Isoke as Chairperson of the land commission .

Soon after vetting Byenkya said that once approved as Chairperson she will push for a law making the Uganda land commission recognized in Act of parliament as other commissions created.

She also promised to ensure that government surveys its land and it is issued with titles to avoid encroachers.

The former legislator also said that will deal with the backlog of persons whose land was taken by government for various projects and were never compensated.

She added that she will also convince the president to abandon the proposal to reduce on the land fund .

She also pledged to ensure that the commission staff get pay rise to minimize on the possibility of corrupting them while executing their work

Parliament passes motion to protect minorities

By Edwin Muhumuza

Parliament has passed a motion urging government to recognize and protect the unique languages, culture and customs of minorities .

This following a motion moved by Hon. Asamo Hellen Grace ,the representative of Persons With Disabilities in the Eastern region and /Chairperson, Committee On Equal Opportunities and seconded by Hon.Kumama Nsamba,Bbaale county.

Accordingly it demands that government Clearly defines and recognize ethnic minorities in the country and put in place specific laws and guidelines for the protection of ethnic minorities; Recognizes and protects the unique languages, culture and customs of minority communities in Uganda, address historical injustices suffered by ethnic minorities in Uganda and ensure their right to access and occupy their historical sites especially those located in protected areas is recognized and protected.

Additionally government is expected to takes urgent steps to promote the peaceful coexistence and eradicate the discrimination and persecution of ethnic minorities, develop inclusive and intercultural educational curricula,which ensures that all ethnic minorities have an understanding of their multicultural society,adopts policies that promote and develop the cultural heritage and distinctive cultural practices of ethnic minorities,and finally to ratify the ILO Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, 1989.

Uganda has a number of ethnic minority communities who are scattered across the country such as the Alur, Ik (Teuso), Kakwa, Karamojong cluster, Lugbara, Luluba, Ma’di, Nubian, Bagungu, Bakenyi, Bavuma, Ik (Teuso), Soo, Abayanda, Batwa, Ba’amba, Bakonzo, Benet, Bakyingwe, Bagabo and the Maragoli;

However it is of concern that these minority groups suffer from negative perceptions of their ways of life, traditional livelihoods,occupations and land use leading to the loss of their identity,language, cultures and customs as well as their subjugation by their more dominant neighbors.

According to demographic surveys and research from a wide range of organizations the indigenous communities in Uganda continue to experience challenges to their existence including the lack of security in land tenure, marginalization in terms of political representation, exclusion from Government programs, human rights violations, including forced evictions from their ancestral lands, violence, intimidation and destruction of their properties and historical injustices such as the demarcation of national boundaries as well as the creation of national parks and game reserves during the colonial period;
It is basing on these facts that parliament warns that unless remedial measures are undertaken to address the challenges and historical injustices suffered by the minority communities in Uganda, the existing minority communities will lose their unique culture, language and identity resulting in their extinction.

MPs demand closure of unscrupulous lenders’ accounts

By Alice Lubwama
A section of members of parliament have renewed their call to Government to freeze the accounts of the promoters of Ponzi and Pyramid schemes which promise high returns with little or no investment to people to defraud them .

In February this year Parliament asked the Prime Minister DR Ruhakana Rugunda to investigate the matter and report to parliament and action be taken against Ponzi and Pyramid owners who are robbing Ugandans of their money.

However, addressing a news conference at parliament MPs including Mwine Mpaka the youth representative from western Uganda ,Kigulu south MP Andrew Kaluya and Kasambya county MP Gafa Mbwatekamwa blamed government for delaying a report to parliament to stop this business which they claim is not properly regulated.

The youth mp Mwine Mpaka explains that parliament passed a resolution for government to freeze the accounts of the individuals operating Pyramid schemes and money taken to consolidated fund but to date nothings is being done.

” In February this year, the speaker asked him to present this report before the closure of this session.Should this report come and there is no action taken, we shall not only know that the executive is facilitating the existence of these Ponzi and pyramid schemes but also protecting these ponzi schemes as alleged by the public.” Mpaka said

The legislator noted that some of the individuals operating Pyramid schemes abandoned their original schemes and created new ones with intent to continue exploiting unknowing Ugandans.

He also alleges that some people who lost their money with one company whose account was frozen in 2017 have never been compensated by the ministry of finance.

” we also have information that in June 2017, they froze the account of one smart Protus magara and this 2million US dollars, we do not know whether the ministry of finance actually fixed it or it went to the consolidated fund, because this money was meant to go back to the people who lost their hard earned money but up to now they have never been compensated”. Said Mpaka

Mp Mbwatekamwa say that Government should first close all these Ponzi and pyramid companies as parliament resolved and then have them return all the money ,they have collected from Ugandans.

The central bank in 2017 cautioned the public against investing in Ponzi schemes, saying the scheme is a fraudulent investing scam promising high rates of return with little risk to investors.

According to bank of Uganda, Money invested by clients in this scheme
is not invested in any legitimate business but used to pay the people
operating the scheme as well as those who invested earlier on.

BOU further note that is why Ponzi schemes can sometimes appear to be
genuine and profitable investments; because the people who invested
first seem to be benefitting.

According to the central bank, the pyramid scheme is similar to a
Ponzi scheme but, like the name “pyramid” suggests, it is based on a
hierarchy whereby new investors are the bottom of the pyramid.

Under this scheme, the income the people provide by paying membership
fees or an initial investment is used to pay original investors.

Bank of Uganda further clarifies that pyramid and ponzi schemes, do
not sell products or make real investments but they simply rely on
money from new investors which is channeled to those at the top of the

New income tax amendment rejects government proposal to tax losses

By Alice Lubwama
Parliament has passed the income tax amendment bill rejecting government proposal to begin taxing companies that have been making losses for the past seven years.

The Uganda revenue authority had proposed an amendment in the Income Tax Act to introduce a tax penalty for a companies which report losses for a consecutive period of seven years of income on gross turnover for every year.

The state minister for finance in charge of planning David Bahati argued that the amendment would be critical at limiting revenue losses that occurs when a business that is making profit takes advantage of an assessed loss to avoid paying revenue for years.

Although majority of MPs on the Finance Committee Okayed the move to tax loss making companies, but budadiri west MP Nandala Mafabi rejected the move authoring a minority report and warned the Executive against creating an Act called Loss Tax Act.

The MP has also urged the Uganda revenue authority to intensify audits and investigations to discover those tax payers evading taxes but not charge a tax of 0.5%.

The chairperson of the Finance Committee of parliament Henry Musasizi said that they needed to amend the act since some companies were using an existing lacuna in the law to evade taxes.

“We have a list of the companies which belong to that category [of reporting losses]…they are suspected to be producing two sets of accounts, one for the management and another for the tax body,” he said.

But Butambala county mp Muhammad Kivumbi who successfully proposed the deletion of the proposed tax challenged the proposition that Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) lacks the basic competence to detect or avert such alleged false accounting.

“Last year, we enhanced the capacity of Uganda Revenue Authority by 90 billion shillings so that they can have the capacity to expand the tax base. Therefore, the argument that the Chair fronts does not stand,” Kivumbi said.

Even though the minister of state for planning Bahati tried to make MPs support his proposal saying that government will lose 40 billion they planned to raise from the measure and it is something that is done in other countries the MPs did not heed to his explanations and the bill was passed without the amendment.

Some of the companies that were meant to pay the tax loss include Barclays bank, NSSF, the micro finance support center, Munyonyo common wealth resort limited, hotel Africana among others

Parliament condemns UCC order to suspend senior journalists

By Alice Lubwama

Legislators mainly from the opposition side in parliament have condemned the act of the Director of Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) ordering 13 radio stations to suspend senior journalists for covering Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi.

The matter was raised in the house by Kira municipality mp Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, who said that Uganda was declining in terms of media freedom which has negative bearing on the tourism sector because the incidents taint the image of the country.

“You can only promote tourism by marketing a country repeatedly, but the moment you have negative coverage, even if you market your country, people who want to visit will keep checking websites to see whether the country is safe,” Ssemujju Nganda added.

The law maker has also asked the ministry of internal affairs to put sanctions against individual’s actors tainting the image of the country.

Mbale municipality MP Jack Wamai Wamanga cautioned Government on how the whole world was watching events happening in Uganda and condemning them.

However the State minister for Housing, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi who spoke on behalf of government and assured the house that government is committed to promote media freedom.

Balyomunsi has asked the media institutions to use all remedies to resolve the matter including challenging the directives by UCC.

“I have seen one of the letters from UCC to NBS television and UCC is saying they have breached some of the broadcasting standards. One of the remedies available for such institutions could be challenging such directives.” Baryomunsi noted

He also denied allegations that government had banned opposition leaders from appearing on broadcast media houses.
“The media has been awash with reports of unfair treatment of opposition leaders, Dr Kiiza Besigye and Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi, it is reported that these leaders have been denied opportunities to appear on talk shows in different media houses, with directives from UCC to suspend journalists who host such leaders, which is not true” He added