Media applauded as the country deals with COVID19

By Daudi Zirimala
Ugandans have been urged to honor the critical role that media is play in society, particularly in this time of crisis because they are and have always been an important bridge between government and citizens.

According to Non-Governmental Organisation Twaweza, media is channel of verified and balanced information which is enabling citizens to make informed decisions about the on going situation. They add that the media has done a tremendous job by covering hard to reach areas and painting a picture of how a cross section of citizens are surviving during this pandemic.

Twawenza outlines a few statistical findings from their a study made on a cross section of the public.The findings revealed that 58% of the Ugandans believe journalists are professional, while 56% believe that media is providing accurate information, 51% of the public thinks media tells the truth to powerful people and 49% of the public think journalists are non partisan, 43% think that journalists are acting with integrity or are avoiding corruption, 53% say they would be proud if their children became journalists.

These findings were released by Twaweza to ahead of World Press Freedom Day which is slated to happen on Sunday 3rd, May.

The research was based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey.

Kadaga warns government against inadequate research

BY Alice Lubwama

The speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga warns government ministries to carry out adequate research on bills before they present them to parliament for consideration.

While opening the 4th session of 10th parliament at serena hotel this afternoon Kadaga said that government withdrawn four bills from parliament because of lack of research and consultations from the various stake holders.” I want to express my disappointment that in the number of areas there was obvious manifestation of lack of adequate preparedness and consultation to stake holders at formulation stage of these bills and this wasted parliament’s time.

The speaker said that she was particularly disturbed by Government’s failure to process the Kampala capital city authority bill since 2015.

The speaker has also asked the executive to bring all business it considers important in the first two weeks of this session especially those on electoral reforms, saying that parliament will transact business for limited time because MPs will focus more in their constituents because the road map for the next election is already out.

“Members are usually uncomfortable around this time and they focus on what is happening in their constituents, it is therefore necessary that the executive brings all business it deems important with in the first two months so that it can be processed by committees and later considered by the house.Kadaga said

Kadaga also commended MPs for their dedication to parliament work during the last session compared to the previous one.

She noted that parliament of Uganda passed the highest number of 26 bills in the 3rd session ended compared to other countries in the region.

“During this session we have supersede all other parliaments in that we enacted 26 bills as compared to 11 in the first session and 17 in the second session ,we had the highest number in the region.’’ She noted.

The speaker has also warned accounting officers of government ministries and agencies to stop funding committee work yet these are supposed to monitor their performance. Kadaga has threatened to report such accounting officers to the head of public service to take action against them.

Stella Nyanzi’s lawyer says Makerere charges are inconsistent with freedom of expression

Isaac Ssekamadde, the Lawyer of Makerere University Research Fellow, Dr. Stella Nyanzi has written to the university to drop the disciplinary proceedings against his client. In an April 5th letter to Mary Tizikara, the Human Resource Director Makerere University, Ssekamadde argues that the charges slapped against Nyanzi are inconsistent with the freedom of expression guaranteed in the constitution of Uganda.

“We urge you once more to immediately terminate those so called disciplinary proceedings and make the necessary arrangements to give our client sufficient reparations for inconvenience and injury so far caused to her,” the letter reads in part. Adding that, “let it be stated once more that the charges framed against our client relating to her alleged social media comments are inconsistent with her right to freedom of expression and other constitutional imperatives, including academic freedom in the 2011 public universities and other tertiary institutions act.”

He contends that by attempting to suppress Dr. Nyanzi’s free speech through the ungazetted university human resource manual as well as the unjustified warning and suspension, the appointments board has failed to appreciate her freedom expression. Ssekamadde warns the university to “cease and desist not only from acting like the thought police in a tyrannical regime but also from the misguided campaign of harassment, intimidation and victimization of Dr. Nyanzi through endless disciplinary proceedings.”

Fresh trouble for Dr. Nyanzi started last week when she posted a strongly worded message on her Facebook wall criticizing First lady and Education Minister, Janet Museveni for failing to prevail over government to provide sanitary towels for girls in school. As a result, Prof Ddumba Ssentamu, the Makerere University Vice Chancellor suspended Dr. Nyanzi on recommendation from the appointments board.

In his letter, Bruce Kabasa, the Chairman, Makerere University board noted that Dr. Nyanzi had “continued to use social media to violate Section 5.7.7 of the Makerere University Human Resource Manual 2009. It’s particularly regrettable that Dr. Nyanzi has made it a habit to insult, dehumanise and castigate the line Minister of Education and Sports under whose docket Makerere University’s supervision falls.”

Section 5.7.7 of the Makerere University Human Resource Manual lists offences that constitute misconduct including use of abusive or insulting language. Mary Tizikara, the Human Resource Director Makerere University couldn’t be reached for comment. But the Vice Chancellor, Prof Ddumba confirmed receiving the letter.

“The letter has been written to the university human resource director but I have received a copy. Regarding its content, I have no comment now because it (letter) will be discussed by the university appointments’ board.” Dr. Stella Nyanzi isn’t new to controversy. In April last year, Dr.Nyanzi clashed with Professor Mahmood Mamdani, the Director Makerere Institute for Social Research leading to her suspension.

It all started after Prof. Mamdani directed Dr. Nyanzi to vacate her office for alleged failure to meet her contractual obligations.




Research reveals that Ugandans are the biggest Pork consumers in Africa

Ugandans’ raving appetite for pork makes them the biggest consumers of pork in Africa. This has been disclosed by Dr Ben Lukuyu, the Uganda Country Representative of the International Livestock Research Institute.

He was presenting research findings on sweet potato and production of silage from vines for growing pigs at the Roots, Tubers and Bananas end of project meeting in Entebbe, Wednesday. The research, conducted in Masaka and Kamuli districts, explored linkages between sweet potato production and growing of pigs for consumption and commerce.

Dr Lukuyu, an animal nutritionist, said the per capita consumption of pork in Uganda is 3.5 kilogrammes, making Uganda the biggest consumer of pork in Africa and second to China globally. He added that 1.1 million households keep pigs and 3.5 smallholder farmers directly depend on growing pigs, while millions others are employed in the value chain.

Dr Lukuyu said that while the pigs sub-sector is growing by leaps and bounds, it is facing a number of challenges like high cost of feeds, poor quality and quantity of feeds; hence the need to explore usage of potato vines.

He said although the growing of pigs and demand for pork is huge and growing, performance of Ugandan pigs in terms of weight gain and growth is relatively poor yet the potential of feeds is high.

Dr Lukuyu said the potato vines, key in making silage, are available locally at no cost from farms, homesteads, markets and hotels. He said there is an opportunity to exploit the wide availability of sweet potato vines, as well as other variety of feeds to boost piggery, adding that sweet potato vines offer better digestibility in pigs.

Dr Lukuyu added that the pig production industry is showing no sign of slowing down, hence the need to promote it.

Marsy Asindu, a student of Makerere University who was part of the research team, said market potential for silage from sweet potatoes is huge because so much waste is generated from the crop.

Asindu said in the research areas of Masaka and Kamuli they found out that the market for silage from sweet potato vines is eight billion Shillings and three billion Shillings respectively. Nationally, Asindu says that the market potential for silage made from sweet potato vines is 11 billion Shillings.

Uganda Investment Authority Investment Executive, Yvonne Munabi, said such sweet potato vines silage innovation should translate into lower prices for consumers instead of the reverse.

A kilo of pork presently goes for 10,000 Shillings, way too expensive for many Ugandans.

Uganda is the biggest producer of sweet potatoes in Africa, with most farming households actually producing the crop. The sweet potato is literally grown throughout Uganda including in arid Karamoja.




Uganda to benefit from funding for Non-communicable diseases research

By Waswa Deo

Uganda is listed among the 11 African countries that will benefit from a research programme on non-communicable diseases (NCDs).  GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a World  leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare company has set aside  440M UGX  to fund the research.

Other countries benefiting from the cause will include Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana, The Gambia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal or Tanzania.

Dr. Davis Kibirige, Medical Advisor for GSK in Uganda says , “whilst huge progress has been made in recent years to understand and combat infectious diseases, more work needs to be done to tackle the growing health concern presented by NCDs in Uganda and across Sub-Saharan Africa.”

In 2014, NCDs were estimated to account for over one quarter (27%) of total deaths in Uganda, and across the country the probability of dying at a young age from an NCD is 21%.NCDs cause over half of all reported adult deaths in some African countries, suggesting that NCDs could become leading cause of health issues, disability and premature death.