Should independent legislators be kicked out of Parliament? That's what opposition political parties are recommending.
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2 years ago .
As it happened: Uganda Today - Thursday February 21
Pope Francis will not come to Uganda for the climax of the Golden Jubilee celebration of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) in July.


Presented by Joseph Kizza







  Good evening

Off for an evening run! We meet again tomorrow :)

Scroll down for earlier stories






Pope not coming to Uganda in July

Pope Francis was in Uganda in November 2015, but it won't be a second visit this time around.

The Uganda Episcopal Conference has released a statement confirming that the pontiff will not be back to the Pearl of Africa later this year to attend the Golden Jubilee of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).


Last year, the Uganda Episcopal Conference, on behalf of SECAM, requested President Yoweri Museveni to invite the Pope for the July celebration.

"The office of the President of Uganda has officially communicated to the Uganda Episcopal Conference that the Holy Father will not be able to attend the Symposium," says the statement.

But the celebration, which was launched on July 29 last year at Rubaga Cathedral, will go ahead as planned. The opening Mass for the climax will be on July 23 at Rubaga Cathedral and the closing one on July 28 at Uganda Martyrs Catholic Shrine in Namugongo.

"We are expecting over 400 bishops from all the Episcopal Conferences in Africa and Madagascar," says the statement, signed off by Msgr. John B. Kauta, the secretary general.

The celebration is themed: Church, Family of God in Africa, Celebrated your Jubilee! Proclaim, Meet and Welcome Christ you Saviour.






Pope Francis will not attend SECAM Golden Jubilee in Uganda

The pontiff will not come to Uganda for the climax of the Golden Jubilee celebration of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) in July, the Uganda Episcopal Conference has confirmed.










Details coming up . . .







  Ebola outbreak 'under control' in part of eastern DRC


An Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 500 people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has been brought under control in one major area, the health ministry said late Tuesday.

In a statement, it said there had been no new confirmed cases of Ebola in the Beni area for the past 21 days.

"We can now consider that the Ebola epidemic is currently under control in Beni," it said, describing this as "major progress".

The deadly haemorrhagic virus broke out last August 8 in the North Kivu region, which borders Uganda and Rwanda.

Beni, a zone that includes a city of that name, accounts for 118 fatalities.

The ministry cautioned that the Beni area faced the risk of a further infections from neighbouring areas, notably Butembo and Katwa, where 74 cases of Ebola had been recorded in last three weeks.

The ministry said it had recorded a total of 844 cases of Ebola, comprising 779 laboratory-confirmed and 65 probable cases. Of the 844, 528 deaths had resulted.

The epidemic can only be declared over when the country has not recorded any new case of Ebola for 42 consecutive days.

International health experts are helping the DRC but efforts are being hampered by violence in the region, where militia groups are rampant.






Three men claim paternity of two children

Vision Group's Abu Batuusa:

Three men in Nansana claiming paternity of two children -  a boy and a girl - have settled for a decision to take DNA tests to establishe the real biological link.




John Bukenya says the two children are his. Stephen Nsubuga claims he is the father of the girl. The other man, only named Shadrach, maintains that the boy is his child.

The three were taken to the office of the minister of state for youth and children affairs, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, on Thursday to resolve the matter. They were taken by the DPC of Nansana, Bernard Katwalo, who handed them over to the minister.

On her part, Nakiwala urged them to remain calm and to accept whatever results that will have emerged from the DNA tests.

The truth shall soon emerge.







As usual, allow me to wish you a good lunch. Guten Appetit :)






  A local attraction

VROOOM! The Beast has landed!





Ministry wants companies to employ certified workers


New Vision's Martin Kitubi:

The Ministry of Education and Sports has recommended that all artisans and casual labourers working both in the formal and informal sector be certified for their respective skills. The move, according to the minstry, will enable employers to know the competencies and skills of their employees as opposed to employment without prior testing.

In addition, the move will also allow Ugandans to competitively seek jobs and contracts from companies and institutions, including those in the oil and gas sector.

The move targets assessment of professionals such as electrical and mechanical engineers, front desk managers (receptionists), catering and computer scientist among others. After assessment, learners would be issued with certificates of competence, which assures that someone has the said skill, and that they are certified. Assessment will be conducted with the help of professionals and experts drawn from industries, institutions and employers in the country.

Patrick Byakatonda, the acting director at Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT), says the proposal is enshrined in the DIT Strategic Plan, the BTVET Strategic Plan and the Skilling Uganda project, which all focus on assessment and accreditation.

"Employers need to ascertain what skills their workers have. This would guarantee security and quality work."






Constructing classroom blocks in Kamuli

Meanwhile, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, is in Kamuli district for the ground-breaking ceremony for the building of classrooms at Nakandulo Primary School in Magogo subcounty.

The project is funded by Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd (UEGCL). 






Building an international hospital in Lubowa


Happening now . . .

The finance ministry is seeking Parliament's approval, through the national economy committee, to issue a promissory note to FINASI/ROKO construction company worth sh1.3trillion to construct an international specialised hospital in Lubowa.

Health minister Jane Ruth Aceng and David Bahati, the State Minister of Finance for Planning, are present.









  Should independent MPs be kicked out of Parliament?

Here is what you are saying on our Facebook page . . .

Wokorach Samuel: Independents are selfish people with no directions and agenda. I would suggest giving them a time frame on which one can be independent when they come to parliament. They should stay but with a time limit for them to cross to a party of their interests when their time is out. How can one come to parliament and be independent for the whole of his term?

Kasami Samuel: The real ones should stay but the leaning ones should go.

Miiro Yasin: This is amove to kill opposition cuz those independents who can't fit in the existing parties will form theirs leading too many smaller groups

Kulo Charles: Why would one be independent in a multi party shows individual tendencies and selfish interests. Ugandans were not ready for multi party democracy.

(Join the conversation below)





  The Beast draws crowds in Ishaka

On a quest to complete its longest test drive, the Ugandan-made Kiira EVS has touched base in Ishaka town, western Uganda.

And what attention it has drawn from the locals, whose curiosity has attracted them to the sleek car!













Kooki unveils plans to restore traditional counties


New Vision's Davis Buyondo:

The administration of Kooki cultural institution has unveiled plans to restore the three traditional counties in a bid to extend effective services to its people. The counties to revive include Mayango, Bulaga and Ddungu, said to have slipped into hibernation several decades ago.

According to Moses Luyima, who heads Kooki's research desk and palace operations, there was a gap in the administrative structures due to the inactive county departments.

When revived, Luyima explained that the county departments will handle lower administrative matters to relieve the prime minister of the overwhelming workload.

Al-hajji Idi Ahmed Kiwanuka, the Kooki prime minister, told New Vision that they hope to re-launch the counties at the 15th coronation anniversary of the Kamuswaga, Apollo Ssansa Kabumbuli II.

On Friday last week at an event in Lwanda, Kooki, the Kamuswaga (pictured) said the idea to restore the three counties was long overdue. He said they have well structured plans to establish the counties and appoint their heads.

Samson Kakembo, a historian and researcher, said that Kooki had its counties long before the colonial administration. 






Wasajja back at land probe

Prince David Wasajja, the brother of Buganda king Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, has reappeared before the land probe at the Uganda National Records Centre and Archives in Kampala.






  Kawolo Hospital extreme makeover nearly complete

Official handover of the health facilty located in Lugazi is set for April. The health ministry says 93% of the renovation and expansion works is done.

But even before April, some facilities are already in operation "due to high demand".





PWDs make fresh demands

New Vision's Paul Kiwuuwa:

Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) have petitioned Parliament to review a new Bill seeking to safeguard their welfare so that it includes people living with albinism. The changes in the Bill, according to the petitioners, will allow people living with albinisms (PLWA) to elect their leaders at all levels as a constituency under PWDs.


The PWDs Bill, 2018, introduced to Parliament for first reading by gender state minister Peace Mutuuzo last month, is under scrutiny by the Parliament committee on gender, chaired by Alex Ndeezi.

Led by their chairperson, Mpima Bumali, PWDs under their umbrella body National Union of the Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), said the current law on electing PWDs does not recognise PLWA, survivors of psychiatry, epileptic, little People of Uganda, yet they are also part of the PWDs.

NUDIPU acting director Esther Kyozira demanded that schedule six of the PWDs 2018 Bill should be revised to include all the categories as eligible to contest for leadership positions.

They also want the Government to exempt taxes charged on imported cars for PWDs. The executive director of the Uganda Albinos Association, Jude Ssebyanzi, said the Bill should provide for medical treatment for the skin, hair and eyes for PLWA.






  UGANDA PREMIER LEAGUE: Today's fixtures

Action in the StarTimes Uganda Premier League resumes today. A menu of four games, including an early kick-off involving table-toppers KCCA FC is what you should look out for.

Police vs  KCCA
Express vs Maroons
Paidha Black Angels vs     Nyamityobora
URA vs Kirinya Jinja SSS





  Here is what happened in the Premier League on Wednesday

The three matches played Wednesday evening produced an aggregate goal galore - 12 altogether. But it was not a balanced affair in the goal factory as more than half of this lot were produced from the Arena of Visions, where hosts Ndejje University FC edged Tooro United FC in a seven-goal thriller.

At Kakyeka Stadium in Mbarara, home side Mbarara City FC allowed Onduparaka FC to claw back in the game and take home three points. And at FUFA Technical Centre in Njeru, BUL FC denied visitors SC Villa the maximum points in a 1-1 result.

(Read the breakdown of the games here)








Rapper Gravity Omutujju shot at, three arrested

New Vision's Simon Masaba:

Police have arrested three suspects in the shooting of a local artist, Gereson Wabuyi, better known by his stage name Gravity Omutujju, in Bukuya, Kasanda district.

The 25-year-old is nursing bullet wounds at a hospital in Kampala. He has since recorded a statement with Police about what transpired.


Security sources say the musician was referred to Mulago National Referral Hospital, but he apparently preferred a different medical facility not known to Police at the moment.

The Wamala region Police spokesperson, Nobert Ochom, confirmed the arrest of Amos Muhebwa, a private security guard attached to the 1980 Kabalega War  Veterans Association security group.

Without divulging the identities of the two other suspects, Ochom said they are under interrogation. What is known though is that the duo are pump attendants at the fueling station where the incident happened.

According to Ochom, the incident happened at LK petrol station in Bukuya sub-county in Kasanda. Explaining the incident, Ochom said the shooting happened at 9:45 pm Wednesday night.

Kasanda Police is investigating a case of attempted murder by shooting to the prejudice of Wabuyi (Gravity Omutujju), a resident of Munyonyo in Makindye division.

(Read for story here)





Opposition wants independent MPs kicked out of Parliament

New Vision's Apollo Mubiru & Peninah Nyangoma:


Independent candidates should be struck out in the coming polls, opposition political parties have recommended.

The Opposition is also against the creation of the position for ‘dean of independents' in Parliament, arguing that such a post had no basis in a multiparty democracy. According to the Constitution Amendment Bill 2019 before Parliament, tabled by Busiro East MP Medard Sseggona, the Bill seeks to introduce a position of dean of independents in Parliament with a five-year tenure.

Of the 433 MPs of the 10th Parliament, NRM enjoys a numerical strength of 302 followed by 67 independents, Forum for Democratic Change (36), Democratic Party (17), Uganda People's Congress (7) and JEEMA (1). The Conservative Party deputy secretary general, Alfred Kasozi, said independent candidates were always aggrieved and undisciplined members of the party who should not be allowed to contest after losing at party primaries.

Kasozi was speaking yesterday during a meeting convened by the Electoral Commission (EC) and National Consultative Forum for Political Parties on the Bill at Bugolobi Royal Suites in Kampala.







  The Beast on countrywide tour

It's the third day of the 1,600km test drive of a Ugandan-made car, the Kiira EVS.







The Police has called for law enforcement officers to acquire advanced skills so as to handle rampant drug trafficking.






  AROUND THE CONTINENT: Inter-bank forex market in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's central bank on Wednesday said it was introducing a new interbank foreign exchange system, effectively devaluing its quasi-currency which had been officially pegged at par with the US dollar.

"We have provided a formal way of trading in foreign currency," Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya said as he announced new monetary policy measures aimed at addressing a perennial foreign currency crunch.

"We have basically formalised what is happening. We have basically ensured that no one goes to buy currency from the parallel market.

"The inter-bank exchange system will have significant positive effects on the economy's external and fiscal sectors, domestic production and on the welfare of citizens," he said.

The local bond -- introduced two years ago to address a cash shortage -- will be a tradable domestic currency alongside the greenback, South African rand and a host of other foreign currencies adopted in 2009 after hyperinflation rendered the local Zimbabwe dollar unusable.

The new policy in essence devalues the local bond note -- the quasi-currency which exists in note and electronic form known as RTGS (real time gross settlement) -- introduced in 2016 by ousted leader Robert Mugabe to address cash shortages.

It had been pegged at 1:1 against the US dollar while the parallel market rate was much higher.

'Euphemism for Zimbabwe dollars'


The central bank said formalising trading of "RTGS balances and bond notes with USD and other currencies" on a "willing-buyer willing-seller basis through banks and bureaux de change" would bring stability to the market.

Mangudya (pictured) expressed hope that the new measures will help encourage RTGS electronic payments for domestic transaction and get rid of multi-tier pricing system which has seen goods and services priced in US$, bond note or RTGS.

However Derek Matyszak, a researcher with the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, says that RTGS is "phantom money".

"It is printing of money electronically," he told a recent seminar in Johannesburg. It doesn't exist".

Former economic planning minister and opposition politician, Tapiwa Mashakada said that authorities' pushing of the RTGS is a "clever" way of re-introducing a domestic currency.

"This is a Zimbabwe dollar by any means. Zimbabwe now has a sovereign currency called 'RTGS dollar' which is a euphemism for Zimbabwe dollars. It's like saying you eat bacon but not pork," said Mashakada.

"The domestic currency has bounced back without addressing the key fundamentals," he said.

Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn for more than a decade with high inflation and cash shortages which forced banks to put a ceiling on withdrawals as depositors spent long hours queueing to withdraw cash.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from long-time ruler Mugabe following a brief military takeover in 2017, has vowed to revive the country's moribund economy.

In October finance minister Mthuli Ncube introduced a two percent tax on all electronic transactions, triggering price hikes and shortages of fuel and basic commodities like bread and cooking oil.

In January, Mnangagwa announced a more than 100 percent hike in the prices of fuel.

The move sparked countrywide protests which left at least 17 people dead after soldiers were deployed to crush the protests.

Independent economist John Robertson said the new monetary policy was "a good move".

"The government has decided to let the market decide the exchange rate," Robertson told AFP.

"It's possible the exchange rate will stabilise. There has been little certainty. This is a good start but there are many more things to be done."







  AROUND THE CONTINENT: 8 jihadists killed in Sinai, says Egypt army


The International Criminal Court in The Hague said Wednesday it will combine the cases of two ex-militiamen, including senior football official Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona (pictured), for war crimes allegedly committed in the Central African Republic (CAR).


Ngaissona and Alfred Yekatom stand accused over murders, torture, enlistment of child soldiers, and other war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed as civil war engulfed the CAR 2013 and 2014.

"In the Chamber's view, joint proceedings against Mr Yekatom and Mr Ngaissona will serve to enhance the fairness and expeditiousness of the proceedings by avoiding the duplication of evidence, inconsistency in the presentation and assessment of evidence, undue impact on witnesses and victims, and unnecessary expense," a court statement said.

Ngaissona, a former CAR sports minister who sits on the board of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), is charged with coordinating so-called anti-Balaka militia which emerged after civil war broke out in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2013.

The head of the CAR football association was arrested in France on December 12 on an ICC warrant, and extradited to The Hague in January.

The Balaka militia he was allegedly involved with were set up to defend Christian communities from mostly Muslim rebels during the conflict in his country.

The militia are accused of a host of human rights abuses including mass killings and mutilations.

Yekatom, also known as Colonel Rambo, faces 14 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, mutilation, torture, cruel treatment and recruiting child soldiers into his so-called anti-Balaka militia group.

The group is accused of attacks on Muslims between December 2013 and August 2014.

A hearing will be held on June 18 to confirm charges against the men, one of the final steps before a trial can be held, the ICC statement said. 







   AROUND THE CONTINENT: Official on Sudan demos crackdown


A top US official warned Wednesday that the "excessive violence" used by Sudanese security forces to quell anti-government protests could threaten talks to remove Sudan from Washington's state sponsors of terrorism list.

Deadly protests have rocked Sudan since December 19 after a government decision to triple the price of bread.

"It is absolutely unacceptable for security forces to use excessive violence to crack down on demonstrators, to use detention without charge, certainly unacceptable to use brutality, torture .. and needless to say there's no reason anyone should be killed," said Cyril Sartor (pictured immediately below), senior director for Africa at the US National Security Council.


The US-Sudan negotiating process "which could eventually lead to the lifting of state sponsors of terrorism designation... is being threatened by the current developments", Sartor told AFP in an interview at the end of a four-day visit to Khartoum.

The protests since December quickly escalated into nationwide rallies against President Omar al-Bashir's government, with demonstrators chanting their catchcry of "freedom, peace, justice".

Officials say 31 people have died in two months of protest-related violence, while Bashir, who swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, has remained defiant.

Human Rights Watch says at least 51 people have been killed, and hundreds jailed in a widespread crackdown by security forces on protesters, opposition leaders, activists and journalists.

In October 2017, the United States lifted its trade embargo imposed on Sudan in 1997 for alleged links to Islamist groups.

Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden lived in Sudan between 1992 to 1996.

Despite lifting the embargo, Washington has kept Sudan on its list of alleged state sponsors of terrorism along with Iran, Syria and North Korea.



'Clear message'

Ties between the two countries improved during the adminstration of former US president Barack Obama.

They are now negotiating on the process to remove Sudan from the blacklist, seen as a major obstacle to the African country's economic recovery.

Bashir has blamed the United States for Sudan's economic woes, insisting the embargo coupled with the terrorism listing kept international businesses away from Sudan.

For Sudan to be removed from the US blacklist, it has to meet certain benchmarks set by Washington, which include protecting human rights and allowing freedom of expression and religion.

Sartor acknowledged that Sudan's increased cooperation in countering terrorism in the region has helped boost the talks, but the negotiations could still be derailed unless Sudanese authorities rein in the crackdown on dissent.

"We have been quite clear, quite explicit ... with all the government leaders that I have met with that the current conditions in Sudan and the overreaction of the security forces in particular put the talks at risk," said Sartor.

"There can be no confusion about our message, about the sincerity of this view from senior leadership in Washington," he said as he called on Khartoum to release all political prisoners.

"Holding them only impedes the process of dialogue."

Critics say Washington's response to the crackdown had been mild so far, charging it had failed to take a stand on the protest movement.


'No outside solution'

Sartor said it was not up to the United States to offer a solution to Sudan's political crisis. "In fact no outside force can impose a solution," he said.

"What we are witnessing is all about the people of Sudan who are seeking to have their voice, to have their views, to have their concerns injected into the political dialogue," said the US official.

"So, this is all about the people of Sudan finding a way to get to a solution."

Sartor said the United States wanted the talks on the blacklist to succeed, which would then encourage global financial institutions to come to Sudan.

"We are not at a stage of halting talks," he said. But he warned that the process could stop "abruptly".

"It is imperative that the government stop reacting with the tactics that it has been using to deal with the current situation," Sartor said.

"That's a deal breaker. But we will try in every way we can to work together."







  AROUND THE CONTINENT: 8 jihadists killed in Sinai, says Egypt army



Egypt's military said Wednesday that eight suspected jihadists who had taken part in a deadly attack on an army checkpoint last week were killed in the restive North Sinai.

"Eight extremely dangerous terrorists have been eliminated," army spokesman Tamer el-Refai said in a statement, adding that security forces had also destroyed their hideouts and seized ammunition.

An attack Saturday on a checkpoint near the town of El-Arish, claimed by the Islamic State group, left 15 soldiers dead or wounded, according to the army.

The interior ministry said Tuesday that 16 suspected jihadists had also been killed.

Since the army's overthrow of elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, hundreds of soldiers and police have died in attacks by extremist groups.

Civilians have also been targeted in jihadist attacks, particularly members of Egypt's minority Coptic Christian community.

Egypt's army launched a major operation against the jihadists in early 2018, originally scheduled to run three months, after an attack in North Sinai killed more than 300 people at a mosque.

The army says more than 550 suspected jihadists have been killed in its "Sinai 2018" offensive -- which has also targeted militants elsewhere in Egypt -- costing the lives of more than 30 soldiers.

No independent figures are available and North Sinai is largely cut off to media and foreigners.






  AROUND THE CONTINENT: Nigerian army on vote-rigging



Nigeria's army chief warned officers Wednesday to be loyal and "deal decisively" with vote-rigging, speaking at a meeting of senior army staff in the capital Abuja ahead of weekend elections.

"Commanders must deal decisively with any electoral crime or action," said Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, reminding them of the importance of "loyalty to constituted authority."

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was quick to condemn the remarks, warning the army against supporting the interests of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Kola Ologbondiyan, a spokesman for opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar, said in a statement that Buratai's "threats" were a "recipe for crisis".

Buratai's comments came amid rising tensions in Nigeria after the electoral commission delayed presidential and parliamentary elections just hours before polls were due to open on February 16.

The decision sparked widespread anger, and the two main political parties have blamed each other for the delay, warning of a conspiracy to rig the vote.

At an emergency meeting of the APC in Abuja on Monday, President Muhammadu Buhari said he had ordered the military and police to be "ruthless" with vote-riggers.

"Anybody who decides to snatch (ballot) boxes or use thugs to disturb it (the vote), maybe this will be the last unlawful action he will take," he said.


Buhari's comments sparked criticism from the opposition that he was encouraging violence.

Opposition challenger Abubakar, a former vice president, said the president's warning was a "painful reminder of the era of dictatorship and military rule".

Speaking at an emergency meeting of the PDP, he said military commanders and officers are "not bound to execute orders that are manifestly unlawful."

At the expanded meeting of army staff officers and commanders, Buratai seemed to allude to Abubakar's comments, condemning "persons aspiring to rule this country (of) inciting the army to disobedience."

"Direct and public incitement of the Nigerian military against democracy and civil authority will not be tolerated," Buratai warned.

The army chief also said there would be no military escort for politicians on election day, and warned army staff to "stay clear" of politicians until after the elections.

Some 84 million Nigerians are registered to cast their ballots on Saturday.






  Around the continent

And what's going on beyond our borders, you may be wondering. Let me pick out a few of the top stories in Africa.





What happened on Wednesday?

Plenty of stuff.

For example, a five-day induction retreat for newly-elected resident district officers (RDCs) got underway in Kyankwanzi . . .




. . . while Ugandan-made car Kiira EVS cruised on the roads of curvy Kabale on its longest test drive . . .



. . .  plus much more.

Catch up on how Wednesday transpired by heading to this page >> HERE






Three inspirational quotes for you

Yes, three today.

Considering that rain tends to dampen spirits, I thought I should inspire a dollop of motivation in you - threefold . . .


"Calmness is the cradle of power." — Josiah Gilbert Holland

"Set peace of mind as your highest goal, and organize your life around it." — Brian Tracy

"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another." — William James






Good [wet] morning

We may have had a downpour this morning but that does not mean we shouldn't hop out of our beds.

So, out you go!

Are you well? Sure hope you are. Good morning, good people :)