Monday, November 24, 2008

Bunyoro king blames colonialists for the current conflicts in Africa.

By Julius Kyamanywa

The currents conflicts facing the African continent are due to the divisive policies that were designed by the former colonial masters according to Omukama of Bunyoro, Solomon Gafabusa Iguru. Iguru, while officiating at a Symposium for the Banyoro in the Diaspora at the Uganda Museum gardens on Sunday said the poor land policies by the whites were divisive.

“They designed policies that deprive Africans of their rights. The mile land policy was aimed at causing division and conflicts.” Iguru said.

He cited conflicts in Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo as outcomes of the divisive policies designed by the former colonialists to keep Africa divided. He said Development will elude Africa unless they all unite. He advised Banyoro to be the first people to unite Ugandans by inviting neighbors.

Iguru also attributed the escalating tribal wrangles and clashes over land on these poor policies by the colonialists. He said efforts must be made to fight colonialism in Africa.

“The Banyole are being abused. They are still under the mile land policy”, he said adding that members of Parliament had done nothing to avert this unfairness. Birahwa Mukitale (Buliisa), Marble Bakaine (Bugangaizi) and Barnabas Tinkasiimire were the MPs present at the function.

The symposium was organized by the Banyoro living outside Bunyoro to brainstorm on the Bunyoro-Kitara Strategic Plan for Social Economic Development.

Others at the function were Kingdom Premier, Kiiza Alibankoha, deputy premier Eng. Yabezi Kiiza and the former Kingdom premier Israel Ndahura.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kabakumba could not implicate Minister Mbabazi.

By Julius Kyamanywa

Even if the NRM Chief Whip, Kabakumba Labwoni Masiko was in any opposition party, she could not have implicated Security Minister Amama Mbabazi in the recently “concluded” NSSF-Temangalo land saga because she has a similar case to handle.

Many people think Kabakumba gave “the necessary support” to Mbabazi because he (Mbabazi) is at a higher level in the leadership ladder of the NRM Party ranks and perhaps because they are both ministers.

This is a precious moment for those who did not know that the Chief Whip is also embroiled in a land scandal in Bujenje, a constituency she represents in parliament. She bought over 200 acres of land and over 280 families are sleeping under fears of being evicted any time by the princess. Maybe, Mrs Masiko should count herself lucky that there wasn’t any one to give a political blessing to her land scandal like Muhwezi and Banyenzaki did in the Mbabazi case.

Let me first give the light of how Kabakumba supported Security Minister Amama Mbabazi to sway successfully through a scandal that looked to threaten his political career.

On Tuesday, 7th. October, a time when investigations into the alleged influence peddling by the Mbabazi were going on, Kabakumba is reported to have surrendered her parliamentary office to be used as a venue for a meeting between her party Secretary General and 12 of the 14 NRM members on the parliamentary committee that was investigating Mbabazi. It was the same members who came up with a Minority report that is said to have exonerated the Minister.

The clear similarity between the ministers in the face of the scandals is that they both have tenants who are being threaten with eviction or have not been compensated.

During the NSSF-Temangalo investigation, five of the 13 families that appeared before the NSSF probe committee were on the land that Mbabazi sold. The families were crying for help that they had not been compensated yet they were bona-fide occupants on the 463 acres that NSSF bought. Mbabazi said he had been in touch with the tenants and had assured them that their matter would be handled to their satisfaction, a thing the tenants denied.

Influence peddling and use of political offices in making things move is not a perquisite of Mbabazi but also others like Kabakumba as well. She has been accused of using her position in buying the Bujenje Estate, a thing she has consistently denied.

As I said above, over 280 families in Bujenje County, which Kabakumba represents in parliament, are crying over a planned eviction by the chief whip. The minister claims to have bought over 200 acres of land that the residents say have lived on for more than 10 years. The affected residents are the villages of Ikoba, Bihanga and Kityedo. Kabakumba has reportedly issued these tenants with eviction notices on top of stopping them from constructing permanent houses and growing perennial crops.

Well, Kabakumba has for several times to explain to the people through the local media, particularly radio Kitara that she bought the land genuinely but her words have not been taken to the bottom of the innocent tenants. Many blame the Whip for having used her political office to influence the sale of the land to her. Her critics add that as a representative of the people in the Constituency, Kabakumba did not tell her subjects that custodian board was selling the land. They say she used her advantage, as a member of parliament to buy the land without informing the tenants, who say would have bought it.

I think Kabakumba realised that her resilience would not yield political fruits in the next election and she has decided to change the approach. She has reportedly encouraged the tenants to buy the land from her at a customer friendly price. She seem to have foreseen the political outcome if maintained the original line, with the outcome of the 2006 parliamentary elections still in her mind. Kabakumba nearly lost little known Robert Giffen Kamulindwa who was on an independent ticket. Kamulindwa won in Kabakumba’s home sub county of Bwijanga.

At all costs, the Chief Whip, whether in the ruling party or not, as a minister or not would have done all possible to say any one facing a similar scandal since she knows how sweet it tastes.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lukyamuzi cautions government on oil exploration

By Julius Kyamanywa.

Conservative Party president John Ken Lukyamuzi has cautioned government against rushing to explore the recently discovered oil deposits near lake Albert saying it would pose serious environmental threats to Uganda and the region at large.

“I would like to advise Uganda to post pone the oil exploration since the environmental impact of the exploration may extend to our neighboring countries”, Lukyamuzi said.

Lukyamuzi, a re-known environmental activist made the caution on Thursday at Makerere University while presenting a paper on Environment and Millennium Development Goals: the nexus between poverty, environment and development. He said building an oil refinery at Kabwoya in Hoima district would have several environmental effects, not only on Uganda but also to the neighboring countries of DRC and Rwanda since we are in a global village. He said building a refinery at Kabwoya, which is a reserve, would also affect the ecological order of Lake Albert and Kyoga.

Lukyamuzi attacked government for insisting on the use of DDT top fight malaria instead of other environmental friendly measures like insecticide treated mosquito nets. He cited Oyam district where DDT was sprayed adding that this is a deliberate policy by the president to bring to an end all people of northern Uganda.

“ This man has a program of wiping you out in the North. If Kony did not wipe you and this man wants to, why don’t you come up?”, Lukyamuzi said causing laughter.

Lukyamuzi regretted that National Environment Authority (NEMA) had recommended BIDCO to use over 7000 hectares, a factor that has caused decline of water levels at Lake Victoria.

Uganda expects to reach fully-fledged oil production in the next five years following oil exploration results in the Lake Albert Valley. Tullow Oil Company is in the process of setting up a small oil refinery that will initially produce around 4,000 barrels of oil a day. By 2009 Uganda expects to produce between 40,000 and 60,000 barrels of oil a day. Government has already passed oil and gas policy which provides a regulatory framework for the exploitation of oil and gas resources. Up to $5 billion is required to establish a Petroleum Authority of Uganda and a National Oil Company. Last year, Tullow Oil said it would have invested up to $300 million by the time it starts oil production in the middle of 2009.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Makerere to continue charging Technology and Development fees.

By Julius Kyamanywa

Makerere University at the opening of this semester in mid August introduced new fees. The university introduced sh. 123,000 and sh. 50,000 as Technology and Development fees respectively. The tuition fees for a degree in Bachelors of Commerce were increased by 100%, from sh.500, 000 to sh. 1,000,000 a year and accommodation fees for students residing in the Halls of residence were raised from sh.340, 000 to sh. 460,000 a semester.

Whereas the accommodation fees seems reasonable to some commentators because of the increase in the cost of living in Kampala, especially the cost of food, the Technology and Development fees appear a contentious issue and many have come up to question the way, procedure and process the decision was arrived at. Key among the critics of the fees is students and their leaders at the university. The student leaders argue that the new development fee is duplication since students are already paying sh.20, 000 as Library fees.

Government was also affected in this respect since it had to pay for its sponsored students. On 16th.August, the Minister of Education, in-charge of higher Education, Gabriel Opio ordered the University Administration to stop charging Government Student this money saying that the government would cater for in its subvention to the University. The University had issued Admission letters to Government sponsored students indicating that their parents were meant to pay this money. The admissions letters were withdrawn and redesigned. Since then, fliers have been seen around the University calling on all Government Students who had paid to go and get their money back.

On Wednesday, 10th September police dispersed a group of students who organized a press conference at the University Guild Canteen. The press conference was meant to announce the students’ plan to stage to stage a two-day sit down strike in protest of the Technology and Development fees.

Under their umbrella, Makerere University Concerned Students Association, the students on Thursday 11thSeptember presented a petition to the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga calling for parliament’s intervention to compel the Council to reverse the policy. The Deputy speaker handed over the petition to the parliamentary committee on Social Services to look into it.

While addressing a press conference at the university on Friday 12th, September, the Dean of students, John Ekudu said the university Librarian had earlier on explained to some students what the money would be used for. He said the students who the administration met came under the Uganda Young Democrats (UYD) umbrella.
Ekudu added that they as Implementers had less to do regarding this matter and the council as the policy maker reserved the right to uphold or reverse any decision.

The university Guild President, Rutaro Robert expressed concern over the fees that according to him were passed without consultation from the student leadership.

“We are dissatisfied with the amount that is being charged on us. This money and policy were discussed before we came into office”, Rutaro said.
He added that his Guild Cabinet had requested the Government and the university council to stop charging this money. Rutaro did not rule out the possibility of a boycott if the council insisted on the policy.
Rutaro said the student Guild was sorting out the issues with the Government and the university council who he said were “responding positively”.

The University Legal Adviser, Godfrey Muhumuza said the new fees are not duplication since this was a new development coming in place. He said the council saw it necessary to levy such fees since the services are needed.

“These services are ‘inevitable’. This issue has been long overdue”, he said.
Muhumuza said the council has authority to decide when to levy new fees without necessarily consulting students first.
“Fees is not an agreement between the Council with the students”, he said.

The university administration, in a letter dated 11th. September and pinned on all notice boards warned students against getting involved in what they described as “acts of hooliganism being promoted by the so called concerned students association” saying the association is not registered with the university: an illegal creation of some students being used by certain political parties. The letter further warned students of disciplinary action for whoever shall indulge in such acts.

However, the leader of the Makerere University Concerned Students Association, Jjagwe George believes that the University administration is just using such warnings as a way of intimidating students to divert them from the issue. Jjagwe says he will not be scared by threats of “disciplinary action”.
“If people can die, what about loosing a degree?”, Jjagwe wondered.

According to Jjagwe, the Constitution of Uganda under article 29 give every citizen a right to associate in any form and therefore it does not call for any registration to exercise a right. He denied allegations that certain opposition politicians in the city were using them. He said the newly dubbed Technology fee is the same fee that was rejected last year as ICT fee, adding that the change of name of the fee is meant to confuse Ugandans.

A source close in the Guild Cabinet say the university council has a list of ten students, whom it has earmarked for disciplinary action in case of any uprising.

The meeting between University student leaders, University Council chairman Mathew Rukikaire on Wednesday 17th.September did not yield fruits for the students. The chairman said there was no way the policy could be reversed since the whole council agreed it on. He however said arrangements would be made to allow payments is made in two semesters.

Mr. Rukikaire said students should not complain because Makerere is the cheapest university in Uganda. He wondered why students were complaining about such small fees yet they are given quality education.

“Where else in Uganda would you get top quality education like here at a cheap price?” Rukikaire asked.

Mr. Rukikaire told the students that the meeting would not change anything but would only help to harmonize the situation. He wondered why the students had opted to go to parliament yet it is common knowledge that it was parliament that gave powers to make policies. He said students would have petitioned the university council or the Ministry of Education instead of parliament.

In August 2006, Carnegie Corporation of New York announced a competitive of 2.5 million US Dollars to develop a model University Library in Sub-Saharan Africa and Makerere University Library joined the competition. According to the Administration, Makerere University Library’s “proposal was the best amongst the various University Library submissions”.
As a prerequisite for the grant, Makerere University Library had, among others to increase the bandwidth to be able to accommodate the increased ICT facilities. The newly introduced technology is meant to fulfill this requirement so as to secure the grant.
According to the University, the proposed 2.5M USD Library would increase ICT infrastructure by 100%, procure 580 computers that would change the current user ratio from 1:225 to 1:42.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ugandans unleash their long-held disgust for Csaba.

By Julius Kyamanywa.
Saturday, 17th May 2008 will be yet another day for Ugandan soccer fans to recall. Having gone down to the Kilimanjaro stars of Tanzania two weeks before, Uganda Cranes was at it again, moreover at its home ground. Ugandan hopes were brought to life by Geofrey Serunkuma's a first half goal but still a hurdle was on to skip over. One thing to remember is that Uganda Cranes went into this game knowing that they needed three goals to proceed to the next round where they were to meet either Sudan, the CECAFA senior challenge cup Champions or Rwanda, their long time soccer rival.