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The Curse Of Uganda: Thieving Political Class, Thieving Police And A Thieving Population

President Museveni decorates IGP Kayihura for great service to the country

President Yoweri Museveni is a very skilled politician and he doesn’t say or write things without thinking seriously about them. On Sunday evening, while launching Uganda’s Golden Jubilee celebrations at the Kampala Serena Hotel, Museveni gave a spirited defense of the Police Force, which lately has come under fire for human rights abuses with some people describing the force as brutal and roguish.

Museveni said the Uganda Police under General Kale Kayihura is a very professional force and describing them as human rights abusers is a ‘bogus assessment.’

Museveni then said the police are a mirror of the general society. He declared; ‘You cannot have an indisciplined political class and expect the police to be disciplined and if there are human rights groups who do not balance their judgment of the police, then they are bogus and useless.’

Museveni is most definitely right. Politicians in this country set the trends. We have very few other role models that Ugandans want to emulate and one journalist once said that politics is Uganda’s cash crop. If you want to get rich quick, join politics.

Everyone learns from our politicians and our policemen, like the rest of Ugandans learn from the political class. After all it’s the politicians, not the policemen or the teachers, who have a vision for this country.

Therefore if the politicians are misbehaving be rest assured, the rest of the population are learning and imitating.

If the political class is stealing, then everyone else in Uganda will start stealing. We learn from the best, that’s for sure.

If you accept that its okay for senior politicians to pass on bribes to Members of Parliament (fellow politicians) to alter the Constitution of the Republic to remove presidential term limits and therefore stay in power longer, you cannot fault female students at Makerere University who bribe lecturers with sex to get higher marks.

TOUGH? IGP Kayihura grabs a uniformed and hand-cuffed policeman by the throat

You also cannot fault the traffic policemen for taking ‘kitu kidogo’ from erring motorists instead of having them charged in court, or the prosecutors for receiving payments from suspects and preferring weak charges.

If the politicians are stealing and skimming, the rest of the population will be stealing and skimming, it is very unfair for activists to single out one group like the police for blame, activists need to blame the whole society.

Last week, Museveni addressed MPs of his party the NRM at State House Entebbe and criticized some of the MPs for sabotaging government programs and not being patriotic enough. Using a footballing analogy he accused some of his MPs of running to the referee to report a foul committed by a teammate.

According to Museveni, it is right and fitting and very patriotic for Ugandans to keep quiet whenever they see a fellow Ugandan committing a foul, even if it brings the game into disrepute.

Museveni was telling MPs to be good team players but he is also telling them to conceal fouls and dupe the referee all in the name of winning.

Museveni is telling the country to adopt the culture of winning by playing dirty.

That shielding Ugandan criminals and wrong doers from foreigners is a commendable trait that must be adopted by all Ugandans. Fair play has no place in Museveni’s rulebook.

It is for this reason that Museveni finds fault with journalists like Charles Onyango Obbo who he describes as ‘a quisling traitor’ an ‘enemy of the NRM’ and the country because he uses foreign-owned publications to ‘pour venom on the work of the NRM that it is corrupt, it is led by greedy people who cling to power, etc, etc.’

This is now the thinking in government; the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi told a thanks-giving service in Kinkizi in Kanungu district that current leaders should groom the youth to prepare them for the mantle of leadership in the future. This prompted a pal on twitter to remark: “…so if the ‘youth’ are groomed by thieves will things get any better?’

While delivering a speech to mark World Press Freedom Day at Hotel Africana last week, the information Minister Mary Karoro Okurut lambasted Journalists for ‘shaming’ Uganda by highlighting the negative things about Uganda in their writings. She wants journalists to be ‘patriotic’ by highlight only the positives and ignoring those stories that shame Uganda.

It’ll be the new thinking in government; if you highlight the evil in our society, you the messenger are the enemy of society not the evildoer.

According to pronouncements by government officials, journalists, not the corrupt government officials, are the real enemies of Uganda because they chose to highlight corruption scandals bringing only shame to the country. The government faults the reporters but won’t punish the thieving officials who set a terrible example for the other citizens.

So next time the nurse at the hospital asks for some ‘tea’ before assigning you a bed, don’t blame the nurse. She probably learnt this from the senior politicians who pay cash even for votes.

DIRTY MONEY: MP Anywar delighted and shocked Ugandans by returning bribe money

Kitgum Woman MP Beatrice Anywar is a principled lady. Her principles were firmed when she rejected and promptly returned money that was deemed a bribe from the government. Government had stealthily deposited Shs20million onto the accounts of MPs as facilitation to enable them supervise government programs. The 20million was part of an emergency supplementary allocation of Shs602billion shillings that had been passed by a hastily convened house of Parliament in the run up to the last general elections.

According to many MPs the 20 million paid to the MPS was a bribe and a token of appreciation to the MPs for passing a supplementary budget.

According to the IMF officials most of the Shs602billion was splashed on the electoral campaigns by the government.

Anywar returning the bribe money made news and many Ugandan’s were delighted and praised the lady politicians.

But many more Ugandans were stunned that she’s that principled to return money from the government. Some said she was crazy, others said she was stupid. Its like everyone believes that its every citizen’s right to steal from the government and many could not believe how Anywar could possibly return the money to government.

The opposition FDC party issued a directive to their MPs to return the dirty money but many defied the directive yet many of the ‘refuseniks‘ were still re-elected meaning that the population wasn’t outraged by the blatant bribery.

Now according to published reports MP Anywar is being looked at by colleagues in the opposition with a lot of suspicion because to her blossoming friendship with president Museveni. The point of their worry is that considering that the President and the NRM have at their disposal lots of money, Anywar’s colleagues are worried that she will be tempted to receive some of the fat envelopes. Its like everyone expects her to fall for the temptation, receive the envelopes and change her political affiliation. In Uganda, we expect money to move everything, including morals.

Which points to the ethics of Ugandans that Museveni leads. Corruption is the order of the day and no one gets shocked by the many scandals that rock government and no one really gets punished. Therefore Museveni was spot on. You cannot have an indisciplined political class (and make no mistake Museveni was not only talking only about the opposition) in Uganda and expect the police or anyone to be disciplined.

When the full story is finally told in the distant future, this, am afraid, will be one the biggest achievements of this presidency, the commercialization of everything, even morals.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Opinion

 

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After Mutebile, War On Corruption Becomes One Big Joke Which Isn’t Even Funny

President Museveni during NRM celebrations in Kapchorwa

FIGHTER OF CORRUPTION: President Museveni during NRM celebrations in Kapchorwa

On Thursday, January 26 in Kapchorwa, while celebrating NRM’s 26 anniversary and in the presence of two visiting heads of state, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, President Yoweri Museveni declared:

…While we solved the problem of criminality and extra-judicial killings, we still have the problem of corruption in the form of embezzlement of public funds, bribery for officials to process documents and nepotism….This problem of corruption, will be solved as we solved all the other problems…That is my plan – fighting corruption is (a) war.  It needs soldiers.

Today, March 6 barely two months down the road, and after what arguably is the biggest embezzlement scam ever exposed in Uganda’s recent history and over which two ministers have resigned, a cabinet sub committee told Parliament that Bank of Uganda Governor Tumusiime Mutebile, who was faulted in the PAC report, be absolved of all responsibility in the swindle.

This despite all evidence pointing to terminal incompetence, and possible criminal connivance on behalf of the Central Bank Chief, the cabinet Sub Committee agrees with Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee that Mutebile made mistakes just like the ministers who resigned made mistakes.

The sub committee however after meeting the governor himself and the president and then discussing their findings with their pals in the ruling NRM MPs caucus, somehow came to a conclusion that the mistakes committed by the Governor, aren’t as grave and aren’t as suspicion as those of the ministers and therefore absolved him. They didn’t even issue a warning on his future conduct. The sub committee simply said that government had learnt lessons and they will only take it from there.

The government might have learnt some good lessons on how to proceed when big shots are implicated in suspicious deals and so have Ugandans. I have also learnt some lessons.

ONE: That the ninth parliament, despite all the huffing and puffing, is after all as toothless and as gutless as a puppy. They ease with which they rubbished the PAC report, despite the rhetoric late into the night, was simply astonishing.

Its true their recommendations aren’t binding on the president and the executive and it was clear that regardless of what they might have decided to recommend, the president and his executive were just going to ignore them. But by voting to defeat the recommendations of PAC parliament, the MPs chose to be on the wrong side of history. They would have taken a stand and shown the bright light in the fight against corruption but instead they chose to side shielding thieves and those who aid the thieves and those who are suspected of being thieves.

If you had any hopes in this parliament, give up. They might give us some nice sound bites and force out a few fringe thieves, but in the end they won’t do any sustainable justice, the corrupt ones outnumber the noisy ones by far. And what happens in the House under the glare of TV lights, is always rehearsed before in some hall behind closed doors. If Parliament if part of Museveni’s army to fight corruption, he has good soldiers.

TWO: General Tumwine might have famously fired the first shot at the start of the bush war that eventually brought this government to power, and in the house this soft-spoken soldier speaks from the heart and I think he genuinely wants the best for this country. But his words are simply words of a wise old man who lost an eye fighting to change things in Uganda. The times have changed, and whereas everyone single MP keeps quiet and listens attentively when General Tumwine is speaking, his words move no one and they are simply ignored. You get a feeling General Tumwine is swimming against the tide and sits on the wrong side of the house. He has no guns and no bullets to fire he gets applauded but dimly out of respect. He’s a lone ranger who has earned his respect but in the house, only his words are his weapons.

THREE: The war against corruption that the government has fought for, now going into the 27th year, is on but a joke. But it’s not funny. Last week I wrote how Uganda had almost patented the use of the word ‘CORRUPT’. The country is now synonymous with corruption.

This latest episode simply confirms it. They say you are as strong as your weakest link and for 26 years the government has been breeding thieves of all shapes and sizes. It’s just not possible that in the 27th year, they can suddenly start getting rid of the goons they’ve been breeding all along. Corruption in Uganda is now part of us, it’s acceptable, people expect public officials to steal, motorists expect traffic policemen to ask for bribes, no one complains when they pay out bribes. Ministry officials have mastered the art of negotiating kickbacks.

Las Vegas, that swanky city in the US was built on money from gambling, drugs and prostitution, this country has prospered largely on stolen money. Kampala is built with corruption money, sadly most of it is a slum. Corruption is part of our DNA, it’s a way of life. Government, this administration cannot fight corruption without fighting itself. All this talk of fighting corruption is just posturing. The NRM cannot eliminate corruption without eliminating itself. It’s like asking them to chop off their arms and legs.

They may pretend to force thieves to resign but they don’t prosecute them and lock them away to deter others from stealing. The whole war on corruption is cosmetic, its window dressing. And because almost everyone is corrupt, there will be those officials, that the system cannot even touch. Mutebile must be one of them. Touching them would be like opening the Pandora’s box. These, are like those cancerous tumors in your body, which the doctor can detect but advise that they are best left untouched. With time, the tumors will grow and spread across the body and will eventually kill you, but not as quickly as when you try to remove them.

This cancerous tumor that is corruption will eventually overwhelm and kill the regime, it might not be tomorrow but the tumor is growing and spreading and ist getting terminal. The end is written in stone.

 

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2012 in Opinion

 

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REVIEW: Rumblings Of MPs, Tourism Police And The Unending Pain Of Supporting The Cranes

What a week, we’ve had. Last things first.

Bank Of Uganda Governor Tumusiime Mutebile finally spoke out and told the nation what is on his mind, that he will not resign and doesn’t expect President Yoweri Museveni to fire him.

This despite a parliamentary committee resolution that the bearded man be kicked for his role in the scam that cost the country billions. Mutebile’s troubles rotate but are not limited to the UGX169billion compensation to city businessman Hassan Bassajabalaba that was deemed out of this world. Two ministers have already resigned or gotten fired over the scam and Mutebile is the next big fish left swimming in the murky pond.

Ballsy Mutebile used his monthly monitory policy conference, to belittle Parliamentary proceedings as mere ‘rumblings’ and to assure all willing to listen that he is neither insane not incompetent. Mutebile had done his research. According to the constitution (Article 161[5]) the governor can only be dismissed on incompetence and insanity.

Constitution of Uganda: Sacking of Central Bank Governor

Article 161(5) grounds for the firing of the Governor of Central Bank

Mutebile, in a rare king of confidence (some say typical arrogance) said only God can remove him, which makes me wonder if Mutebile thinks he will be Governor for life.

Mutebile scoffed: ‘As you can see, I am not insane, as you can see I am not dishonest, as you can see, am not incompetent and I have not failed to deliver.’

By refusing to quit, Mutebile is adding the pressure on his boss, the president whose administration has been hobbling from crisis to another. And this latest one doesn’t seem like it’s about to end. As I wrote this, the news flash was that Museveni was to meet the members of PAC over Mutebile again, days after it was announced that the NRM caucus was split on what to do to Mutebile.

Ofcourse the MPs aren’t happy that Mutebile described their deliberations as mere ‘rumblings.’ PAC boss Kasiano Wadri hit back and played the tribal card: “What’s so special about this Mukiga, does he think the Baganda ministers who resigned were fools?’

The pressure is surely on; MPs want prove to the nation that theirs aren’t rumblings in vain and playing the tribal card could be the last ace up their sleeves. And Museveni must be realizing the dangers of having in his administration guys he cannot dare dismiss.

TOURIST POLICEMEN?

Uganda Police and the Ministry of Tourism, this week launched a Tourism Police unit to enhance security in the sector.

Commandant Simon Peter Okoshi said the unit was actually established last year in August and now has about 120 personnel and that the government thought it necessary considering the contribution of tourism to the economy, which is estimated to be USD660 million or 24% of Uganda’s GDP.

I don’t know about you but the whole idea doesn’t sound brilliant to me. Okoshi said their first target will be Boda Boda cyclists who extort and sometimes rape foreigners visiting Uganda.

Questions:

1. How will these tourism cops know if one is a tourist or not?

2. If tourists need a special unit so they feel more secure and protected, does it mean that the service ordinary Ugandans are getting from the police is not good enough?

3. Does the government really think having a special unit to look over foreigners will entice more foreigners to come to Uganda considering that some of the visitors like Jeff Rice and Kathryn Fuller come to this country to engage in some illicit activity?

4. If tourism brings in 24% of our GDP and worthy of a unit of the Uganda Police Force, why does the government still dedicate a paltry USD200,000 to marketing Uganda as a tourist destination?

WITCHES: THE AFRICA CURSE

Two shocking stories caught my eye this week. Both were on TV. One on NTV, a local TV, was about an MP who was undergoing a cultural ritual in his native Karamoja. The other was on London-based SKY TV and it was about Child Witches in the DR Congo. The latter was dubbed CHILD WITCHES: The Curse Of The Congo.

Children branded witches by parents and relatives - NET PICTURE

CHILD WITCHES: The problem is widespread in many communities across Africa

First I will talk about the Karamoja MP (Micah Lolem of Upe Country) who took part in a strange ritual. He was stripped naked and smeared with cow dung, then he was made to dress up in the dripping rumen of a cow. Then he was made to walk about as ladies cheered and youths danced. He was then made to drink a cocktail of raw blood mixed with uncooked cow milk. All this and more was to ensure he becomes a real man, respected by his people and the cocktail drink in particular was to make him strong and keep him safe from evil.

The Congo story was more disturbing, macabre, to be precise. Innocent children are picked on by their parents and labeled witches. Then to deliver then from the evil spell, weird things are done to their bodies, they are slapped, punched, spit at, shaved, smeared with salt and done all kinds of crazy things by fake doctors and pseudo spiritual healers. Some of the children die, others are forced to run away from their homes, others escape with mutilated bodies and almost all who undergo this deliverance are traumatized and haunted for life.

There is a thin line between what happens in Karamoja and in the Congo. Both stories show the dark side of Africa. Lately I have been thinking about UPE the free education programme by the Uganda government. I was thinking of arguing that the programme be scaled back from universal because I think it’s not being effective on a massive scale. But I have changed my mind, communities like those in Karamoja and in the Congo need enlightenment. UPE might be flawed, might not be the best foundation education for kids who want to be astronauts but it might be what like those in Upe county need.

What they do in Karamoja might be benign but it’s scaring to imagine what they do when it gets dark the dead of night.

What is happening in the Congo is absolutely mortifying.

Both scenarios are a clear indication of what ignorance, poverty and disease can do to human beings. Poverty leads to Ignorance which pave way for superstition and all kinds of crazy things.

Such communities need any type of education, however flawed. But then I cannot help but wonder who will force these communities to go to school? Who will they look up to to realize that their gory rituals are primitive and barbaric. Because if those who have gone to school like MP Micah Lolem are willing to let a bunch of superstitious, illiterate tribesmen splash them with cow dung to keep away evil spirits, you wonder what the future holds.

RWANDA AS SINGAPORE?

Rwanda, our neighbors to the south have, again, been in the news. This week in The Economist, they are again touted as Africa’s Singapore. Everyone loves Rwanda and the article makes fantastic reading, especially the challenges that the country must overcome if they are to truly compare with the Asian giant City State. One assertion touched me because it mentions Uganda.

(Rwanda) lacks nearly all of Singapore’s advantages. Singapore has the world’s busiest port; Rwanda is landlocked. Singapore has one of the world’s best-educated populations; Rwanda’s middle class was butchered in 1994. Singapore is a gateway to China; Rwanda’s neighbours are “less than ideal”, as a recent report from the Legatum Institute, a British think-tank, put it. Uganda is corrupt; Burundi a basket-case; Congo worse.

Its that line about Uganda being ‘corrupt‘ and therefore ‘less than ideal‘ as a neighbor that troubles me. It’s such pronouncements in respectable publications like The Economist, that destroy a country’s reputation beyond repair. Yet, sadly, I cannot contest the CORRUPT tag in reference to Uganda.

THE UNENDING PAIN OF FOOTBALL

Everyone I talked to before the match said Congo Brazaville should be no match for the Uganda Cranes. We are ranked far better than them by FIFA and we missed being in the Cup of Nations by a single point. We are reigning CECAFA champions. We were expected to get a result in Congo. “At least a draw, am not scared of Congo, we can even lose 1-0, am confident,’ said one sports journalist before the game.

Well, we lost the game 3-1. The team returned with zero points and a mountain to climb. Looking back one realizes we were just being optimistic. The team is new, many of the old timers have retired and its basically a patch up job of ordinary players yet to make their mark on the national scene. We played no build ups, the friendlies against South Sudan and Egypt did not materialize. Looking back I think Uganda deserved to lose. We cannot do everything wrong and accept something right to emerge.

Albert Einstein describes madness as doing the same old thing and expecting something different in return. Thats the story of FUFA, thats the story of Uganda. And yet the suffering fans can’t give up, shouldn’t not give up, not now, not ever. Ours is a strange country, a country where life is increasingly becoming boring, a country devoid of all fun and any success. Our politicians are an irritant and offer little or no satisfaction. It’s the Cranes, our football team that offer us ordinary citizens the least hope for a glory-filled future. The only hope that we cling to even when they deliver nothing but pain and disappointment.

Cartoon of Uganda Cranes

TASK: Mr. Ras probably captured the mood of a typical Cranes fan after the loss to Congo Brazaville

FACT FOR LIFE

Uganda will this year clock 50 years of independence. Here is an interesting fact. In 40 years between 1950 and 1990, South Korea’s population went from more than 80 percent rural to more than 80 percent urban. The United States, the world’s largest economy, has one of the most mobile populations. About 35 million people change residence every year. And in China, in the late 1990s more than 150 million people moved to coastal areas of the country. The fact therefore is, prosperity demands not just mobility of goods and services but also of people. Maybe we need to get moving? SOURCED FROM: http://www.worldbank.org/wdr2009

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Mutebile Might Stay But His Rating Is Now ‘Junk Status’

DAMAGED GOODS: Bank of Uganda Governor Tumusiime Mutebile

In a few days Bank of Uganda Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile will deliver his latest monetary policy for March but the question on the minds of those listening will be, how on earth is he still here?

Others will wonder; ‘did he first agree with President Yoweri Museveni, or did the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi get an advance copy of that?

Mutebile, despite many having written his obituary, somehow, is still boss at Bank of Uganda. But make no mistake about it, it’s not because he is the right man for the job anymore. The man is damaged goods.

The Constitutional of Uganda demands that the head of the our central bank, the Governor, always be free from all external interference. That he shouldn’t  be subject to control or direction of any person or any authority in the land or anywhere.

LAW: Article 162(2) of the Constitution of Uganda says the Governor should be independent

But who dare say this is the case with Mutebile as Governor?

The scandals of the past years have taken their toll on the man. He has been fatally exposed. He might insist he is not a thief but benefits thieves and that appearance before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) didn’t just chink his armor, it literary undressed him. He is in the nude. These scandals proved to Ugandans and all those paying attention, that Mutebite isn’t a man of honor, these scandals proves that the man with bushy beards is the big man’s poodle (and I am trying to be very careful here).

Gasping for survival, Mutebile’s defense was: I am just a banker, I was following orders from the bank account holder, it wasn’t my decision to pay Basajjabalaba those billions and it wasn’t my decision that I didn’t deduct money owed to BoU. But according to the supreme law of the land, the constitution, he, Mutebile, as Governor, shouldn’t take orders from anyone. He is mandated by the constitution to do what is right not what he has been told to do. Unless Uganda’s constitution isn’t worth the paper on which its printed.

Mutebile could have insisted that his office be respected, sadly, he didn’t, he followed ‘orders from above’ and penned those ‘letters of comfort’ and government lost billions. He should have fallen with his pals the ministers.

And now, his reputation as a proud man, the reputation of his venerable office and the reputation of those whom he says gave him the orders to pay the billions, and the reputation of Uganda, is firmly in the stinking gutter while Mutebile continues to seat firmly in his seat, sipping single malts and looking over the economy.

I doubt anyone trusts Mutebile to do the right thing right from now on. His interview with the Financial Times of London keeps coming to mind. In that interview, he told how he felt ‘very humiliated’ by his boss and how he had been given promises which weren’t kept. He should have walked away then, but he chose to stay.

But after this latest scandal and the rumors abound and the innuendo flying around town, Mutebile’s rating as BoU Governor should be downgraded to JUNK STATUS. He will still enjoy the perks and do projections for the future of the economy but effectively as his fellow economists would say, he is in default.

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Opinion

 

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