Which Museveni decries expensive power and which one hikes tax on Kerosene? Answer: Yuri the revived Communist.

There was a time when policies espoused by the NRM government had clarity of vision. Uganda became the “first country in the world” to establish free Universal Primary Education and the message was clear; let there be learning even if it is under trees.

Free Health care unlike in many African countries was expanded with clinics built in the farthest corners of the country, again the message was clear; let everyone see a Doctor even if they don’t get medicine.

But in years when you would think the experience earned from longevity should pay off with refined and well-informed policies, you will be disappointed.

Take for example President Museveni’s recent advice to investors at a London conference that he would rather they stay away from power generation in Uganda because “their electricity is expensive.”

For a country where almost 95 percent of the population can’t access electricity, the choice is not that hard. You get the electricity first then worry about cost later. For, even if the two touted power dams, Karuma and Isimba were to miraculously be completed on schedule, Uganda will still have a production deficit.

You must wonder then what motivated the president’s statement.  Is it even for Museveni to determine the price of electricity? The price will be that which the markets determine and can bear.

So why is Museveni not saying “let there be power even if it is expensive” yet saying “let there be expensive Kerosene even if people are poor?”

Kerosene is a basic need of the poor. To control the poor, you control what they need most by making them toil hard that all efforts are dedicated there, they forget about challenging your power. It is a communist playbook.

In 2012, President Museveni’s visit to Moscow opened a new chapter in Africa since the end of the cold war. He was honoured with a soviet era medal of courage and he reciprocated with praise of Russia’s role in the liberation of Africa. It is the kind of “looking East” that even Moscow shy about, but North Korea, whose officials are training Ugandan Police is enthusiastic to promote. Good old communism is creeping back into Africa and Yoweri (read Yuri) is leading the charade.

There are other pointers.

In Kampala, Yuri overthrew a constitutional order and appointed a Tzar, contravening the local government Act with a pseudo legal regime specially made for the capital alone and disguised as a political battle with Erias Lukwago. Since when do we legislate for particular geographical areas? Jennifer Musisi is almost as powerful as the head of the Communist Party in a Chinese Province. This is an “experiment” will most likely be rolled out across the country with a “clean, modern Kampala” given as the justifying example. Remember, the era of district creation is over and one of awarding City status has arrived.

With the army, Ugandans may have long resigned to the fate of combatants trampling allover civilian matters but Yuri’s latest move where combatants have been deployed to administer farm production is Kim Jong il 2.0.

Yuri also descended on the unpopular and widely despised Secretary General of the ruling “party,” overthrew him and will soon install himself as alpha and omega, making the direction of the country his sole prerogative since the movement system remains on the law books as noted by former Democratic Party President General, Paul Kawanga Semogerere. All Yuri did was shout wolf and everything fell into place coz if Mbabazi was indeed a wolf then he was a toothless one. Even the opposition prayed for the day NRM fielded Mbabazi for president so they can defeat him in a landslide victory.

Apart from the historical bush war veterans, majority of Yuri’s party MPs served in such security agencies as ISO and ESO et al and have been seen drawing guns during elections. They are all communist style cadres groomed for the system, most through the off-limits statehouse scholarship scheme operated by NRM for decades.

Yuri then made sure Ugandans started losing rights one by one. Freedom of assembly was taken by the Public Order Management Act and before it the Police Act. Freedom of expression was taken by the Communications Act and the Media Act. Freedom of fashion was taken by the ambiguous anti-pornography Act commonly known as the miniskirt law. Privacy was taken by the Interception of Communications Act. The Anti-Homosexuality Act attempted to dictate matters in your bedroom. To crown it all, the anti- terrorism Act seems to supersede the constitution itself. Like China’s Tiananmen, public parks and squares are not accessible to anyone except the police.

Yuri then turned to the Judiciary and rendered it a lame duck. Judges are finding it harder to raise quorum on benches lately, a first of its kind since Uganda’s post- independence. Not even Idi Amin’s murder of Benedicto Kiwanuka crippled the Judiciary as much as Yuri has done. Of course it’s no secret that communists despise the law in every way possible except if it’s for use in oppression.

Yuri even escalated his despise for the law by demonizing international institutions. He embarked on assaulting a world court that is going after suspected murderers like Joseph Kony and Omar el Bashir. Withdrawing from the Rome Statute en mass by the African Union is still on the cards, a move largely engineered by Yuri. No coincidence seeing his Moscow ideological Mecca has too excelled at that same thing – crippling the UNSC.

And now Yuri rejects private capital in a country where the power grid blinks when it rains and load shedding for Katwe’s Jua Kali is the order of the day.

The mask is off, Yuri the revived communist is back!

The end of my love affair with Bubbles O’ Leary’s

Management always reserves the right of admission.

Hater with Humour

When 8.00 pm found me in the area code, I decided to pass by Bubbles O’ Leary’s and have a peek. There were about two females and two male guards at the entrance. As I was about to open my bag for them to check it, one male guard snapped at me:

“Gwe Nyabo! Oyagala chi?” (You woman! What do you want?)

Astounded, I simply stared at him.

“I’m asking you! Who do you know inside there?” he growled, in Luganda.

“Why are you talking to me like this?” I asked him quietly.

His demeanor grew in hostility. The source of the contempt on his face was a mystery to me. I stared a little bit harder.

“Me, I’m asking you, who do you know inside there? What do you want?!” he said again, in Luganda.

I wondered why he wasn’t speaking to me in English. Why he was…

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Uganda to censor HIV/AIDS information in effort to reverse prevalence rates.

Uganda is instituting a communications committee to streamline all HIV/AIDS information before dissemination to the public, a top official of the Uganda Aids Commission has revealed.

Vinand Nantulya, the commission’s chairman says uncoordinated and distorted behavioral change messages have been found to have hindered Uganda’s chances of maintaining a successful campaign against HIV/AIDS attained in the 90s.

Interacting with Journalists at a forum organized by Uganda Media HIV/AIDS Info, a local NGO that works to foster dissemination of HIV/AIDS information, Nantulya also appeared to fault international partners for the distorted behavioral messages.

“Our messages were simple and encouraging people to be faithful to their partners but the international community complicated it with ABC”

ABC is the internationally acclaimed model that combines abstinence, being faithful among partners or using Condoms.

The communications committee will coordinate stakeholders and ensure a uniform message is disseminated.

Uganda, previously held as a model in the fight against HIV/AIDS saw prevalence levels increase again since 2002 peaking at 7.3%. Policy makers point to uncoordinated messages as a key factor responsible for the rise. According to the commission, the country registered a 0.1% decrease last year.

At the same event, the new Director General of the commission, Dr. Christine Ondoa herself a former Health Minister noted that research had shown that high poverty levels are also undermining efforts against HIV/AIDS.

“Many youths indulge in unprotected sex with rich benefactors as a way out of poverty” she said, adding that continued economic empowerment and enlightenment of the youths is important.

Youth unemployment in Uganda stands at 80% and the economy posted less than 5% growth this year, according to most estimates.
But the availability of ARVs is also widely viewed as another factor contributing to increasing prevalence rates as people grow complacent.

Uganda sets thanks giving day for anti-gay law.

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A thanks giving prayer ceremony is being organized in Uganda’s Capital, Kampala to commemorate the enactment of the Anti-Homosexual Law, which establishes tougher sentences for acts of homosexuality.

 Dr. James Nsaba Buturo, a former minister of Ethics and Integrity and a vocal anti-gay crusader is coordinating the event with the Chief Guest expected to be President Yoweri Museveni.

 “I am writing this letter on behalf of a coalition of all the leading religious and faith-based civil society organizations that seek to promote strong marriages, families and to protect future generations of Ugandans,” says Buturo in an invitation letter to “servants of the Lord.”

 “The purpose of the service is to thank God preserving our sovereignty as a nation on this matter”

 “We also wish to thank God for giving the President and the Parliament the courage and foresight to enact the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014 which is compatible with our national motto, “For God and My Country”

 “We also wish to thank God for the high degree of unity that religious leaders and Ugandans have shown ever since the AHB was tabled in Parliament and later enacted into law”

 The prayers are slated for March 31, 2014 at the symbolic Kololo Independence Grounds where British colonial governors handed over power to the nation’s founding father, Dr. Apollo Milton Obote slightly half a century ago.

 The Anti-Homosexuality Act has attracted criticism since its signing in February with US President Barack Obama ordering aid cuts to Ugandan entities that are viewed as proponents of the anti-gay legislation. Other countries including Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway as well as the multilateral lender, World Bank have revised funding to Uganda.

 However, President Museveni’s government is defiant, insisting the legislation is important to protect Ugandans against gay promoters and recruiters.

 A group of human rights activists petitioned court this month seeking a repeal of the law saying it undermines the constitutional rights of individuals.

 LGBT activists have since the enactment of the law cited threats of violence against them including denial of amenities like house rentals on grounds of their sexuality.

 Uganda is a highly conservative country and the law has massive support among the population.

 

Kenya, Uganda and US plan Guantanamo-style prison on Migingo.

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A military prison may be built on the “contested” Migingo Island full with Court Martial akin to the infamous Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The plan, this writer has established, dates as far back as 2004 and involves Kenya, Uganda and the US.

Even as it seemed to the wider public that the spat over Migingo was a genuine boarder disagreement between Kenya and Uganda, the controversy surrounding Migingo is part of a meticulous plan by the three countries to transform the strategic Island into a prison to be used in the so-called fight against terror.

Apparently the countries have an interest in keeping the true location of Migingo ambiguous, giving them room to manouvre the anticipated legal challenges regarding detention and Jurisdiction.

According to the plan, building blocks habouring 1000 solitary confinement cells, 5 by 8 feet in measure are to be set up with an unnamed Halliburton (Halliburton has oil contracts in Western Uganda) subsidiary being the lead contractor. The works would involve reclaiming more land from the lake to cater for various security installations while advanced water security systems would be deployed.

American power at stake.

As the George W. Bush presidency eyed a second term, US officials were keen on ending the worldwide backlash caused by Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre and the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They sought to establish another facility – preferably in Africa where human rights issues receive less scrutiny.

Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni long the Pentagon’s man in the region seems to have agreed to the plan following consultations with his Kenyan counterpart, Mwai Kibaki who was in Kampala to attend the ninth COMESA Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government in June 2004.

But the calculus did not go their way.

Kibaki eying re-election for a second term had to delay the plans at least until after the elections to avoid a backlash. But plans were even delayed further as Kibaki emerged weakened by the 2007 post election violence. He also failed to follow through with his pledge largely because the then Prime Minister, Raila Odinga with whom he shared power was reluctant. Understandably, Migingo (if in Kenya) is in Nyanza Province – his political heartland. Indeed, Odinga instead drummed up Luo nationalism demanding that Uganda withdraws its officials from Migingo, effectively rendering the Migingo plan impossible.

It is Odinga’s perceived sabotage of the planned facility that prompted President Museveni to implicitly refer to him and his “Jaluo” tribesmen as mad, in an address at the University of Dar-es-salaam while on a visit to Tanzania in May 2009.

Terrorism and the Security Dilemma

But the need for the Migingo Prison regained relevance when in 2010, Somali Islamist group Al Shabab attacked Uganda killing 70 people. Suddenly, increased US presence in Eastern Africa was inevitable. The heightened security cooperation among countries saw Kenya arbitrarily extraditing several radicals and suspected Al-Shabab members to Uganda to face terrorism charges.

Yet both countries faced a key security dilemma on how and where to detain the radicals. Luzira Prison, currently Uganda’s most secure is too close to the Kampala Commercial District to house terrorists. Apart from fears that mobs seeking revenge might attack the suspects while on the way to the High Court (which is located in the Kampala CBD), there was a possibility that other terrorists could likely target suspects’ convoys in a bid to silence those in custody. This put security in a tricky position that the trials more or less stalled, not necessarily because the cases lack merit but transporting terrorists through the CBD proved a security nightmare.

In fact, security gurus in Kampala consider Luzira Prison untenable that government is contemplating a swap deal in which a private investor would take over Luzira land in exchange for constructing better, modern, spacious and conveniently located detention facilities. The Commissioner General of Prisons, Johnson Byabashaija told parliament last year that he had forwarded the plan to Cabinet.
Nairobi’s Kamiti and Industrial Prisons also presented the same dilemma.

Besides, cramping terrorists with regular criminals is a recipe for disaster. The terrorists often use Prisons as recruitment grounds.
All this justified the urgent need for the Migingo facility.

Another Kenya Spoiler

However, events in Kenya yet again took a different turn from what the US had expected. Following a long break of political uncertainty and US having counted on a Raila Odinga win, Uhuru Kenyatta emerged President resulting in the limited cooperation with the West due to ICC charges, hence compounding the delay by the US to move on the Migingo plan.

This writer understands that President Obama who used the “close Guantanamo” card to his electoral advantage knew about the Migingo plan, which is why he spoke with such confidence in 2008 – hoping that it would be salvaged with him at the White House and Raila Odinga at State House Nairobi.

But as things stand, the US seems to have resorted to other alternatives like releasing some prisoners that were planned for transfer to the “new Migingo Prison” most of them without being charged. Others are transferred to face charges in their home countries. An estimated 158 prisoners down from a high of nearly 800 when the plan was conceived are currently held at Guantanamo.

It is unclear if the project is still on the books but Ugandan Special Forces and police officers still administer Migingo Island and the Kenyan government has not raised any protests in recent years. Meanwhile, the work of the joint re-demarcation team instituted to mark the boarder in 2009 has since stalled although the two countries set up a Joint Permanent Commission this year, which among other things will streamline their borders. A separate Kenyan commission established in 2010 concluded that the Island belonged to Kenya. However, no move has been made since to reclaim the Island from Ugandan authority.

Uganda and Kenya are some of the top US military allies in Sub Saharan Africa along with Ethiopia and Djibouti. According to this 2012 report by the Washington Post http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-06-14/world/35462335_1_contractors-missions-central-african-republic, Uganda alone hosts a US airbase with a large fleet of PC-12 aircrafts used in surveillance operations in Central and Eastern Africa. The country’s Entebbe airport also has a fueling partnership with the Pentagon while several sites in the country are used as Strategic Bases, Forward Operating Sites and Contingency Security Locations as well as many other shared facilities. The US army also routinely trains Ugandan troops and conducts joint operations like those against the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Kenya, apart from hosting a US Naval base in Mombasa has over 100 US Commandos stationed at a Military Base in Manda Bay. The country, like Uganda also hosts Forward Operating Sites and all its Airports have fueling agreements with the US Military, according to a report by Tom Dispatch http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/09/us-military-bases-africa in 2013.

But relations between Kampala and Washington are not at their best since the signing in February of the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Law by President Museveni despite fierce opposition by President Obama.

The posturing over the Anti-gay laws however seems to have no bearing on the long standing military relations as it emerged this week that Washington is sending more combat aircrafts and US special forces to join the UPDF hunt for Ugandan rebel leader, Joseph Kony.

Museveni’s legacy

On the domestic front, some sources this writer spoke to allude to the idea that President Museveni will not rest until the Migingo Prison is in place because it fits in his retirement plan. His government perpetually tainted by corruption and allegations of officials committing war crimes, President Museveni who has ruled for 28 years and is eying another five-year term in 2016 is gradually constructing his legacy around the fight against corruption and intends to leave a “clean” government in place.

“One pointer is his move to scrap bail for those he calls economic saboteurs”

“The hardcore corrupt officials will be banished and isolated in the maximum security Migingo Prison, if it comes into existence,” a source says, noting that he will not want them to destabilize his new kids on the block.

Apparently, Museveni hopes to hand over power to a new professional and well-educated class which he has been personally grooming using the magnanimous State House coffers for the last 20 years.

If true, President Museveni is likely to have revisited the Migingo Plan when he held talks with US Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel and other Pentagon officials on his last visit to US in September last year.

In Secretary Hegel’s meeting room, President Museveni was quickly followed by Defence ministers – Denmark’s Nicolai Wammen, Italy’s Roberta Pinotti and Spain’s Dr. Pedro Morenes, all countries that can easily buy into the Migingo Plan given their history with Islamist radicals.

Could The Drafting of The Rome Statute of the ICC Have Avoided Kenyan Crisis?

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201391044753647734_20Justice Julia Sebutinde, a Judge at the International Court of Justice in the Hague is reported to have urged the ICC to “listen” to it’s members in Africa. South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma is quoted to have urged the ICC to compromise with Kenyan leaders by allowing the trials to go ahead without their personal presence in the court.

Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) is turning up diplomatic heat against the court. The heads of state meet this week not to promote accountability of heinous crimes against humanity but to seek to “avoid” the trial of the accused before the International Criminal Court (ICC) which was formed in 2002.

It is no secret that African leaders have phobia for institutions which seek to promote genuine accountability.

Apparently, compounded by the Westgate mall attack, it is also starting to look more likely that one of the accused, President Uhuru Kenyatta will opt to…

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