Friday 30 November 2012

UN General Assembly grants upgraded status for Palestine

Palestinians celebrate in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 29, 2012 after the General Assembly voted to recognise Palestine as a non-member state. The UN General Assembly on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to recognize Palestine as a non-member state, giving a major diplomatic triumph to president Mahmud Abbas despite fierce opposition from the United States and Israel. AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI. 

UN General Assembly grants upgraded status for Palestine

By Agencies

Posted  Friday, November 30  2012 at  08:46

In Summary

UN General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to make Palestine a non-member state

The UN General Assembly on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to make Palestine a non-member state, inflicting a major diplomatic defeat on the United States and Israel.

The victory for president Mahmud Abbas triggered scenes of joy in the occupied West Bank where thousands celebrated with bursts of gunfire and cheers in the city of Ramallah.

Abbas claimed what he called a UN “birth certificate” for a Palestinian state and got the backing of 138 countries in the 193 member assembly. Nine voted against and 41 abstained.

A Palestinian flag was unfurled in the General Assembly as the victory was pronounced. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned what he called a “venomous” speech by the Palestinian leader.

The vote lifts the Palestinian Authority from an observer entity to a “non-member observer state” on a par with the Vatican.

Palestine has no vote on the General Assembly but is able to join UN agencies and potentially the International Criminal Court (ICC), where it could ask for an investigation of Israeli actions.

The Palestinian leadership says it wants to use the vote as a launchpad for renewed direct talks with Israel, which have been frozen for more than two years.

Abbas told the assembly the resolution was “the last chance to save the two-state solution.”

In a 22-minute speech laced with references to Israel’s operation against Gaza this month, Abbas said time for an accord is running out. “The rope of patience is shortening and hope is withering.”

Afterwards, he said the vote had been “historic”.

“Tomorrow we begin the real war,” Abbas said at a celebration reception. “We have a long road and difficult road ahead of us. I don’t want to spoil our victory tonight but the road ahead is still difficult.”

The United States and Israel immediately condemned the vote, which US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called “counterproductive.”

US ambassador Susan Rice sternly told the General Assembly that the resolution would be “an obstacle to peace” because it would not lead to a return to direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

“Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade. And the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded,” she said.
The United States blocked a Palestinian application for full UN membership - made by Abbas in September 2011 - at the UN Security Council.

 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pose for photos at the United Nations Nov. 28, 2012, in New York City.

Is Palestine now a state?

Pamela Falk / 

CBS News/ November 30, 2012, 7:51 AM

UNITED NATIONS The United Nations General Assembly voted Thursday, by an impressive margin, to upgrade Palestine from its status as an "Observer Entity" to an "Observer State," a change greeted by celebration in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and with an unusual display of emotion at U.N. Headquarters -- a Palestinian flag unfurled on the Assembly floor.

But what exactly did the Palestinians really gain at the world body? The resolution referred to the "right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to independence in their State of Palestine."

So, is Palestine now a State?

Here's what the U.N.'s own charter, and international law have to say on the matter:

"The recognition of a new State or Government is an act that only other States and Governments may grant or withhold. It generally implies readiness to assume diplomatic relations. The United Nations is neither a State nor a Government, and therefore does not possess any authority to recognize either a State or a Government," according to the United Nations.

A state may be considered a state by other countries, but not be a member of the U.N. -- as is the case with the Holy See and Kosovo, for example. The United States recognizes 195 states, whereas there are only 193 members of the U.N.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice made the U.S. government's stance on the Palestinians abundantly clear after Friday's vote, telling the assembly: "This resolution does not establish that Palestine is a state."

It's also worth mentioning that U.N. membership does not necessarily mean independent statehood. India was a member of the U.N. in 1945, two years before it became independent from Britain.

International law bases recognition of a state on the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, which declares that "a State as a person of international law should possess a permanent population, a defined territory, a government and the capacity to enter into relations with other States."

A subsequent opinion by the World Court in 1948 spelled out five additional criteria for states seeking full United Nations membership:

A candidate must be: (1) a State; (2) peace-loving; (3) must accept the obligations of the Charter; (4) must be able to carry out these obligations; (5) must be willing to do so.

When the Security Council -- which must recommend a country for membership to the wider U.N. -- considered the Palestinians application for full membership last year, objections were raised over the "peace loving" provision, and the lack of effective governmental control over the Gaza Strip by the Palestinian Authority. In the end, the Council did not recommend full membership.

So the Security Council held the Palestinians up to statehood criteria and decided the threshold had not been reached. But even that did not determine whether or not Palestine is recognized as a country. The United Nations cannot do that.

With its new status as an official "observer state," Palestine will be able to apply to join specialized U.N. agencies and international organizations.

There are also new untested waters, such as whether or not the "statehood" status at the U.N. will give the Palestinians the right of self defense under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.

In the end, the Resolution does not change the Palestinians lives on the ground, and it does not "recognize" Palestine as a state. Most important, the Resolution states the urgent need for the resumption and acceleration of negotiations within the Middle East peace process. That remains the key, according to both Israel and the Palestinian authority, to a real two-state solution.

The 1995 Uganda Constitution is nothing but an illusory law: All power belongs to President Museveni, who exercises this power through the armed forces.

The 1995 Uganda Constitution is nothing but an illusory law


By Busingye Kabumba

Posted  Sunday, September 23  2012 at  00:00

In Summary
All power belongs to President Museveni, who exercises this power through the armed forces. Article 1 of the Constitution is a lie – and the Constitution in Museveni’s Uganda is an elaborate farce that is cynically perpetrated by the President to consolidate and extend his hold on power. This is one of the great tragedies and challenges of ‘Uganda at 50’ and one that promises to engender more turbulent chapters in our political life.

For the past few years, it has been my privilege to teach Constitutional Law at Makerere, the nation’s oldest university. As a first year course, I am one of the first teachers who meet with the young impressionable minds that are similarly privileged to gain admission to the law programme.

In the course of class discussions, it quickly becomes obvious that even these fresh minds are cynical about the state of constitutionalism in our country, an impression that is only made stronger when we begin to delve into the text and the promise of the 1995 Constitution and to compare this not only with our constitutional history but with the present reality of how the country is being governed.

I try as much as possible in these discussions to refrain from infusing my own views into these debates, my intention being to demonstrate the method of constitutional argument and to encourage critical thinking and reflection rather than suggest that there is a ‘right’ answer, which indeed, many times, there is not.

This is often frustrating for the students whose constant refrain is ‘But what is your view?’.

My view

Well, as Uganda prepares to celebrate 50 years of ‘independence’ from British colonial rule, I think it is perhaps about time I did express a view – in a public forum and to a public audience - in the hope that it will generate much needed reflection and debate in the wake of this important milestone.

In my view, having regard to the constitutional, political and legal history of our country, I think it is fair to say that the 1995 Constitution is essentially an illusion.

The illusion begins right from the first Article which rather leads us to believe that ‘[a]ll power belongs to the people who shall exercise their sovereignty in accordance with this Constitution’ and runs on until the very last provision of that document. The simple and unadulterated truth is that for a long time in our history, this has not been the case – and it is certainly not the case at present.

If one asked the Ugandan citizen on the Kampala street where the power lies, I believe the answer would be that ‘all power belongs to the President, who exercises his sovereignty through the army’.

This is both the over-arching and omnipresent truth of our constitutional age, and also the source of the big lie that underlies the 1995 ‘Constitution’. For it is the gun and the capacity for, and ever present threat of, the use of military force by the executive that currently overshadows the Parliament and the Judiciary creates the facade of democracy within which raw and unmitigated political power is exercised by an increasingly narrow group of people.

Of course, occasionally this truth has manifested itself for all to see. In retrospect, it was not insignificant that, on the occasion of his swearing in as President of Uganda in 1986, President Museveni evidently did not find the time to change from military fatigues into civilian clothing. Indeed, it now bears recalling that the ‘fundamental change’ speech was delivered by a soldier in full military gear, surrounded by soldiers, in city that had just been recently ‘captured’.

The very name of the young President ‘Museveni’ itself spoke to a military genesis, being named after the famous Seventh Regiment of the King’s African Rifles (KAR) – the Abaseveni, who had fought in the Second World War.

The young President was by his own admission a student of the gun, whose undergraduate dissertation was titled ‘Fanon’s Theory on Violence: Its Verification in Liberated Mozambique’ and who, true to form, had ‘interned’ in the battle fields of Mozambique among others.

In a recent book [Betrayed by My Master] by Maj. John Kazoora, a part of the group that ‘captured’ Kampala in 1986, we are informed that on June 28, 1980, in the heat of the ill-fated political campaign that triggered the bush war, Museveni informed the public that he was not a professional soldier but an armed politician and further that the gun should be an instrument of politics but that it should not command politics.

More pointedly, we are informed that he told the audience that ‘[i]f you look into my history you will be able to predict my future’. And so then, continuing to look into the history of the man whose presence now permeates all political discourse in the country, it is evident that while in 1980 he may only have been an armed politician, by 1986 he was definitely a professional soldier.

In the same token, while he may have only used the gun to ‘right’ the political wrongs of the 1980 election, by 1986 at least and without doubt today, the gun definitely commands our politics.

Thus when the Constitution continues to say in its very first Article that ‘all authority in the State emanates from the people of Uganda’ and that ‘[a]ll power and authority of Government and its organs derive from this Constitution, which in turn derives its authority from the people’, to the Ugandan citizen on the Kampala street referenced above, this is high sounding nonsense.

For we know, and indeed are on occasion reminded, that all authority in contemporary Uganda is vested in the President, who in turn derives his power and authority from the National Resistance Army or, as it now calls itself, the ‘Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces’.

In June 2004, the Judiciary was forcefully reminded of this when, after the Court of Appeal forgot its place in this ‘democracy’ and declared the Referendum (Political Systems) Act of 2000, an angry Museveni informed them and the nation at large that the ‘major work for the judges is to settle chicken and goat theft cases but not determining the country’s destiny (sic)’.

However, the final and decisive indignity for the Judiciary came on March 1, 2007 when, in response to the granting of bail to suspected rebels of the Peoples’ Redemption Army (PRA), a group of armed paramilitary men fittingly called the ‘black mamba’ surrounded the High Court, marched into the premises and even tried to forcefully enter the Registrar’s office to ensure that the suspects remained behind bars.

We were further reminded of this ‘command of the gun’ when later in August 2007, referring to the 1996 elections, President Museveni told the long suffering people of Luweero that ‘Had you elected Ssemogerere we would have gone to the bush. What else should we have done?’.

In terms of the ‘Parliament’, for the first time in our country’s history the army is recognised as an important group requiring special representation in the House.

More importantly, Parliament has itself been consistently reminded of its uselessness, with the President at one point saying he did not mind if NRM MPs slept in the House as long as they woke up once in a while to vote along the party lines.

More recently, in an outstanding and blatant attack on the person of the Speaker, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, the President was quoted as saying “[a] speaker isn’t supposed to be in dance halls, jumping up and down.

A speaker should wear her wig and keep silent until something that needs her guidance comes up.”

This is the President’s past and present style of governance, which is available to us as a guide to predict what we can expect going forward.

Now, it could be argued, and many have done so elsewhere, that these are merely instances of disrespect of the Constitution.

However, to my mind, the means by which the present NRM/A acquired power and the means by which they have sustained themselves in power militates against this view.

It would appear that the Constitution does not, in fact, have the supremacy it claims for itself. It is not the ultimate source of power or authority in contemporary Uganda, but merely one of the tools by which the NRM’s stranglehold on power is consolidated and perpetuated.

In effect, the Constitution and a number of other laws, have become mere instruments of politics to be used and abused as the political expedience demands.

In such a situation, I do not think it is accurate to say the Constitution has been violated – the Constitution itself is naked, impotent and illusory. The gun is the real source of power and authority in contemporary Uganda.

All power belongs to President Museveni, who exercises this power through the armed forces. Article 1 of the Constitution is a lie – and the Constitution in Museveni’s Uganda is an elaborate farce that is cynically perpetrated by the President to consolidate and extend his hold on power. This is one of the great tragedies and challenges of ‘Uganda at 50’ and one that promises to engender more turbulent chapters in our political life.

The writer teaches Constitutional Law and International Law at Makerere University. He welcomes comments on these thoughts and can be contacted at

Ugandan Prosperity Pastor, Fred Bahati, Proposes 10 solutions to corruption: But does Uganda’s prosperity movement have the moral authority to condemn corruption in Uganda.

Ps Fred Bahati: Religious institutions should start to shun corrupt people. PHOTO/Abou Kisige.

My analysis

Pastor Bahati’s solutions can over work in Uganda. Religious leaders in Uganda have made an alliance with the corrupt. The accept gifts,  cars and monies from the corrupt. When it comes to Uganda’s prosperity Pentecostal movement,  it is also very corrupt. Pastors collect tithes and offerings but do not account to the flock. Virtually all the churches do not have audited reports of the churches’ transactions . Some Pentecostals pastors are selling prayers and merchandising the sheep. If the Pentecostal movement has failed to shun fraud pastors in their midst, how can they shun corrupt politicians.  


Retired Justice Prof. George Kanyeihamba attacks Ugandan religious leaders for hypocrisy when it comes to corruption

The Corruption ecosystem in Uganda : All Ugandans caught up in corruption

Bahati offers 10 radical solutions to corruption

Publish Date: Nov 30, 2012

By Moses Mulondo 

KAMPALA - The chairman of Uganda Bus Owners Association Pastor Fred Bahati has proposed 10 solutions to end corruption which include the need for churches and mosques to begin shunning corrupt people.

“The level of thieving in Uganda at present is beyond corruption but can be termed as terrorism, robbery, murder, kidnap, rebellion and devilish. We should improvise new measures which will cause the citizens to discriminate and make life hard for the corrupt,” Bahati suggested. 

In a press statement he released on Thursday, Bahati proposed 8 radical measures the nation should undertake to wipe out corruption. 

He wants the religious leaders and believers to allow the corrupt in the places of worship only if they have turned up to repent and return what they have stolen as Zacchaeus the Tax Collector did in the Bible.

Bahati, who is also the pastor of the Nsambya based Light Temple Ministries International Church, wants religious leaders to come out boldly and curse the corrupt.

This regular panelist on the Vision Group’s Urban TV also proposed the need to blacklist and hung the photos of the corrupt in the places of worship so people can shun them.

He wants the children of the corrupt to only be baptized after repentance and bringing what they have stolen.

“We should not also burry them or their family members because they don’t respect God. Those who robbed the funds for the people of northern Uganda who were terrorized by Kony is worse than Kony,” he further proposed.

Bahati wants the places of worship to also reject offertory, tithes and donations or any form of contribution from the corrupt.

He wants the religious leaders to call upon market vendors, supermarkets, petrol stations, banks, and other business people never to render any service to these people who steal funds meant to improve the welfare of ordinary Ugandans.

“Nobody should invite them on the weddings or even attend their functions. By isolating these dangerous thieves at that level it will be an indication to the young people that stealing is bad.”

Bahati also wants the ethics minister Fr. Simon Lokodo to resign arguing he has failed on his duty of mobilizing the citizens to rise up against corruption and other evils in the country.

“The ministry of ethics and integrity requires a more pragmatic and energetic person who will lay strategies of bringing back morals and ethics into Ugandans through crusades, workshops, adverts, and conferences,” Bahati argued.

He also wants MPs and all citizens to support John Ssimbwa’s anti-corruption Bill which calls for harsh punishments for the corrupt including the confiscation of the property of the corrupt.

The area people are saying they are not getting quality services. PHOTO/Francis Emorut

Mpigi residents demonstrate against corruption

Publish Date: Nov 30, 2012

By Francis Emorut       

MPIGI - Residents of Kayabwe in Mpigi district have demonstrated against corruption, saying they have been deprived of quality services.

The residents who marched along Kampala-Masaka highway held placards with different messages.

The messages read: “Inequality breeds corruption, how has corruption affected you?” “Listen to our voices, I am not corrupt why not you?” “Corruption is worse than AIDS” “Let’s all fight against corruption” “What have you done to end corruption?” “The fight against corruption starts with you and protect whistle blowers”, among several others.

The LC1 chairman of Kayabwe Equator, John Semakula called on the area to join those protesting against graft which has affected service delivery in the district.

He said more awareness needs to be created in the community to join the fight against graft.

The demo comes in the wake of scandalous revelations of alleged corrupt officials and their dealings in the office of the Prime Minister, which has effectively forced key donors to withdraw financial aid from Uganda.

Mary Nantongo, a resident of the area said she was happy to join the demonstration because whenever she goes to a health centre, she is told by the health workers that there are no drugs.

Rwampara MP Vincent Chamadidi, officials from Inspectorate of Government, Democratic Governance Facility and Uganda Debt Network joined the residents in the peaceful march against corruption.

Chamididi urged residents to raise alarm whenever money is stolen in the district.

“Corruption is outright theft. Therefore, you should raise an alarm when money is stolen by district officials so that they are caught,” he said.

A mural installed by Uganda Debt Network was launched at the Equator in Kayabwe to raise awareness among the community on the war on corruption.

Civil society bosses to strip over corruption

Thursday, 29 November 2012 23:09

Written by Shifa Mwesigye

Civil Society Organisation leaders have threatened to publicly strip naked if officers accused of stealing pension funds and money meant for the recovery of northern Uganda are not prosecuted and the money refunded.

The CSOs accuse government of permitting impunity by not bringing the accused to book.

“We don’t pay taxes for thieves, that money should be recovered from thieves,” said Richard Ssewakiryanga, executive Director of Uganda National NGO Forum.

Sewakiryanga is particularly concerned that some of the stolen money could have saved lives in the health sector.

“For us who serve people every day, we know the pain of mothers who lose babies because there is no medicine in hospitals. So many people are going to die,” he told a press conference in Kampala.

“Ugandans are dying because of lack of access to essential health services. Mr President ... it is your duty to lead the finding of the money that was looted so that we can get treatment for mothers with HIV, pregnant women and children,” Leonard Okello, the Policy Advisor of the International HIV/Aids Alliance said.

HIV/Aids, human rights, maternal and child health advocacy organisations want corrective action against those implicated in the theft of public funds, particularly from the ministry of Public Service, Office of the Prime Minister and the education sector, which is suspected to be in the region of Shs 1.5 trillion.

Of this money, an estimated Shs 500bn was stolen from the ministry of Public Service in 12 years as part of the ghost pension scheme, with Shs 63bn stolen between February and October 2012 alone. A further Shs 50bn was reportedly stolen from the Office of the Prime Minister’s Peace, Recovery and Development Programme for northern Uganda and Karamoja regions. New revelations indicate that another Shs 950bn World Bank loan for education projects was also targeted.

The CSOs want government to fulfil a commitment to recruit an additional 6,172 health workers and enhance the remuneration of workers at health centre IVs across the country. Joshua Wamboga, of The Aids Support Organisation (TASO), says the Shs 63bn stolen from Public Service between February and October 2012 would be enough to provide anti-retroviral treatment (ARVs) to 17,204 HIV-positive people now waiting in line.

Following the Auditor General’s revelations and the subsequent police-led investigation, Uganda’s development partners such as UK, Ireland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, among others, have frozen aid to Uganda. In a show of solidarity, the CSOs have launched a campaign called ‘Black Monday’.

They will wear black every Monday to mourn the continued death of women during child birth, lack of ARVs for the HIV-positive who need them and hundreds of children in northern Uganda wasting away due to nodding disease. Dr Lydia Mungherera, the executive director of Mama’s Club, appealed to Ms Janet Museveni, the First Lady and minister for Karamoja Affairs, to intervene.

“Mama Janet, as a champion of PMTCT (prevention of mother-to- child HIV transmission) you told us you are going to take the leading role of saving mothers. Do you see that your mothers and their children are dying? As a mother of this nation, help us. You can talk to the president and tell him we are carrying the bleeding heart of a nation.”


Thursday 29 November 2012

Rick Warren marks 10th anniversary of "Purpose Driven Life," says Christian faith will go on another 2,000 years

“God won’t ask about your religious background or doctrinal views. The only thing that will matter is, did you accept what Jesus did for you and did you learn to love and trust him?” (Warren: 34)

The last thing many believers need today is to go back to another bible study. They already know far more than they are putting into practice. (Warren: 231)

First Read:



Rick Warren marks 10th anniversary of "Purpose Driven Life," says Christian faith will go on another 2,000 years

By Greg Garrison |

on November 27, 2012 at 12:41 PM,

updated November 27, 2012 at 12:44 PM

The Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California, appeared on "CBS This Morning" today to mark the 10th anniversary of the release of his book, "The Purpose Driven Life," which has sold 60 million copies.

Warren discussed the re-release of the book with co-hosts Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell, who asked him about whether he opposed President Obama, his stance on same-sex marriage, his church's weight-loss program and whether church attendance is declining.

"This week more people will go to church on one weekend than attend all professional sporting events in one year," Warren said. "Let’s put that in perspective. "More people will go to a synagogue, a cathedral, a temple, or a church, on one weekend, than go to all professional sports in an entire year."

Warren also said media reports exaggerate when they claim a decline in Christian faith.

"Nine months ago, Newsweek had a cover, 'The Decline and Fall of Christian America.' In December, Newsweek declines and falls. Christianity’s going to go on for another 2,000 years. So, these predictions of the church’s demise are highly exaggerated. Kingdoms come and go. I mean, where’s the Syrian empire? Where’s the Nazi regime? Those things come and go."

Warren said he started a weight-loss program at Saddleback, in Lake Forest, Calif.

"I’ve lost 50 pounds; I’ve got about 40 more to go," he said. "I was baptizing 876 people. Along about number 500, I had a not very spiritual thought. I thought, 'We’re all overweight.' The next Sunday I got up, I said, 'Folks, I can’t ask you to get in shape unless I do. I’ve only gained 2 or 3 pounds a year. But I’ve been your pastor 32 years. I need to lose 90 pounds.' I brought in 3 doctors. We started a thing called the Daniel Plan. In the last year, our church has lost 267,000 pounds."

Here are excerpts of the transcript from CBS:

ROSE: On Nov. 4, before the election, you posted on Facebook, "Why would anyone jobless today vote to maintain the status quo instead of change? Unemployment is still higher than four years ago." What are your thoughts on President Obama’s reelection, would be my question to you. Were you saying to people at that time, if you are jobless today, the President has failed you and you should vote against him and you should vote for change in the presidency?

WARREN: Well, what I was saying was the old recovery mantra, to do the same thing over and over and over and expect different change is called insanity. We spent $2 billion on an election that nothing changed. Same Congress, same Senate, same President. So should we expect change? I’m not that sure.

ROSE: So therefore the reelection of President Obama was a good thing or a bad thing?

WARREN: Well, I don’t ever get into politics, as you know, Charlie. I’ve always said I’m not right-wing or left-wing. I’m for the whole bird.

ROSE: But evidently, according to what we’ve just been talking about, God wanted President Obama, if he had a purpose for him, to be reelected. Do I follow that? What’s the disconnect between those two thoughts?

WARREN: We don’t know God’s purpose in a lot of events. I was at the Notre Dame-USC game on Saturday night. People were praying for both sides to win. I don’t think God has an opinion on that.

ROSE: So God didn’t care who won. But God does have an opinion in terms of the purpose of your life and what you do.

WARREN: God is more interested in your character than your career. Because you’re not taking your career to Heaven. You are taking your character. So really, what you do is not nearly as important as who you become. And I would say God is extremely interested in who Barack Obama is becoming, or who Mitt Romney is becoming, or who you or I or Norah are becoming, because that’s the character issue that’s going to outlast our career.

O’DONNELL: Speaking of love thy neighbor as thyself, I want to talk about gay marriage, same-sex marriage, civil unions. Someone tweeted when you were coming on, and said ask him about his opposition to same-sex marriage. Why do you oppose same-sex marriage?

WARREN: Well first, let me ask you. Do you consider yourself to be a tolerant person?

O’DONNELL: I do, yes.

WARREN: So you would be respectful of people who would disagree with you, no matter what?

O’DONNELL: Agreed.

WARREN: Because that’s a very, very personal question. People want to make an incendiary issue over it. I just have biblical views of what I think marriage is about. I am in favor of not redefining marriage. I’m not. It’s not illegal to have a gay relationship in America. So it’s not a big issue to me.

O’DONNELL: Let me ask you, it’s interesting. There’s a pollster named Bill McInturff. A Republican pollster, he was John McCain’s pollster, he’s head of a big firm, his partner was Mitt Romney’s pollster. And he has talked about there has not been one issue where there has been so much change so quickly as on the issue of same-sex marriage. Now we saw a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. How do you mix those two things, which is a personal opposition that might be founded in religious faith, based on what is public opinion, that is shifting so dramatically on that issue? How do you merge those two things?

WARREN: Well, as a pastor, I believe in both the good news, that I believe Jesus is who he said he was, the son of God, and I also believe in the common good. And we’re in a democracy, where nobody wins all the time. For instance, I happen to believe life begins at conception. But that’s not the law. Okay?

ROSE: And for the people that don’t believe that, you’re tolerant of their views, right?

WARREN: Well, the point is, nobody’s leaving the country. We have a wide spectrum in America and we have to work for the common good. And that means sometimes when I mean being co-belligerent. For instance, I don’t agree with everything that the national organization of women supports. But when they are opposing pornography that objectifies the woman body, I’m a co-belligerent with them. So I don’t happen to agree with everything that my gay friends believe, but when they want to end AIDS, I’m a co-belligerent with them. In fact, Kay and I have given millions of dollars to fight AIDS around the world. And we work with both gays and straights. I can work with an atheist, I can work with a Mormon, I can work with a Muslim, I can work with a Baptist, Buddhist, Jew, and that’s one of the issues we have to work on.

ROSE: But the important thing I think is to underline what you said earlier to Norah in terms of same-sex marriage, you have to be tolerant of other people’s views. So if they differ with you with respect to Christianity or with respect to some of the things you say, you’re tolerant and accepting that they came to their beliefs in a genuine way and have to be respected for that.

WARREN: The problem is that tolerant has changed its meaning. Tolerant used to mean I may disagree with you completely, but I’m going to treat you with respect. That’s what tolerant means. Today, to some people, tolerant means you must approve of everything I do. That’s not tolerance, that’s approval. There’s a difference between acceptance and approval. Jesus accepted everybody no matter who they were. He doesn’t approve of everything I do or you do or anybody else does either. So you can be accepting without being approving. That’s an important point.



Trying to white wash the tarnished image US client states; Rwanda and Uganda: Congo rebels leaving Goma: It is just a matter of time before contradictions manifest


Chaos by Design: When aggressors become mediators: When wolves pretend to be sheep: The US supports Museveni Congo mediation: M23 rebels capture Goma as the UN looks on: Kabila and Kagame fly to Kampala for talks

UN+UN peace keeping in Congo =American New World Order: UN security council condemns Goma takeover by M23 rebels: Rebels accused of gross human rights violations: DR soldiers surrender to M23 rebels

Bishop Jean Marie Runiga, Becomes a spokes person for the M23: Using Confusion, misinformation and disinformation to Hide the Central role of USA, her allies and client states in the Conflict in the ‘Democratic’ republic of Congo(DRC)

Bishop Jean-Marie Runiga the spokes person of M23 rebels admits visiting Kampala but says they will not leave Goma

Congo rebels leaving Goma

Publish Date: Nov 29, 2012

By Anne Mugisa
The UN and African Union have approved a 4,000-strong hybrid neutral military force to be stationed in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The new development comes even as the DRC rebel group M23 pulls out of two towns captured from the government troops recently, following a deal brokered by Uganda in a flurry of diplomatic activity.

Besides Goma, the rebels had also seized Sake, a strategic town on the way to South Kivu province and its capital Bukavu.

The force under the UN mandate will keep peace but also engage in combat if any groups decided to destabilise the area, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. A UN military envoy is on the way to Kampala for consultations to ensure that “the concept is understood.,” according to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador James Mugume.

Currently, the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO) in Congo is made up of 20,000 troops, but its mandate has purely been to protect civilians and not to fight. This is because the contributing countries insist that their forces should not engage in combat.

This, however, is set to change with the proposed hybrid force. The current MONUSCO force is to be reduced to 16,000 and beefed up with the 4,000 African Union forces which could engage in combat if need be.

According to Mugume, the two-mandate hybrid force will also tackle anybody else who will try to destabilise peacein the region. Several armed groups are operating in the Eastern DRC. They include the Mai-Mai and the FDLR (Interahamwe).

Mugume said several African countries have pledged to contribute the forces and the UN has approved about $150m for that hybrid mission for the first year and would be revised after the first year as need arises. The money is part of the $1.4b approved by the UN for MONUSCO.

Mugume said that deployment will depend on how fast the African countries contributed troops but added that “we could deploy by January if all goes well”.

The M23 military commander, Sultani Makenga, said on Tuesday the M23 had begun transferring arms, provisions and medical supplies from Goma to the Rutshuru territory north of the city, an area along the Uganda and Rwanda border that has been their main stronghold since launching their uprising in April,

The Kinshasha government yesterday alleged that during the withdrawal, the M23 were engaged in massive looting of Goma

The Red Cross also reported that it had buried 62 people whose bodies were found on the streets of Goma in the days following its capture by the M23 group.

Residents said dozens of trucks carrying food and ammunition had left Goma, the main city in the Kivu region on the borders of Rwanda and Uganda which has been the flashpoint for past wars in central Africa’s largest country.

At stake is the control of Kivu’s vast mineral wealth, which  include cobalt, copper, diamonds, gold and coltan, a key component in mobile phones.

On the streets of Goma, life appeared to be returning to normal, AFP correspondents said. Shops were open, taxis were running and while there were a few rebels posted at junctions, their presence has been scaled down considerably.

A local official said residents had reported that the trucks were heading towards Rutshuru and Rumangabo, both rebel-held towns north of Goma. But the M23 were still occupying the town of Sake, which lies on the road towards Bukavu.

The rebels had made a string of demands on the Kinshasa government as a prerequisite for their withdrawal.

Among them was the release of opposition standard-bearer Etienne Tshisekedi, a former prime minister, who has been under unofficial house arrest since declaring victory in flawed elections last year that were officially won by Kabila. They also demanded direct talks with the president and the dissolution of the electoral commission.

The revolt against the DRC government has raised the risk of all-out war in a region dogged by nearly two decades of conflict that has killed about five million people.

The rebellion erupted in April when the M23 mutinied and broke away from the DR Congo army, complaining that a 2009 deal to end a previous conflict had not been fully implemented. The rebels captured Goma on November 20 after Congolese soldiers withdrew.

Top Ugandan varsity fails Kenya quality test

Top Ugandan varsity fails Kenya quality test


Posted  Thursday, November 22  2012 at  00:29

In Summary
  • This means that thousands of Kenyans who graduated from Kampala International University (KIU) in the last ten years or so were awarded qualifications not recognised in Kenya.
  • Three of the applicants for the posts of Inspector-General of Police and deputies were disqualified because their certificates from KIU were not recognised by CHE.
  • The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) of Uganda stopped KIU from awarding the PhDs on the eve of its graduation ceremony until they were verified.
One of the most popular universities in East Africa is not accredited, according to the Commission for Higher Education (CHE).

This means that thousands of Kenyans who graduated from Kampala International University (KIU) in the last ten years or so were awarded qualifications not recognised in Kenya.

Three of the applicants for the posts of Inspector-General of Police and deputies were disqualified because their certificates from KIU were not recognised by CHE.

“This is a cause for alarm. The institution is not chartered and therefore any papers from KIU cannot be recognised in Kenya,” CHE Chief Executive David Some told the Nation on Wednesday in an interview.

“When students graduate from KIU, the commission cannot undertake ‘equation for qualification’ of their papers, meaning that they are not qualified according to the Kenyan standards,” he added.

Prof Some spoke days after Ugandan authorities directed KIU to stop awarding 42 PhD degrees, saying it lacked capacity to mount the courses. (READ: Higher education chaotic)

The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) of Uganda stopped KIU from awarding the PhDs on the eve of its graduation ceremony until they were verified. Of the 42, officials said 30 were to be awarded to Kenyan students.

The New Vision of Uganda reported that the PhD students were about to graduate when NCHE said the institution did not have the capacity to pass out such degrees.

NCHE Executive Director A B K Kasozi is reported to have written to the office of the university’s vice-chancellor stopping the graduation.

Prof Kasozi set out conditions for KIU to beat before the 42 PhD students can be allowed to graduate, which included submission of the external examiners’ reports on each of the students, the period each student had taken to complete the programme and the list of external and internal examiners.

Prof Some said Kenyans need to do background checks before they enrol in the institutions.
42 PhD students stopped from graduating at KIU

Publish Date: Nov 19, 2012

By John Semakula and John Masaba

The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) has directed Kampala International University (KIU) to halt the awarding of 42 PhDs until they are verified.

The PhD students were to graduate on Saturday during the university’s ninth graduation ceremony.

But on Friday morning, the executive director of NCHE, Prof. A.B.K Kasozi, wrote to the office of the university’s vice-chancellor stopping the graduation of the 42 students.

In a letter which New Vision saw, NCHE was challenging the university’s ability to pass out such a big number of graduates with PhDs.

“NCHE has received news that you are going to graduate 42 PhD students. Last year, you graduated over 20 PhD students. NCHE is concerned about your capacity to graduate such a number in a span of two years,” the letter read.

Kasozi set out conditions for KIU to beat before the 42 PhD students can be allowed to graduate.

The conditions included submission of the external examiners’ reports on each of the students, the period each student had taken to complete the programme and the list of external and internal examiners. NCHE also stated that at one point, the university may require verifying all the dissertations of the 42 PhD students.

When contacted for a comment, the university’s public relations officer, Chris Mubiru, said they had not yet received the letter and that there was no way they would stop the students from graduating at the last hour.

Higher education chaotic

Posted  Wednesday, November 21  2012 at  19:00


Higher education has recorded phenomenal growth in East Africa in recent years due to increased demand.

Altogether, there are about 100 universities in East Africa, both public and private, with Kenya hosting the highest number, 40.

But the growth has come with enormous challenges, key among them being quality control and assurance.

The five East African states have regulatory agencies to control and guide the expansion of higher education institutions, but experience shows they are not very effective.

Many irregular things happen raising questions about the quality of some programmes offered.

A case in point is Kampala International University, arguably, one of the fastest growing institutions in the region which has, reportedly, been offering unapproved degrees.

Both Uganda’s and Kenya’s regulators have disowned its programmes on the ground that they are not recognised.

Kenya’s Commission for Higher Education and other regulators must crack down on universities and other tertiary institutions offering questionable certificates. We need order in higher education.


Retired Justice Prof. George Kanyeihamba attacks Ugandan religious leaders for hypocrisy when it comes to corruption


Has God abandoned our religious leaders?

By Prof. George Kanyeihamba

Posted  Sunday, November 25  2012 at  02:00

In Summary
Uganda’s religious leaders have failed to explain the practice of accepting material donations and expensive personal gifts from sinful candidates during political and electioneering campaigns.
On occasions, this columnist has defended religious leaders who publicly make constructive criticism about political acts of injustice and mis-governance. It is time that we examined the transgressions of religious leaders themselves. In the Church of Uganda, there have been satanic transgressions committed by high priests and other church leaders. After all, the Protestant Church and the Church of England, from which the Church of Uganda sprang, was founded by the heretic priest, Martin Luther, who was emulated by murderer King Henry of England. Henry ignored the causes that Luther had fought for.

Some leaders of the Catholic Holy Church have also greatly sinned against the laws of God and the Church. History records the grave sins of the mischievous early Popes of Rome, some of whom, contrary to church ethics, fathered illegitimate children from sinful or disgraced mistresses. In recent times, a Bishop of a devoted Roman Catholic country confessed to have fathered a son. In the Church of Wales, a local priest was convicted and jailed for sodomising young boys in public toilets.

In the same Principality, a Protestant clergyman was convicted and jailed for murdering his wife because he lusted after and ravished a wife of another man and wished to continue doing so. Some years ago, a golfing priest, Father Peter Sutton, revealed that many Ugandan young priests were dying of Aids and then confessed that we are all human after all. Muslim leaders have not been spared by the devil from sinning which they usually do by way of greed and embezzlement of religious property.

Despite all these bad examples, current Ugandan religious leaders appear to have learnt very little from them. The Protestants, who condemned the sale of indulgences in the early Roman Catholic Church are today doing the same. They may not know that they are doing so but the evidence on the ground is likely to lead many of them to eternal fire of damnation.

Today, Ugandan religious leaders are not only comfortable in the company of politicians who commit heinous offences condemnable both on earth and heaven, but they personally benefit from ill gotten gains of the same sinners. People were horrified recently when they saw a highly placed religious leader receive a gift from an equally placed political sinner who the same religious leader had previously and publicly condemned as evil.

Recently, another highly placed church leader blessed a political leader who many people, including the top leadership of the NRM party, believe to be corrupt and unprincipled. The only reason this seemingly hypocritical religious leader gave for his act is that he and the family of the politician he canonised have been friends for years.

Forgotten was the principle popularised by the Lord Jesus Christ that even if it is thy own eye which makes you sin, it is better to pluck it out than keep it, and fail to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Many religious leaders who prominently proclaim themselves to be holier than thou and their followers who praise and bless other people mainly for what the latter donate to them for personal use or pleasure, are amongst the worst sinners.

Uganda’s religious leaders have failed to explain the practice of accepting material donations and expensive personal gifts from sinful candidates during political and electioneering campaigns. Faced with a rich candidate who donated money to the church and a Pajero to him or her and another candidate who is too poor to do the same but is known to be honest and principled, a compromised a religious leader finds it easier to advise the congregation to vote for the rich corrupting politician than the innocent principled one. Part of the evidence God will use to judge his people, is the company they keep.

We have heard of the hypocritical church leader who harangued members of his church and said that sinners amongst them shall be struck down by thunderbolt from heaven. He was instantly hit by a huge boulder from the sky and stopped forever from uttering any further blasphemy.

Justice Kanyeihamba is a retired
Supreme Court Judge.


The Corruption ecosystem in Uganda : All Ugandans caught up in corruption

 Patients crowd Mulago hospital corridors as they wait to see doctors. In some cases, patients are forced to part with a few shillings in order for them to access quick medication. PHOTO by Abubaker Lubowa. 

All Ugandans caught up in corruption

By Timothy Kalyegira

Posted  Sunday, November 25  2012 at  02:00

In Summary
Many genuinely honest citizens or foreigners working and living in Uganda are being forced into the humiliating and disturbing position of having to co-exist with the thieves or have the thieves as their main clients if their businesses are to survive.

Last week we looked at the several stages of corruption through which Uganda has passed since 1986 and it was obvious, from such scandals as the 2005 Global Fund theft, the 2007 Chogm swindle and the Office of the Prime Minister scandal, we are now at the final stage of corruption.

This is the systemic stage. The stage at which corruption is now an ecosystem, a fully-fledged, pervasive way of governance, way of life and structure of society itself. Everyone, the honest and the dishonest, is caught up in it and depends on it for their livelihood. Before we get into a discussion on how an honest person can survive in this corrupt environment, we need to have a look at exactly how widespread this corruption has become.

Today, unfortunately, everyone in Uganda has been dragged directly or indirectly into this corrupt ecosystem. Our very existence depends on it. The economic structure of Ugandan society --- seen in such things as the very high commercial bank interest rates and the higher interest rates charged by the “loan sharks”, the lack of financial security among the civil service that controls much of the day-to-day decision-making and administrative activity most Ugandans have to deal with, and the breakdown of the free or low-cost society services like healthcare and education we once enjoyed --- means that the only way one can survive for more than a year in Uganda is to become part of the corrupt system.

The Susan illustration

If, say, Susan starts a health club in Bugolobi or Ntinda, she will have got a bank loan or invested her savings to get it going. Susan is an upright, professional person. She pays her taxes and does everything within the law. But because of the difficult economic conditions in the country, the majority of her clients at the health club, the ones who can afford her membership fee (if she is to break even and repay her bank loan) will be the very civil servants, businessmen, politicians, military officers and corporate types who spend all week looting the National Treasury, evading taxes or using their offices to unfairly gain contracts and tenders.

Susan, in other words, has no choice but depend on the very people that she privately abhors for their corrupt ways, if her own business is to survive. Honest architectural firms, land dealers, high end private schools, forex bureaus and others like these, find themselves, like Susan, forced to accept as clients the very same corrupt people who are destroying Uganda.

This same sad state of affairs is to been seen everywhere, especially in the smaller towns and rural villages. Fundraising events at churches are attended by area politicians and civil servants who are always in the news for stealing public money, but the church now finds itself depending on their “generosity” to raise the money to complete the roof or altar simply because the church’s own humble village parishioners are too poor to afford it.

Many very honest Ugandans still find themselves working for private companies or in government ministries and agencies that are rotten with corruption. The media has done much to expose and report on the looting of Uganda’s public assets and money. But even then, it has to go about it in a certain way. Newspapers, television and radio stations need advertisement in order to cover their operating costs.

Many of these adverts are placed by companies involved in the same tax evasion and bribery of government, immigration and tax officials that the media spends its time reporting on and condemning. And since the government, in recent years, has become increasingly intolerant of criticism, the media speaks out boldly and in general vague terms against corruption but I notice it is always careful never to mention President Museveni by name.

That is, directly pointing an accusing finger at him as a possible grandmaster in this massive and unprecedented corruption in Uganda. Editors, reporters, columnists and radio talk show hosts know all that is going on but in public and in their pages, choose to condemn corruption in passionate but careful terms not to mention the President directly. Like the rest of Ugandan society, the media has been caught up in this ecosystem of corruption by which it is impossible to survive if one is too principled, too outspoken, and too honest.

Civil society groups and NGOs themselves have played a key role alongside the media in crying out against corruption, but like the media they too exist in this system. They cannot risk chopping the tree at its trunk and so, like most of us, beat about the bush or prune off only the dead branches and leaves of the tree.

When health, poverty dictate

When principled politicians opposed to the widespread corruption fall seriously sick and require specialised medical attention, usually outside the country (since Uganda’s public healthcare system has collapsed), they find themselves forced to accept an offer by the President to foot their hospital bills, the very President who has sat back and watched the government hospitals sink into rot.

And on and on the story goes: many genuinely honest Ugandans or foreigners working and living in Uganda are being forced into the humiliating and disturbing position of having to co-exist with the thieves or have the thieves as their main clients if their businesses are to survive.

Other Ugandans who are not corrupt, work hard at their jobs and businesses without directly coming into contact with the thieves or the corrupt State, maintain their high ethical standards. But they too make a major compromise: they essentially take a vow of silence. In order for their law firms, florist and bookshops, restaurants, dental clinics, FM radio stations, import business and accounting firms to survive in Uganda, they choose to avoid anything political, especially making sure they are not seen to be close to opposition parties and keep their political views to themselves.

They basically decide to keep quiet in exchange for the State not bothering them. To keep quiet, to never speak out at all when one’s own country is being destroyed by flat-out mass looting of the national treasury --- is in itself another form of taking part in the corruption or at least being guilty by association or guilty by some kind of inexcusable silence.

In the Biblical New Testament the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, brought a demanding new dimension to public and private morality, arguing often that the one who does nothing when a crime is being committed or who looks the other way in the face of major injustices is as guilty in the Eternal Divine’s eyes as the one who actually and actively commits the crime.

Or to paraphrase the titles of two 1990s Kevin Costner films, the “Silence of the Lambs” is as much a danger to society as the “Dances with Wolves”.


Gangster’s paradise: The Feudal Republic of Uganda

Tuesday, 02 November 2010 09:37

By Timothy Kalyegira

National events at Kololo Airstrip in Kampala like Independence Day, Labour Day and others used to last about two hours. Since 2008, they have started taking on the feel of mammoth, all-day festivals.

The main reason is that as President Yoweri Museveni has gotten more insecure in power and in his mind, a whole movement has developed to reassure him that he is still loved by his people and his stay in power is not something that should worry him.

To demonstrate this (and, no doubt, to secure their jobs and gain favours), Resident District Commissioners and NRM party officials a few days before Independence Day made it their primary assignment to mobilise as many crowds, businesses, NGOs, government ministries, hospitals, schools, and paramilitary groups as possible to take part in the parade at Kololo Airstrip.

On October 9, 2010, this entered a new phase: for the first time in
Uganda’s history, nursery school infants were drafted into the march-past parade at Kololo.

Like the rest of society, these marching groups at Kololo have grasped the essential nature of Museveni’s regime in its latter stages.

It is essentially the Feudal Republic of Uganda that is now in place. Under this
Feudal Republic, there is no law, no order, no standard, there is no defining national ethos except that which flows from the person of Museveni.

If this feudal lord, who governs Uganda, decrees that your bank loan be forgiven or that you get millions of dollars from Bank of Uganda, you be appointed ambassador, your goods come in tax-free, you be given land to build a factory in a wetland or national park, or that your company is given the budget to promote Uganda’s image abroad, then that is it. His word becomes legal writ and law.

If Museveni looks favourably upon you today, your life can be instantaneously transformed like in the children’s fairly tales: today you are in rags; tomorrow you are a minister. Today you are selling maize at a street corner; tomorrow you are the Chief Mobiliser for the NRM in eastern

The question, then, is how do you get Museveni’s attention? You can send your school to march at Kololo, or you can publicly declare your undying support for him.

As a struggling Ugandan singer, you can compose a song titled “Amelia” whose lyrics sound curiously like an anthem in praise of the former Principal Private Secretary to the President, Amelia Kyambadde or you can write a song in praise of Museveni.

Either way, you will be guaranteed, not sales, but that one of these two will buy your master copy for 5,000 dollars, or that small radio stations in the countryside will be forced by RDCs to play these songs, as a way to justify their jobs, or when you the singer gets into trouble next time after fighting in a bar, the police will let you go scot-free or the president will pay your medical bills.

The Ugandan singer Bobi Wine captured this new order of things best in his 2006 song Kiwani, in which he had the lyrics “Buli omu asiba kiwani” (“Everybody engages in fraud”).

A good illustration of how deep this state of national kiwani has penetrated every corner and area of life, came in the Miss Uganda beauty contest in September. Apparently, there were three leading contenders: the contestant who was favoured by the audience, the one who was the choice of the judges, and the one preferred by the organisers.

Like so many such events, from elections to Uganda’s football administration, to the Pearl of Africa Music Awards, to the Miss Makerere beauty contest, to simple things like the choice of a cover subject for a newspaper or news magazine, the Miss Uganda contest resulted in the kind of controversy that flows from corruption, bribery of judges and officials that is now the Ugandan national character.

There are fraudsters in
Kampala nicknamed “Cubans” and also termed “mercenaries”. These are the young men and women who perform an important role in the economy. Their work is to sit exams or write academic theses on behalf of busy civil servants and corporate executives.

These ghost writers are the real brains behind most of the Bachelors, MBAs, and PhDs in
Uganda that Uganda’s middle class boasts today.

At another level, there is a whole group of professionals who have also developed and flourished around this fraudulent society.

Gynecologists and other personal doctors, lawyers, auditors, accountants, personal physical fitness trainers, and others who are contracted by
Uganda’s corrupt class are doing brisk business.

Whole industries, from airlines, travel agents, property brokers, chartered surveyors, architects, private schools, banks, hotels, telecom companies etc, have all risen to meet the needs and ride on the purchasing power of this wealthy, corrupt, embezzling class.

A world of NGOs to fight or report on corruption has become a permanent feature of Ugandan life. So too have the NGOs, local and foreign, that have come to fill in the gap in the provision of basic social services and relief aid that has been created by the erosion of the state under Museveni.

Newspapers and radio stations that champion or claim to champion the fight against corruption have done well with audiences and publishing adverts and tenders by NGOs claiming or actually fighting corruption.

The media in general has also gained much by way of advertising from the many companies, investors, and individuals who either should never have been allowed to enter
Uganda, or should have been expelled by now, or who should be in jail.

Journalists who have reported on corruption have become national stars. Those who take bribes in order to suppress damaging stories on corruption have also done well, judging by the flashy cars and expensive property they own.

Certain Pentecostal churches whose pastors are close to State House or which are generally sympathetic to the NRM government have gained much in prestige, contributions by their parishioners and occasional moral support or political and legal cover from the state.

On average, the salaries of most people in the civil service, the corporate and NGO community is only about one third of their monthly incomes. The other two thirds is topped up in this climate of hustling, bribes, tax evasion, raising vouchers and allowance claim forms, inflating invoices and tenders and outright theft.

Last month, David Mukholi, the editor of the Sunday Vision newspaper, said on a Wednesday journalists’ show on Vision Voice that news and investigation stories on corruption no longer sell.

This might be partly because the public has grown weary of reports on corruption, since they know nothing will be done about them anyway; but also it might suggest that corruption is now a majority culture, in the same way Christianity is the majority religion in
Uganda, and so few are interested in having it exposed.

The state of lawlessness that characterises
Uganda today has been amazingly beneficial to hundreds of thousands of Ugandans, especially in Kampala. This is because, like all systems once entrenched, it has taken on a formal, organised, routine, checks and balances character of its own.

And like all systems, to disrupt it is destabilising and can be a source of national instability as disrupting a system founded on merit and the observance of law and order.

When UPC party president Olara Otunnu called for a boycott of the 2011 general election unless the current Electoral Commission is reformed or changed, his call was opposed by the main opposition party the FDC and by a surprising number of UPC members.

This was odd, since the FDC has been a victim of rigged elections for a decade and should know better than to have faith that the 2011 election will be different. Once again, what normally defies logic in
Uganda is, surprisingly, logical in its own way.

Most Ugandans know that the forthcoming election will be rigged. The NRM party primaries alone were a foreshadow of what is to come. However, there is more than meets the eye. Whenever elections loom, with them comes a whole industry from which many thousands of Ugandans gain and it trickles down to the ordinary people.

It is not just the impoverished villagers who the media usually portrays as receiving a pathetic bribe of sugar and soap.

Campaign managers, touts who traverse the villages rallying support, the printers who get the jobs to produce campaign posters, treasurers of candidates, candidates themselves, boda boda cyclists who blow their horns and transport supporters, the bars that sell booze to crowds, those who cook food to sell at rallies, journalists who take bribes to write in praise of or interview certain candidates on radio, men who spend all day playing Ludo or arguing about Manchester United who are suddenly elected councillors or even MPs--- all these gain in a major way from the elections, even though the occupant at State House might not change.

This election industry, with it characteristic bribes, unexplained money coming in from governments in the region trying to influence the outcome of the election in Uganda or political parties and trade unions in Europe, western embassies in Kampala, plays a vital role in the Ugandan economy and so there was no surprise that political parties that know for certain that 2011 will see, if anything, much more rigging than before, still felt they had to take part in it.

When Museveni finally leaves power some day, this is the legacy that will last the longest and take the longest and the greatest effort to uproot.

A generation of Ugandans will have been born that has no understanding whatsoever of what institutions mean, what merit is, what procedure and method are, and how to earn a living by the process of systematic, incremental work, followed by payment and personal savings.

They will not know or have the patience to queue up for anything, to wait for longer than a week for a tender or results of an interview to be made public.

The only thing they will have known and which works for them is the life of what in Kampala slang these days is termed “Okuyiya”, a term describing the gambling, scheming, lying, issuing bouncing cheques, acting the sycophant, bending or breaking laws and rules and evading taxes or doctoring academic certificates that is life in Uganda and how most people survive.

To every obstacle in their path, the solution is to call afande so-and-so, call somebody or State House, call up a cousin in intelligence, a brother in the army, a contact on the job interview panel, a friend in the Uganda Revenue Authority, or somebody at border immigration control.

Many Ugandans and foreigners lament the state of affairs in
Uganda today, from the rundown infrastructure, roads, police stations, to the nepotism on corruption. In truth, this is largely a moralistic cry, usually characterised by crocodile tears.

The fact is, for the majority of Ugandans there is no system and way of life they can enjoy better than what they have grown used to in
Uganda today.

Uganda, you can toss a mineral water bottle out of a car window. You can drive on the left or the right, depending on what pleases you. You can zoom past pedestrians at a zebra crossing etc.

You can use three different names to transact business. A newspaper with a circulation of only 1,200 copies can get the same full-colour, full-page advert as a newspaper with a circulation of 35,000 copies, depending on who one bribes for the adverts.

At first one is tempted to feel sorry for doctors who work in government hospitals or police officers in their shabby offices, until one realises that they don’t seem to be that bothered.

This is because amid that confusion and broken down infrastructure are hefty benefits to be enjoyed. Families of arrested suspects and criminals can pay a CID officer or District Police Commander to release a relative.

Traffic policemen who stand on duty along roadsides are often not exactly suffering, when it is learnt how much they earn in bribes from offending drivers.

Teachers in miserable government schools or at
Makerere University can either be paid to award marks to students for cash or sex.

Foreign businessmen and companies have also discovered this about
Uganda and, while there is much lamentation by purists that Uganda is too corrupt to do business in, actually Uganda is just the right environment in which certain types of crafty companies and entrepreneurs can do business. It is a gangster’s paradise.

You import expired goods? No problem. Nobody will ask. You bring in unskilled labour from
India. Kawa, life will go on. You evade taxes? Who pays taxes, anyway?

In this sense, Uganda has shaken off the last vestiges of the old colonial system of order, merit, method, standards, bureaucracy and moved on to a strange state of nature in which the country has one of the highest rates of social mobility on earth.

Office sweeper today, RDC tomorrow. Failure at school today, MBA holder tomorrow. Sergeant today, Brigadier tomorrow. Struggling small-time trader today, property mogul tomorrow. Teacher today, women’s MP tomorrow. Convicted thief today, presidential advisor tomorrow. Freelance reporter today, Managing Editor tomorrow. Wanted by police today for fraud, operations director at the Internal Security Organisation tomorrow.

This is why many Ugandans don’t seem as bothered by the potholes in
Kampala as the media expects them to be. Not that they don’t see or suffer through them. It is just that there are so many benefits that have also come with operating in Uganda, benefits that more than compensate for the lack or order, accountability, merit, bureaucracy and the rule of law.

Cabinet ministers do not have any real powers and they know it. However, they also know something else: what apparently appears like offices without powers actually do have certain hidden powers.

A prospective investor flies into
Uganda from China or France and at some stage he gets to meet the minister in charge of the investor’s area of interest. To obtain the minister’s signature, the investor pays handsomely in a bribe.

So in that sense, all of Uganda’s cabinet ministers, ministers of state, resident district commissioners, members of parliament, permanent secretaries, commissioners, and a whole host of other public and civil service officials, while appearing to have no real authority in a system that barely functions, actually have much greater power than they would have enjoyed had Uganda had institutions that work.

Because of this, an entire middle class has emerged since 1986 that is built on dishonesty and fraud. So entrenched is it that any attempt to reform
Uganda and genuinely root out corruption would destabilise the country.

Museveni found Uganda a struggling military-dominated, post-colonial republic in 1986. He will leave it a feudal state similar to an African kingdom of the 19th century.

OPM cash spent on Museveni election pledge


Posted  Thursday, November 29  2012 at  02:00

In Summary
OPM funds spent on fulfilling presidential campaign pledges
President Museveni has been dragged into the corruption saga rocking the Office of the Prime Minister.

It was revealed yesterday that billions of shillings were diverted from the northern Uganda post-war recovery programme to pay for one of his unfulfilled re-election campaign promises. The Public Accounts Committee, which is investigatng the abuse of more than Shs50b meant for the programme heard that more than Shs6.2 billion was used to supplement the procurement of a ferry President Museveni had promised during his campaigns.

Sources from where the said ferry was supposed to be deployed, however, say that to date there is no proof it has ever been delivered.

The President is said to have made the pledge during past re-election campaigns in Teso Sub-region.

The PAC vice chairperson, Mr Paul Mwiru, criticised Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana, who was appearing in the committee for the second consecutive day, for diverting the money. Mr Mwiru said he was fulfilling a presidential pledge.

Mr Mwiru also pointed out to the OPM top official that the ferry had already been budgeted for under the Ministry of Works, not the OPM. “There was a political decision to have a ferry on Lake Kyoga and the political direction pushed it to start with Lake Bisina. If you want my answer on this issue, my response is that there was a political decision,” Mr Bigirimana said.

The PS did not tell the committee who ordered him to divert the money but MPs said they had information that PRDP money was diverted to the President Museveni’s pledge.

No evidence was presented to prove that this ferry was bought, raising fears that the money might have been spent on a ghost activity. Documents before PAC show that the OPM sent the money to Ministry of Works in May.

The MPs heard that the accountability documents from Works were not availed to the Auditor General for review. Another Shs1 billion was also withdrawn on claims that it was needed to transport the ferry. But Mr Bigirimana yesterday denied knowledge of this money. This was raised by Mr Shaban Wejula, the former principal internal auditor, who had detected the scam in OPM but was removed under unclear circumstances.

Mr Bigirimana apologised to the committee over another Shs150 million irregularly paid to Nakaseke District and another Shs207.9 million released to Akamba Ltd. However, details of these payments could not be established as cash books and vouchers were not availed for audit.

The committee also accused Mr Bigirimana of propagating the fraud at OPM because as far back as January 2011, he wrote a letter to the Accountant General asking him to release PRDP money in Bank of Uganda. “… the Accountant General failed to send the money to the Consolidated Fund and decided to release money to holding account. I want you to understand the problem was finance,” Mr Bigirimana said.

Yesterday, Mr Bigirimana threatened to stop answering questions from members after the committee lead counsel told him that by requesting funds from Finance, “you were either reckless, or you don’t know what you were doing or even fraudulent or both.”