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Government to amend laws regulating media industry.

By Racheal Nuwahereza

Government of Uganda has revealed that the process to amend the laws regulating the Media Industry in Uganda has already begun.

On Tuesday, Uganda joined the World to commemorate the World Press Freedom Day with a range of activities organized by Uganda Human Rights Commission at ICT Hub in Nakawa.

Godfrey Kabyanga Baluku, the Minister of State for ICT and National Guidance noted that a committee has been put in place to have these ideas collected and later the amendment geared towards improving on the performance of the media as it also considers the social media platforms.

Baluku noted that the 360 radio stations are too many, with most of them employing comedians who make fun of important issues in the country and prioritizing playing music more than news.

Speaking at the same function, Uganda Human Rights Commission Chairperson Mariam Wangadya asked journalists to be professional while doing their work and castigated Uganda’s security agents for always leading the queue in violating press freedom in Uganda.

Meanwhile, opposition’s Democratic Party wants the government to work closely with the media owners to address the welfare of the practicing media personnel.

Addressing the news Conference at the party offices on Tuesday, Gerald Siranda, the Party Secretary General, argued that this will save media professionals from seeking greener pastures as well as promote independence reporting.

This comes at a time when Uganda’s Press Freedom Index is worsening with the latest release ranking Uganda at position 132 globally.

Journalists decry poor pay and poor working conditions

By Racheal Nuwahereza

As the world celebrates the World press freedom day, journalists in Uganda have decried the poor working conditions and poor pay.

A section of journalists said celebrating the world press freedom day serves no meaning since a number of journalists are either paid poorly or not paid at all.

“We are still restricted in terms of access to information as we try to inform the public. Also, there is lack of proper unification; most bosses for some of our colleagues have a bad habit of poorly paying journalists or not paying at all. Many of our colleagues have gone years and months without pay. I believe we need one voice, where our grievances can be handled lawfully,” Ndugu Brian Ampumuza, a freelance journalist.

 “Journalists are still not respected enough, our colleagues are beaten while covering news stories and there is limited access to some crucial information. We are not allowed to do our jobs, yet we even deserve to be protected by government,” said Paddy Byaruhanga, a journalist with Kazo FM.

“Most of us journalists are entangled in politics; we end up doing more public relations stories than journalism work. We are extremely partisan, not objective at all, we have conflict of interest and it affects the quality of journalism in this country,” said Darius Kanyangoga, a freelance journalist.

An independent study by Kazo FM has revealed that although, the 2006 Employment Act requires employers to make timely payment of remuneration to the employees, most journalists don’t get paid and some take long to be paid and when these journalists speak out, they are threatened with dismissal from their places of work and this has greatly affected the quality of output in journalism.

In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly declared May 3rd May to be World Press Freedom Day to evaluate press freedom, observe and raise awareness about the importance of freedom of press, defend the media from attacks on their independence, pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives while exercising their profession and remind journalists of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal declaration of Human Rights.

According to United Nations (UN) information page, the 2022 commemoration under the theme “Journalism Under Digital Siege” was intended to highlight the multiple ways in which surveillance and digitally mediated attacks endanger journalists and journalism.

Inspectorate of Government recovers UGX4bn in 4 years

By Racheal Nuwahereza

The Inspectorate of Government has recovered about UGX 4bn from misappropriated and misallocated funds between 2018 and 2021.

During an engagement with district chairpersons in Kampala, Anne Muhairwe Twinomugisha, the Deputy Inspector General of Government revealed that during the same period over 4,000 cases were investigated and completed leading to the arrest and prosecution of 97 public officers.

According to the 2021 survey by the Inspectorate of Government, the Ugandan government loses UGX 20 trillion every year to corruption with at least UGX 131bn lost through taxation, 459bn lost in user fees utilities, 820bn lost in natural resources,15bn lost in environmental degradation, 2bn lost as a result of absenteeism in government departments, 451bn lost in health care and education services, 86bn in security provision, 590bn in procurement and budgeting, and 233bn in regulation.

Muhairwe urged the leaders at local government level and their people to join the fight against corruption to ensure that it is a success.

Supreme Court fire: Police speaks out

By Racheal Nuwahereza

Several documents are feared destroyed following a fire outbreak at the Supreme Court building in Kololo, Kampala on Wednesday morning.

Fred Enanga, the Police spokesperson revealed in a statement released April 27th 2022, that the fire which started at around 10.12am  at the Supreme Court, located at Plot 10, Upper Hill, in Kololo was rapidly and promptly responded to by the Directorate of Fire and Rescue Services.

The statement revealed that first firefighting crew that was dispatched from the Kololo Independence Grounds, arrived within five minutes and found heavy flames and smoke, coming from the Chambers of The Chief Justice. They immediately entered the building and aggressively started fighting the fire in the Chambers. They were joined by additional firefighters from the headquarters forming a total of 16 crew members in four firefighting trucks who attended to the scene and quickly put out the fire within 30minutes.

“Their efforts prevented the fire from spreading to the offices of His Lordship the Chief Justice and other adjacent offices,” partly read the statement.

“We are grateful that there were no injuries or lives lost. Only furniture and the AC system, inside the Chambers got burnt. We want to greatly thank the firefighters, for saving the multibillion complex and other properties in the building from getting burnt,” said Enanga in a statement.

An eye witness who preferred anonymity told our reporter that by the time the fire broke out, Justices Eldard Mwangusha and Mike Chibita had reported for duty. 

Adding that the fire broke out when a woman opened the door next to the Chief Justice’s chambers and switched on the light, which triggered a blast. The source further alleges that the fire burnt a number of vital documents in the chambers.

Jameson Karemani, the Judiciary spokesman told journalists that only one chamber has been affected and there were no causalities.

“Apart from the few things, which were burnt, no much damage was done,” said Karemani.

He said preliminary findings indicate that the fire could have emerged from a faulty air conditioning system but said that police will explain more.

Enanga said that the Director of CID, visited the scene with a team of experts from Forensics, Fire and Rescue, Electrical Engineers and Consultants to establish the cause of fire.

“A report revealing their findings will be released accordingly. We call upon the public to remain calm and further remind them to adopt better fire detection and protection measures. Remember fire can start anywhere and anytime. It is therefore, everyone’s role to fight fires,” said Enanga.

Teachers, too vulnerable to afford strikes- Prof Mushemeza

By Racheal Nuwahereza

Prof. Elijah Dickens Mushemeza, the Member of Parliament Sheema South Constituency has told teachers to stop the tendency of disturbing the President and government with demands to increase their salaries stressing that they are poor and needy and should patiently wait until government answers them.

Prof Mushemeza made the remarks during his address at Kitagata town council headquarters at a function to raise awareness about Malaria in Sheema Sub-County on Monday, where he said that most teachers have failed to know themselves that they are poor and needy and resorted to making noise that won’t help them.

‘’You teachers, its true President Museveni promised to increase your salaries but we are still in economic crisis and these things of putting President on pressure won’t work for you. By the way let me tell you open truth, those who need teaching jobs are as many as I can say, we have so many professional teachers, if you strike, we shall chase you all and employ those who need jobs” said Mushemeza.

Prof Mushemeza further intimidated teachers saying teachers that it is very hard for a poor person to make a successful strike and that whoever strikes again, he or she will be chased.

“I want to assure you in a broad day light that you can’t afford strikes. First of all you’re poor, needy and vulnerable, you can’t strike and you spend even three days at home not working,” he added.

Prof Mushemeza was a lecturer at Ankole Western University before he joined Parliament to represent people of Sheema south as an independent candidate.

During the same address, Prof Mushemeza told residents of Sheema that they should get used to the current high prices of commodities saying that it’s just the beginning adding that in a few coming months, the situation is likely to be worse.

Transport fares increased over rising fuel prices

By Racheal Nuwahereza

Taxi operators under their umbrella body; Uganda Taxi Operators Federation (UTOF) have agreed to raise transport fares across the country citing the rising fuel prices.

During their meeting held at the UTOF offices in Kampala on Thursday, UTOF approved the increment in transport fare with effect from Friday 22nd April.

Rashid Mugenyi Sekandi, the chairperson UTOF, asked passengers not to be surprised by the increased fare but to bear with them as they unanimously agreed to increase the fares due to increased costs of operation.

“We had thought of increasing the fare starting next week but members decided that it should be effected starting tomorrow (Friday),” said Sekandi.

 “We have increased the transport fares but it is not much, for example town routes have increased by Shs500 for 20km-30km, Shs1,000 for 30km-80km, Shs2,000 for 80km-120km, then long routes have increased between 3,000 and Shs5,000 depending on the distance,” said Sekandi.

Passengers stranded after transport fares were hiked in June 2021. (File Photo)

Moses Birungi, the UTOF Spokesperson, says petrol and diesel pump prices now exceed Shs5,000 per litre at many petrol stations countrywide, a situation that has left them with no choice but to increase the fares.

Sekandi also revealed that they had reached out to the Minister of Works and Transport, Gen Katumba Wamala on Monday who said that the government has no alternative on the fuel crisis.

On April 21, UTOF through a document notified the Ministry of Transport and Works (MoWT) about the changes made in the public transport service, expressing their concern about the daily increasing prices of fuel.

Nelson Ssekandi, the chairperson of Kisenyi and Namayiba bus terminal revealed that at least 95 percent of the bus owners are willing to increase the fares.

Ssekandi said that association of bus operators has called for an emergency meeting on Monday where they will engage the stake regulators and see what to do on the fares of the transport.

“We heard that the taxi operators were to increase the fares by next week.  But we as bus operators, we have a body that governs us; Uganda Bus Owners Association (UBOA). Before we increase the fares, we have to get the directors and bus operators to have a meeting first,” said Ssekandi.

Ssekandi added that Buses that move across East Africa have already increased their fares. “For example they have been charging Shs120,000 from Kampala to Nairobi now it is Shs180,000-Shs200,000.  For South Sudan, they have been charging Shs150,000, but now it is Shs200,000 all because of fuel. Passengers cannot afford the new fares across East Africa, they have now resorted to carrying cargo,” Ssekandi noted

He also appealed to the government to revise the issues of fuel prices because people are running away from business.

Responding to the call on government intervention, Suzan Kataike, the Senior Public relations officer at MoWT, said the ministry has not yet endorsed the proposal of hiking transport fares.

“We requested them to submit their proposals. It is only after they have presented the proposals that the ministry will be able to assess and come up with an agreeable position,’’ said Kataike.

President Museveni pledges UGX 1bn towards Martyrs day celebrations, Fort-portal Cathedral renovation.

By Racheal Nuwahereza

President Yoweri Museveni has pledged to contribute UGX1 billion to Fort Portal Diocese towards the Fort Portal cathedral roofing, the Virika Cathedral renovation and preparations for June 3rd Martyr’s Day celebrations at Namugongo.

The president made this promise on Wednesday afternoon during a meeting with leaders from Kabarole and eminent members of the Fort Portal Catholic Diocese at his country home in Rwakitura, Kiruhura District.

The delegation that met and held discussions with the president was led by the Minister of Tourism, Hon. Tom Butime, Bishop of Fort Portal catholic diocese, Rt. Rev. Robert Muhiirwa, Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze (who is spearheading the mobilization exercise), the MP Fort Portal central Division, Hon. Alex Ruhunda and Monsignor Isaiah Mayombo among others.

“I am going to give you Shs1 billion for the two, i.e. the cathedral roof and Martyrs Day preparations. As a custom, the celebration of this noble event is preceded by numerous preparations with spiritual and material mobilization,” said Museveni.

Uganda Episcopal Conference selected Fort Portal Diocese to spearhead the preparations for this year’s Martyrs Day slated on June 3, 2022.

This year’s celebrations will be the second Martyrs celebrations led by the Fort Portal Diocese since 1997; 25 years ago.

Museveni’s pledge comes almost a month after Fort Portal Diocese launched a fundraising campaign to raise approximately UGX 1b it needed to lead this year’s Uganda Martyrs celebrations.

“Thank you Excellency for giving us an opportunity to meet and share with you issues of Fort portal diocese and Toro development in general. And thank you again sir for your support of UGX 1b towards Virika Cathedral Renovation and preparations for Celebration of martyr’s day at namugongo,” said Hon. Tumwebaze via his Twitter handle.

Hon Frank Tumwebaze’s comment on Twitter.

Robert Muhiirwa, the Bishop of Fort Portal Diocese, appreciated the President and revealed that the budgeted UGX1bn will cover a range of activities including liturgy, finance, protocol and security, catering, transport, construction, and decoration.

The celebrations shall be under the theme, “Baptised and sent to witness Christ with love and hope Mathew. 28:19, Romans. 8:35” which is a reflection of the way the martyrs died; they were men of faith baptized with water, but some were not yet baptized (baptism of blood).

Church of Uganda, NDA partner to end Drug abuse in schools

By Racheal Nuwahereza

National Drug Authority has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Anglican Church of Uganda (COU) intended to implement a school-based drug abuse prevention program in COU-founded secondary Schools.

The launch of this partnership that happened on Wednesday coincided with the visit of Archbishop of COU, the Most Rev Dr. Samuel Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu to inspect NDA’s quality control laboratory in Mulago.

COU Archbishop, Most. Rev. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu inspects the NDA control laboratory in Mulago before signing the MoU.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Kazimba said that the ultimate objective of this partnership is to help youths in secondary schools avoid initiation into the use of drugs and if they have already started, they are helped to stop it.

Kazimba said that drug abuse has become a global problem today especially among the youth and Africa is at cross roads as far as addressing the drug abuse problem is concerned.

COU Archbishop, Most Rev Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu giving his remarks at the launch of the campaign to end drug abuse in schools.

While referring to the African Union report 2020, Kaziimba reechoed that Africa will experience the largest growth in numbers of drug abuse by 2050 with drug abuse in East Africa is set to increase by 150% from 2 million to about 5.5 million by 2050.

“This is a challenge to us, drug abuse is predominantly a male problem, that’s why we need to give attention to the boy child because if we don’t we are losing,” he said.

Kaziimba revealed that males account for 90% of people getting drug abuse treatment.

Hellen Ndagije, the NDA head of product safety revealed that Kuba is the most common drug used in schools this is being packed in small packs and smuggled into schools.

She said the available drugs being used are in the form of biscuits, and sweets, and they are smuggled into schools.

She noted that the campaign which the organization has initiated in partnership with the church of Uganda will go a long way in curbing the vice.

Officials from NDA sign the MOU between NDA and COU on Wednesday.

Dr. Medard Bitekyerezo, the NDA Board Chairperson, noted that NDA has been deploying a multi-pronged approach including; creating and enhancing collaborations, physical and virtual engagements, use of information, Education and Communication tools and conducting research to end drug and substance abuse.

He said that the COU has for a long time exhibited strong stand against drug and substance abuse in its teachings, adding that they have been working with COU especially with the Northern Uganda Diocese to end the problem especially among the youths.

The MOU expects to widen NDA’s collaboration with the Anglican Church which notably has over 13 million believers in Uganda and is affiliated with several other institutions including schools, universities and media platforms.

“Faith based institutions are well positioned to reach almost all Ugandans as most of Ugandans have a religious inclination,” said Bitekyerezo.

In 2015, Uganda signed and ratified the United Nations (UN) Narcotic Convention, and passed a narcotic law which criminalizes substance abuse.

Late Oulanyah’s son endorsed for Omoro MP seat, other NRM aspirants to step down

By Racheal Nuwahereza

The National Resistance Movement (NRM) has endorsed Andrew Ojok Oulanyah, the son of the late Jacob Oulanyah as flag bearer for the Omoro Parliamentary seat ahead of the by-elections.

In a meeting organized by the NRM secretariat led by Richard Todwong, the NRM secretary general, held at the president’s country home in Rwakitura, Kiruhura district on Tuesday, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the National Chairman of NRM held discussions with the leaders over the Omoro county constituency by-election.

During the meeting between President Museveni, the District executive committee, the aspirants, cultural, religious and opinion leaders from Omoro District, the five aspirants were given an opportunity to sell their candidature and the other four aspirants from the NRM agreed to step down in favour of the late Oulanyah’s son to continue with his father’s term in the August house, leaving him unopposed in the party.

This decision indicates that NRM will not hold any primaries for the Omoro seat.

“We have been interacting with them and have engaged them to have one person. Cultural leaders and religious leaders have participated in the mediation process,” revealed Todwong.

The aspirants included, Ojok Andrew Oulanyah, Okello Douglas Peter (current LCV chairperson), Olal Obong, Acellam Ben, and Okello Francis.

The president commended leaders from Omoro district for mediating the four aspirants and also thanked the aspirants for listening to their leaders, putting the party first before themselves and agreeing to step aside for a smooth process. Adding it is a matter of decency but also avoiding wastage of time.

“People get tired of endless elections. If Oulanyah had not died, we would not have elections in that area until 2026. If there is a sentiment that one of the children of Oulanyah stands in for him and for us, I think it is really decent to support his son to complete the father’s term. Let the boy go. If he is given a chance and he doesn’t perform in the remaining 3 years, you can come and compete with him in 2026,” said Museveni.

In the recently released programme for by-election of Member of Parliament for Omoro County Constituency, Omoro District, the Electoral Commission stated that the nomination of candidates will be conducted at Omoro district council hall between May 12 – 13, 2022 and campaigns will run from May 16 to 24, 2022 before elections are held on May 26.

The Electoral programme for MP Omoro county By-election.

The Omoro County Constituency Parliamentary seat fell vacant following the death of the former Member of Parliament and former Speaker of Parliament, the Rt. Hon. Jacob L’Okori Oulanyah on March, 20, 2022 in Seattle, USA where he had been admitted.

Army worm invasion: Government outlines measures to fight the pest.

By Racheal Nuwahereza

The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has revealed intentions to procure and distribute over 3,001 litres of the recommended pesticides and appropriate gear required to beat back the raging African army worm invasion that has devastated crops in many parts of the country.

Fred Bwino Kyakulaga, the State Minister for Agriculture, said that the ministry has contacted various distributors of the relevant pesticides and advised them to ensure that enough stocks exist in the country especially nearer the affected communities to control the pest.

Kyakulaga revealed that one litre of pesticide which costs about UGX 20,000 can effectively contain one acre of affected crop/ pasture land. Adding that the government will continue to conduct surveillance and monitoring of the pest, with a view of minimizing its buildup and potential full-blown epidemic.

“Ministry Crop Inspectors have been dispatched to various affected districts to verify reports, establish the pest status as well as provide guidance to the district staff and farmers on the control measures,” said Kyakulaga in a statement.

In the Tuesday plenary sitting, Members of Parliament tasked Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja to present a report on the African armyworms that are ravaging crop gardens across the country and threatening food security in the country asking for immediate action to be taken by government.

Information received by the House indicates that more than 47 districts across the country including; Mukono, Wakiso, Katakwi, Bukedea, Bugweri, Serere, Busia, Bugiri, Mityana, Kiryandongo, Namutumba, Kumi, Luwero, Kasese, Masindi, Soroti, Nakapiripirit, Bulambuli, and Hoima have among others been invaded by the African armyworms that have left several acres of maize, millet and sorghum gardens destroyed.

In response, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja said that on Monday, cabinet got the report from the Minister of Agriculture about the issue and they came up with some resolutions, among which is the provision of pesticides to the different districts that have been affected.

Nabbanja appealed to MPs to support government in the fight against the armyworm in the different areas.

Dr. Stephen Byatwale, the commissioner in-charge of crop protection department in the Ministry of Agriculture recently said that the African Armyworm is a migratory moth suspected to have migrated from neighbouring countries renowned for higher temperatures into Uganda as a result of the climate change that the country is currently experiencing. Adding that the moth whose larvae stage is pest (army worm) causes a lot of losses to cereals.

“The caterpillars move in large numbers, attacking crop fields and that invasions are mostly common at the onset of the wet season. They feed on cereals including; maize, millet, sorghum and pastures. It has also been observed to also feed on sugarcane and wheat. In maize and other cereals, yield loss as a result of caterpillar feeding goes up to 100%,” he said.

The worst outbreak of the armyworm was reported in Kenya and Tanzania in 2001, where at least 157,000 hectares of cereals were destroyed.


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