This week Ugandans saw and participated in different dramas that can only give you a glimpse into a nation in a moral dilemma.
Businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba was arrested at Entebbe International Airport as he attempted to leave the country after a four nights of a cat-and-mouse chase and several police summonses. For a week our intelligence couldn’t ascertain whether Basajjabalaba was in the country as his lawyer and also my shameless Member of Parliament Michael Mawanda lied to courts!
Basajjabalaba is wanted over fraud in connection with alleged forgery of a consent document, which led to payment of Shs142 billion by the government. This arose from the reversing of the then Kampala City Council decision to sell Nakasero, Shauriyako, and St. Balikuddembe (Owino) markets, and the Constitution Square to Mr Basajjabalaba.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 120,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
This song by Gambian artists made it online mid December 2012 . It’s worth listening to and admiring the work on African artists who produce for us music to face the current realities!
Happy first friday of 2013!
Shortly before Christmas, a young woman was killed in our republic. At only 24, she had already made a small mark on our democracy that many have struggled to make over 3 decades rule. Cerinah Nebanda was a parliamentarian. Her death was sudden, multi-organ failure. Rumours spread about who could have done this cruelty in a land where a fundamental change was delivered 27 years ago ensuring all Ugandans could finally sleep peacefully in their homes- something that was unheard of since our independence.
This death came as a shock in a year when we commemorated our 50 years of independence in a way that looked more like 27 years of independence. Many people scrambled for the microphone, some to with outrage, sorrow, fear and others to defend themselves. To wash themselves clean- even if it meant using words mixed with anger and threats. Some Ugandans left their thoughts online.
You couldn’t escape from the name Nebanda. In my small village in Kibona, Bushenyi, an older man came to my home to ask me about what could have killed this young woman – with a kind of worrisome voice I rarely get from him. In a country where every night a district is born, many local people are mostly pre-occupied with local politics. But name of Nebanda who hails from a village, more than 500kms from my own, found its way to my Christmas day. A government autopsy report told the citizens that the young woman’s death had to with narcotic drugs and everybody else trying to get a second expert opinion was apprehended.
It is that time of the year when we dedicate 16 days to remind the world of the endless need to eliminate violence against women.
November 25 is the International Day for the elimination of violence against women. In Uganda various organisations have done a good job using different media to pass the message that ought to be the everyday message to the population.
Tweetups, SMS campaigns, radio talkshows are all on to get Ugandans to understand that violence against a woman is violence against humanity too! That you can judge a society by the way it treats its women.
A week before November 25th, I read a thread on Facebook group that I am part of. It was about a female journalist from Bukedde who had died during childbirth.
We didn’t discuss much. It was just condolence messages although I felt this was time for us to reflect how close issues we cover are to our own lives. In Uganda everyday 16 mothers die due to childbirth. This is due to complications that could be prevented. In many ways maternal health is a social justice issue.
Just as this news was sinking in, another disturbing post came up. A female journalist had committed suicide. Moreen Ndagire, whom I didn’t know personally, was a Sub-editor at a Red Pepper, a leading tabloid in Uganda. At the age of 24, she had achieved quite a lot that not many youth can do in this country with a high unemployment rate.
On Friday, Uganda’s Premier announced Uganda would pull its troops out of all peacekeeping mission over accusations that Uganda and some generals were backing M23 in Eastern DRC.
But like most people said, the threat was politicking which Uganda seems to gain an upper hand since the UNSC president has already said the report doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the UN.
Could the views of UN be far from the contents of the report or could they be closer but UNSC will play safe in light of Uganda’s threats?
The UN Group of experts report will be out in about two weeks and seems by that time, Uganda and Rwanda and UN will have reached a settlement. This leaves the people of Congo in watching the same of old games.
Mineral looting vs security concerns
Uganda called the allegations in UN report baseless and complained that the UN wasn’t giving them credit where they have done well but this isn’t convincing. Our history in Congo shows that for every warlord that comes out strong, there’s a godfather in the neighbouring country.
This is done either by top generals in the armies with a blind eye of the presidents or big companies and agents who are trading in guns for minerals. And many times the companies have a link to the top leadership in east African countries. However this is not to ignore role of western and Chinese companies in this conflict.
When UN report on Congo was first leaked in July 2012, Uganda’s support for M23 was largely ignored. So it appeared like Kampala had gotten away with as the world attention was drawn to Rwanda’s involvement and support for M23. Neither did we hear of the role of Kabila in this conflict.
Following the leak, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in August came to Uganda and met president Museveni.
In the wake of the M23 military advances, the AU summit tasked the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to look at the renewed Congo conflict. President Museveni offered to broker the talks between government and M23 rebels, the offer which President Kabila’s government was against. Nonetheless Uganda hosted three summits.
Three months down the road, it was revealed that Uganda has not been a spectator as M23, a group of former fighters from CNDP- an ethnic Tutsi rebel movement, marched taking over territory with much more advanced arms.
Who are M23?
The report says Bosco Ntaganda, a former Congolese general nicknamed the Terminator, who is wanted by the international criminal court, controls the rebellion on the ground while Sultani Makenga is in charge of operations.
M23 fighters had been folded into the army three years ago but they walked out and started the fresh fighting “to force the government to honor its agreement.”