If you have been following Ugandan news in the last few days you couldn’t have missed that photo of President Yoweri Museveni handing over $100,000 to a loose group of youth from Busoga. Twitter and Facebook are still having discussions on this #sackofmoney.
The president was apparently fulfilling a promise he made during the 2011 elections. The president proudly announced his donation sending the crowd of ordinary Ugandans in a village into celebration. Museveni in the past has handed over brown envelopes to sustain his patronage and stay in power.
Uganda remained at the 110th position out of the 144 countries in the Global Information Technology Report 2013.
The Networked Readiness Index, calculated by the World Economic Forum, and INSEAD, ranks 144 economies based on:
their capacity to exploit the opportunities offered by the digital age. This capacity is determined by the quality of the regulatory, business and innovation environments, the degree of preparedness, the actual usage of ICTs, as well as the societal and economic impacts of ICTs. The assessment is based on a broad range of indicators from Internet access and adult literacy to mobile phone subscriptions and the availability of venture capital. In addition, indicators such as patent applications and e-government services gauge the social and economic impact of digitization.
I have just read the anti Pornography Bill that is currently before our parliament. This Bill was brought soon after the MPs stifled debate on the Marriage and Divorce Bill, which millions of Ugandans need urgently in place.
Lokodo’s anti-pornography bill however doesn’t just threaten women; it is attacking press freedom too. The media is portraying the Bill as a ‘mini-skirt’ law but if passed it has far reaching consequences on press freedom, freedom of expression, Internet freedom, right to privacy and culture.
According to the Bill
Pornography means any cultural practice, radio or television programme, writing, publication, advertisement, broadcast, upload on internet, display, entertainment, music, dance, picture, audio, video recording, show, exhibition or any combination of the preceeding that depicts (for now I concentrate on the clause) “Sexual parts of a person such as breasts, thighs, buttocks and genetalia.”
Last week I wrote about my feeling about the manner in which the debate on the Marriage and Divorce Bill was handled. I couldn’t’ write any better than Jacqueline Asiimwe, a lawyer who has been, for more than a decade, at the centre of the struggle for women’s rights in Uganda. Here is her personal note on the bill. We all can’t run or hide from realities and horrors in our homes. We all have similar stories like those of Jackie’s clients and her clients don’t come from outside our country. They are the silenced victims of our unfair laws and cultural practices. I am hearing that some MPs who have something left of their morals are returning the 5 million they were given for sham the consultations on a proposed law which Ugandan taxpayers had already spent over years. These stories are not just stories of poor, rural people, they are stories that we dont have to look far! They are our family’s stories, they are our stories. Hope Jackie’s note makes you realise how urgent this law reform is needed!
Were they just an ignorant lot or was there a deliberate plan to stifle the debate and probable passing of Marriage and Divorce Bill by Members of Parliament?
Why were they asked to carry out sham communities when consultations had already been done?
What about the promised 5 million shillings for the consultations?
Why did MPs persistently spread misinformation and lies about the Bill?
Why would almost all women members of parliament agree with the Bill?
Why did Museveni call them radical feminists when we all know that our female MPs are far away from the word feminist?
Last week i was travelling through Eastern Uganda, Tororo and Mbale in particular. In Tororo i found three women supported by MIFUMI who assemble solar lamps.
Rhoda Oketcho, Auma Odio and Magaret Opio took a six months course in Solar engineering in India in 2008. They are rural women without much education but with skills from India they are able to assemble lamps and make a decent living. I visited their small workshop and they said they earn atleast 60,000 shillings (USD 23 ) per month. In most of rural Uganda families use kerosene lamps for lighting, some homes cannot afford it and it pauses health risks.
Looking at these women’s work reminded me of the death of technical institutes in this country on the government’s watch. It is difficult to find places that impart skills for Ugandans who cannot afford a university education. Even for university graduates, many employers are struggling to find skilled ones.