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Will Buganda kingdom’s new legal body stop land grabbers?

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Justice Esther Kisakye (C) with the katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga (R), former Buganda attorneys general David Mpanga (L), Godfrey Lule (3rd L) and John Katende (2nd R) as well as the current attorney general Christopher Bwanika at the launch of Buganda Royal Law Chambers

One of the most pertinent issues in Uganda revolves around land, especially in Buganda region where many peasants are still struggling to register their land or kibanja due to lack of access to legal representation. As a result, illegal evictions and land-grabbing have become routine, something that has worried the kingdom leadership for years.

However, last week’s creation of the Buganda Royal Law Chambers could herald a new chapter in helping poor people with legal representation, writes DAVID LUMU.

On August 14, the cream of Buganda legal brains converged at Bulange gardens in Mengo to officially launch the Buganda Royal Law Chambers (BRLC), the new legal department for the kingdom.

Supreme court justice Esther Kitimbo Kisakye, who was the chief guest, described the move as a move long overdue; Charles Peter Mayiga, the katikkiro, praised it as a breakthrough while Christopher Bwanika, the kingdom attorney general, noted that BRLC is the turning point in the fight against land grabbers because it will offer access to justice for indigent Ugandans.

“One of the biggest challenges for Ugandans is to get legal representation because it is expensive. Even as a kingdom, we have been relying on the good relations with some top law firms to represent us, sometimes at no fees,” Bwanika said.

“The situation is much harder for individuals who have no financial capacity to get the best legal representation, especially when faced with an adversary who is intent on evicting them from land. So, BRLC comes in as a department to help those people in Buganda at a minimal fee and, where necessary, in the interest of public litigation, BRLC will do so on a pro bono arrangement. It is going to be a legal aid project. The fight to ensure that our people enjoy their fundamental human rights is a noble fight which we shall carry on with integrity.”

Bwanika also noted that with this new standing legal team, it shall also assist the kingdom to manage legal risks.

NEW DAWN

Since the restoration of Buganda kingdom in 1993, it has been striving to rebuild the pillars that constitute its heritage. According to Mayiga, the establishment of BRLC will make  it not only convenient for the kingdom to oblige with the law, but will also provide it with the requisite strategic direction as it endeavors to position itself in the general scheme of things in the country.

“For instance, we aspire for a federal system of government but such an aspiration is only attainable in full compliance with the rule of law and the Constitution. Therefore, BRLC will be pivotal in this regard,” he said.

“Presently, Uganda experiences episodes that challenge the rule of law like rampant land grabbing and unlawful occupation of land, the sporadic violations of human rights and economic deprivations that affect a big number of our people. The solution lies in an emphatic observance of the law and adherence to the constitutional provisions, however weak or inadequate the institutions that enforce them may be.”

Mayiga also decried what he described as some laws and court orders being morally repugnant.

“St Peter’s church Ndeeba was demolished following due process but the action of demolishing the church touches upon people’s spiritual inclinations and beliefs and I believe these ought to have been taken into account by the court,” he said.

FIRST ASSIGNMENT

In the same vein, he pointed out that there is a profound symbol of Buganda heritage at the same site in the form of Oluzzi Kalinda next to the church. “It is a royal spring that supplies water to the Kabaka during the coveted ritual of coronation of the Kabaka at Naggalabi, Buddo. Therefore, my first instruction to BRLC is to pursue all lawful means to secure, preserve and protect Oluzzi Kalinda,” he said.

On her part, Justice Kisakye commended Buganda kingdom and all those who conceived this idea. “I have no doubt that this initiative will bear high dividends for the kingdom,” she said. Kisakye, who will mark 11 years at the Supreme court in October, reinforced this notion, basing on a recent experience she had at the Supreme court, where she couldn’t hear a matter in which a kibanja holder, unbeknown of the court process, appealed to her for relief from eviction.

“I told him that he is in a wrong forum; however, I advised him to seek legal services from various organizations. So, I’m very proud to be here when the kingdom is launching a legal department whose mission is to provide legal aid to indigent Ugandans,” she noted.

“So, for the many senior counsels and members of the legal fraternity present, the kingdom has launched this initiative but it will not be able to carry out this function effectively if you don’t come to its assistance, especially in this area where some of the people who greatly need legal services cannot afford to pay for them. The country is crying out for justice.”

Also drawing from her experience as a lawyer at the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (Fida-Uganda) before she joined the bench, Kisakye said the creation of BRLC was long overdue.

“A lot of progress has been made since the kingdom resumed its activities 27 years ago. However, BRLC has been established at a time when the kingdom continues to face many challenges of a legal nature like the quest for a federal system of government in Uganda, the place of the Buganda kingdom within the current constitutional order, recovery of property confiscated by government as well as the issues of securing and enforcing competing rights in land within the overall legal regime governing land ownership and holding in Buganda. Then there is documentation and enforcement of unwritten Buganda customary law,” she said.

“We all know that the kingdom has over centuries produced positive values and customs which were saved by the 1995 Constitution but when these laws are unwritten, everyone interprets them as they choose. That’s why I believe it is time for us to move forward and I see the BRLC having a role here.

“So, given the challenges I have highlighted above, it is my conviction that BRLC will go a long way to assist the kingdom to render this service that is required but in short supply.”

Kisakye reiterated that she has no doubt BRLC will bring affordable, quality and efficient legal services to the kingdom but it would also go a long way to safeguard the interests of the kingdom of Buganda and its people.

“Addressing current and future challenges requires a team of professional and dedicated advocates who are willing to serve above self and who are committed to serving the kingdom with integrity,” she said.

Kisakye also delved into the controversy of the demolished church. “For those who have had the opportunity of reading the judgment, you can see that the lawyers could have done better. We can only judge the cases as good as they come. If you do not make [good] arguments before court, I may be the proud daughter of Buganda but I would follow the law. So, help develop our jurisprudence by presenting good arguments.”

She summed up the presentation by warning that as BRLC strives to be a centre of excellence, it should recruit the very best in legal practice. “I trust there are good brains that can build the institution that will make us all proud as well as safeguard and protect the BRLC brand. We look forward to seeing BRLC becoming a legal think-tank for the kingdom and its institutions.”

BACKGROUND

In practice, BRLC is now the official representative of all Buganda entities such as Buganda Land Board (BLB), Kabaka Foundation and Buganda Cultural and Development Foundation, among others.

According to Dennis Bugaya, the BLB spokesman, a similar institution that resembles BRLC was created under the 1900 Buganda agreement until the kingdom was abolished in 1966. “It used to fall under the office of Omulamuzi [judge]. Presently, Omulamuzi is the equivalent of Ssabawolereza (Attorney General); so, BRLC is equivalent to the Attorney General’s chambers,” he said. “This is now the reestablishment of the office.”





Source – observer.ug

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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