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Opinion: Opposition in Uganda – What is the End Game?



By Sarah Mukasa

On 19 August 2020, retired Colonel Dr Kizza Besigye, announced that he will not be running for president in the forthcoming elections slated for February 2020.

His were extremely erudite and cogent reflections on the futility of seeking political change through the ballot box.

Such is the nature of the electoral process and infrastructure that has been entrenched by the 34-year hold on power by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government led by President Museveni.

Many pundits have long expressed serious doubt as to the efficacy of the electoral process in Uganda to deliver free and fair elections.

In response to his declaration, some FDC stalwarts are rumoured to be urging the formidable politician and global development icon Ms Winnie Byanyima to stand on the FDC ticket.

At the last count there were over 20 candidates intending to vie for the presidency in February 2021.

This at a time when almost all agree that the odds are weighed very unfavourably against them, appears odd and contradictory.

Two new contenders National Unity Platform (NUP) and Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), have made considerable impact, largely in weakening the older parties FDC, Democratic Party (DP) and Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), with exodus of significant players to join their ranks.

NUP led by Mr Robert Kyagulanyi through the People Party movement mobilized large numbers of young people throughout the country.

However, a dangerous narrative is ominously percolating around NUP, painting it as a ‘Buganda party’ – the subtext being that non-Baganda should be afraid.

ANT’s  leader Major General Mugisha Muntu, who left FDC to work on his plans to build a solid political party with local and national structures, policies and a post-Museveni development agenda, commands respect across the spectrum.

And whilst many agree that this is necessary and believe his sincerity, few believe that this is enough to dent, much less shift the NRM hold onto power.

The DP led by Mr Norbert Mao, and UPC led by Mr Jimmy Akena appear to be floundering under the weight of internal contestation and infighting. Each of these leaders seeking presidential office on their own party ticket is weak.

They weaken themselves in ways that leave many of us asking, ‘What is the end game for this band of (un) merry of these men?’ ‘Kigweera wa?’

Tough times

What the COVID 19 pandemic has shown us, is that if we are to survive, we cannot conduct business as usual.

Government through dogged pursuit of the deeply erroneous market led growth strategies touted by the Bretton Woods institutions have left this country vulnerable, saddled with odious debt and barely any prospects to withstand the economic and social pressures that have befallen us.

Even food, in this green and lush Uganda, the Uganda that with an ounce of seriousness could be the bread basket of the region; even food, we are now borrowing more than ever to import.

Even food after 34 years of NRM, is a problem. Those shocking lectures on stretching rationed posho during lockdown are nothing compared to what’s to come.

The moment calls for a different politics and a different vision. NRM will not do it. It simply does not have the capacity nor the willingness to do it.

One wonders if the opposition can shape a different future. For example, Dr Kizza Besigye, with your stepping back from the elections fray, can you take on a role that shapes our future?

For example, In the short term, are you able to endorse one of the opposition candidates and mobilise others to join hands across the party divides?

Are they able to coalesce on a clear agenda for the future of this country? Economically, socially, politically what can we expect that is different from the status quo? What is the end game?

This is not about winning dodgy scientific elections next year—whose outcome one can, with certainty predict.

It is about seeking a much larger pursuit – about rebuilding Uganda as a country in which we all have a space, and in which we all matter. It is not an easy ask.

But can the opposition show some coherence and seriousness not just about dislodging the incumbent, but display the mettle to govern if or when they assume power?

There is to much for the country to lose with business as usual in our politics.

The author is an economist 

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



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




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.

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




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”.

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