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Opposition in Uganda: What is the End Game?



By Sarah Mukasa

On August 19, 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 captured nature of the State electoral process and infrastructure by a highly militarized elite 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 having been manipulated by Museveni, 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 disenfranchised and economically excluded 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 stranglehold on 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’?

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

Government, through grand corruption, incompetence, and dogged pursuit of the deeply erroneous market led to 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 tone deaf 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. It has become comfortable where it is, as it is, frothing its mightiness and dominion over the republic.

It’s spewing off in the deluded belief that it actually owns the country! That the country is a personal ATM. This is the where NRM has pitched its tent. It will not move. NRM belongs to the past. It is not about a post COVID future.

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, has already been fixed. 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 the moment is not an easy one either. NRM, we know that only do they not care, but they take us for granted.  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 too much for the country to lose with business as usual in our politics.


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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema



When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.


Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded




The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19




Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  

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