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Debate Driven by Facts not Opinions; Every Ugandan Needs a Dose of NALI



By Angela Ndagano

What role to do I have to play in transforming Uganda from a predominantly peasant low income country to a strong middle income country by 2040?  What’s my responsibility in ensuring Uganda remains a safe place? What is my role in safe guarding Uganda’s natural resources?

These questions have been running through my mind for the past days since I attended the Transformational Leadership Development Course for Government Communication officers at National Leadership institute(NALI) in Kyankwanzi.  Pondering these questions has led me to embark on a journey of self-discovery, a journey of appreciation, a journey of hope.

See, like many educated Ugandans, I speak ‘good English’ and attended what one may describe as the right schools. I like to talk talk about western politics with that all familiar hint of admiration and spend hours lamenting about the failures of our Government. We love to play the blame game, don’t we?

How often has a Ugandan smugly picked out that expensive product made in the UK amidst a maze of Ugandan made ones? The excuse is something about freedom of choice and the Ugandan product not being any good. Never mind that they have never tried it. The same person finds time to complain about why Uganda has “even failed to manufacture matches”.  Never mind that Uganda manufactures matches thank you very much.

As Educated Ugandans we very often speak without concrete information. A quick voyage around twitter will reveal this attitude in all its ignorant glory. We occasionally speak of the needs of ‘Omuntu wa wansi’ and blame the Government for not catering for their needs.  Yet, how many have read the current the National Development plan (NDP) and past NDPs which should be our guide to whether the State is delivering or not? The NDP sets the broad direction for the country and sets key objectives and targets upon which one could use to assess the performance of the country.

We would have more productive discussions if, regardless of political affiliation, we spoke from a point of knowledge. Knowledge which  is usually just a click away.

In the words of Major. Gen Kasura- Kyomukama, the Director of NALI, we suffer from secondary ignorance which he describes as ‘’ Not knowing that one doesn’t know’’.

It sounds harsh, doesn’t it?  See, I went to NALI expecting the stereotypical “Muchakamuchaka” experience. Anticipating to roll in mud and shoot an AK47. It however turned out to be a fully immersive intellectual experience, with some military drills in the mix of course. The weeks I spent at the Institute taught me a profound lesson; that humbling yourself at the face of truth is the beginning of learning. Our lack of knowledge puts us at a disadvantage because we are unable to correctly interpret the things around us.

How can one comprehend the present and future of Uganda for example, whilst they know only little of our history beyond what was taught in school? Perhaps having the knowledge that when Uganda became a British Protectorate on 18th June 1894, she was structured to be a primary producer for Britain’s raw materials could help us appreciate our struggle towards industrialisation and contribute positively to the discussion.

Possibly if we try to understand the Geography of the country, we shall look at things from a different perspective. Uganda is a landlocked country. How can (or perhaps how should) we citizens of a landlocked country question decisions to develop infrastructure with our trade partners in the region, like Congo?

Well, accepting that I don’t know is a painful pill that I’ve had to swallow. It’s sad that my generation has been blessed with an opportunity of endless information and yet we whirl in a sea of misinformation and argument driven by opinions and not facts.

Ultimately, I want to become a better Ugandan who is motivated by sacrifice and patriotic commitment to my country. Patriotism doesn’t mean undying devotion to a political party. Patriotism is the person in power proposing to contribute to building a road in Congo because of clear economic and geo-political reasons. Patriotism is the person on the other side of the isle taking time to appreciate those motives and making an informed contribution that takes Uganda forward. Boisterously screaming “Tax Payers’ money” will only create an echo chamber of inconsequential noise.

At NALI, I learnt that like Salvation, mind-set change is a journey.  I have hope because I understand that my mind-set is not inborn but developed over time, that it was constructed and can be res-constructed. I am ready to unlearn and learn.

The writer is a Government Communications Officer at the National Information Technology Authority-NITA-U.


The post Debate Driven by Facts not Opinions; Every Ugandan Needs a Dose of NALI first appeared on ChimpReports.

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Deadly blast in Pakistan near residence of armed group founder | Pakistan News




Three killed and 13 others wounded after explosion near house of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed in Lahore.

At least three people have been killed and 13 others wounded after an explosion near the residence of the founder of armed group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, hospital and police officials said.

The blast took place in the Johar Town area of the city, Pakistan’s second largest, on Wednesday, provincial police chief Inam Ghani said.

“The [Counter Terrorism Department] has taken over the site of the attack completely,” Ghani told reporters at the site of the blast shortly after it took place.

“The CTD will ascertain what it was, what material it was, what was used … and secondly, was it an [improvised explosive device] lodged in a vehicle, and whether it is a suicide attack or not.”

Ghani said a police picket that was set up near the home of a “high-value target” was the apparent target of the attack.

Television footage from the scene showed significant damage to a number of homes near the blast site [Arif Ali / AFP]

A residence belonging to Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the founder of LeT that is designated as a “terrorist” group under Pakistani law and by the United Nations, is located near the site of the blast.

“The biggest target that we see right now is that they are targeting law enforcement agencies,” Ghani said.

Television footage from the scene showed massive damage to a number of homes near the blast site, with windows smashed in, doors blown open and extensive damage to buildings close to the blast epicentre.

At least 16 wounded people were shifted to the nearby government-run Jinnah Hospital, with three of them succumbing to their wounds, a hospital official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera.

Six of the wounded were in a critical condition, the official said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Security officials inspect the site of the blast near Saeed’s residence [Rahat Dar/EPA]

LeT founder Saeed is blamed by the United States and India for being the “mastermind” behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed more than 160 people in a series of coordinated bombings and shootings across the Indian financial capital.

Saeed has denied any wrongdoing and currently runs the charitable wing of the LeT, called Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which has been designated by both Pakistan and the UN as a front for the armed group.

He was convicted and jailed last year in a series of terrorism financing cases lodged by the Pakistani government as it tightened financial laws and restrictions as part of its review by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) inter-governmental body.

A JuD spokesperson told the Reuters news agency that Saeed was in prison and therefore not in the residence that may have been targeted in Wednesday’s bombing.

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Explainer: What is the Delta Plus variant of COVID-19? | Coronavirus pandemic News




Scientists worry the mutation, coupled with other existing features of the Delta variant, could make it more transmissible.

India on Wednesday said it has found about 40 cases of the Delta coronavirus variant carrying a mutation that appears to make it more transmissible, and advised states to increase testing.

Here is what we know about the variant.

What is Delta Plus?

The variant, called Delta Plus in India, was first reported (PDF) in a Public Health England bulletin on June 11.

It is a sublineage of the Delta variant first detected in India and has acquired the spike protein mutation, called K417N, which is also found in the Beta variant first identified in South Africa.

Some scientists worry that the mutation, coupled with other existing features of the Delta variant, could make it more transmissible.

“The mutation K417N has been of interest as it is present in the Beta variant (B.1.351 lineage), which was reported to have immune evasion property,” India’s health ministry said in a statement.

Shahid Jameel, a top Indian virologist, said the K417N was known to reduce the effectiveness of a cocktail of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies.

Where all it has been found?

As of June 16 (PDF), at least 197 cases have been found in 11 countries – Britain (36), Canada (1), India (8), Japan (15), Nepal (3), Poland (9), Portugal (22), Russia (1), Switzerland (18), Turkey (1), the United States (83).

India said on Wednesday about 40 cases of the variant have been observed in the states of Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, with “no significant increase in prevalence”. The earliest case in India is from a sample taken on April 5.

Britain said its first five cases were sequenced on April 26 and they were contacts of individuals who had travelled from, or transited through, Nepal and Turkey.

No deaths were reported among the United Kingdom and Indian cases.

What are the worries?

Studies are continuing in India and globally to test the effectiveness of vaccines against this mutation.

“WHO is tracking this variant as part of the Delta variant, as we are doing for other Variants of Concern with additional mutations,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement sent to Reuters news agency.

“For the moment, this variant does not seem to be common, currently accounting for only a small fraction of the Delta sequences … Delta and other circulating Variants of Concern remain a higher public health risk as they have demonstrated increases in transmission,” it said.

But India’s health ministry warned that regions where it has been found “may need to enhance their public health response by focusing on surveillance, enhanced testing, quick contact-tracing and priority vaccination”.

There are worries Delta Plus would inflict another wave of infections on India after it emerged from the world’s worst surge in cases only recently.

“The mutation itself may not lead to a third wave in India – that also depends on COVID-appropriate behaviour, but it could be one of the reasons,” said Tarun Bhatnagar, a scientist with the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research.

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EU citizens in UK to be given 28 days to apply for settled status | Brexit News




People who miss the June 30 settlement scheme deadline will be issued warnings to apply or risk losing their rights.

European Union citizens living in the United Kingdom will be given a 28-day warning to apply for post-Brexit settled status or face losing some of their rights from next month, the government said on Tuesday.

The UK’s so-called settlement scheme for EU and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens, which opened in early 2019, closes on June 30.

It allows Europeans in the UK to retain the same residence, travel, employment and healthcare rights they had before Brexit.

The rules around the UK’s departure from the bloc, which came into force at the beginning of this year, ended the reciprocal freedom of movement.

About 5.6 million people and their dependents have applied for settled status under the scheme since it was introduced.

But about 400,000 cases still require processing, while many are rushing to submit their applications before next week’s deadline.

At the same time, messaging and outreach campaigns are targeting those who may not be aware of the need to apply by next week’s deadline.

Immigration minister Kevin Foster said anyone whose application was not filed by the deadline would not see their rights immediately withdrawn, as they were protected by law.

But he also ruled out extending the June 30 cutoff point.

“Put simply, extending the deadline is not the solution to reaching those people who have not yet applied, and we would just be in a position further down the line where we would be asked to extend again, creating more uncertainties,” Foster told members of a parliamentary committee.

He added that immigration enforcement officials would instead begin issuing 28-day notices to those yet to apply.

The UK’s Home Office, which oversees immigration, said that applications may also be submitted past the 28-day notice period in some cases.

“We’ll set up the support available and we’ll signpost people to make an application, but we do recognise that there may be some people who, after that 28 days, still haven’t been able to make an application,” a Home Office spokesman said, according to The Guardian newspaper.

“I think we would want to work with them to understand why that is the case, and then support them again to make the application.”

Foster said those who had missed the deadline on reasonable grounds will still be able to apply, citing exceptions such as children whose parents had failed to apply on their behalf, or individuals with a serious illness that had prevented them from filing their paperwork.

The government will also issue a “certificate of application” for those awaiting a decision, he added, which will act as proof of their right to work, rent property, obtain benefits and use the National Health Service.

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