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Kitgum bishop goes to court over forced retirement





KITGUM - Tension is brewing in the Anglican diocese of Kitgum after its bishop, Benjamin Ojwang warned the province of the Church of Uganda that his retirement would contravene both canon and labour laws.

Ojwang, through his lawyer Charles Dalton Opwonya , wrote a “strong warning” to the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda Stanley Ntagali to desist from forcefully retiring him from office before his retirement age.

The 62-year-old bishop was due to retire in 2017 when he turns 65 – the mandatory age for retirement of a bishop in the Church of Uganda.

“The summons gives the Church of Uganda 14 days to answer to claims that the bishop is being pushed out illegally,” his lawyer said.

Ojwang became the second Bishop of Kitgum after peace-award winner Bishop McLeod Baker Ochola retired in 2002.

Since the beginning of his tenure, Ojwang has stirred controversies, suing the clergy and dismissing others.

In 2007, he was locked in the vestry of town parish church in Kitgum by a section of Christians who said they did not want him to lead the church service.

Two years later, an uprising against his administration led to the formation of the Concerned Christians Association in the diocese.

“It is this group, led by some priests, that is pushing for the illegal removal of the bishop from office,” the bishop’s lawyer Opwonya said.

Those who want him out accuse the bishop of favouring the Christians of Agago and Pader as opposed to those of Kitgum and Lamwo. They also accuse him of mismanaging the diocese and conflicting with some clergy.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 December 2014 14:07

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Next EALA speaker should unite the house-Mao

Democratic Party President Norbert Mao says the next Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) should be impartial and will have to work towards uniting the house which was divided.

Mao’s comments come after hearing of the impeachment of East African Legislative Assembly Speaker Margaret Nantongo Zziwa.

The Ugandan politician was kicked out of the position by a majority vote of 36 members who voted in favour of the motion, two opposed and one refused to vote.

Speaking to the NewVision, the former Gulu district chairperson said the decision of impeaching Zziwa is a sign of the rule of law in the East African community.

“She (Zziwa) was given enough time to defend herself in the court. She should respect the decision,” he said.

Ms Zziwa through her lawyers had sought an order prohibiting the house from convening on Wednesday to impeach her saying it was illegal.

Mao said EALA is a young institution that should not be brought down by Zziwa’s impeachment.

“It is the first of its kind. What happened to her (Zziwa) is a personal tragedy. We pray that her Ugandan successor will unite and take the institutional ahead,” he added.

Pulkol speaks out.

Former Director-General of Uganda’s External Security Organisation (ESO) and as well as the former Executive Chairman of the African Leadership Institute (AFLI) David Pulkol said the impeachment is a sign of the rule of law.

“Her impeachment shows that good governance is following laws and regulations, but not putting individuals first. The decision to impeach her was done legally without breaking any law,” he added

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 December 2014 14:14

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Deteriorating state of Pakwach-Nebbi road

Motorists along the Pakwach-Nebbi stretch of the Karuma-Olwiyo-Pakwach-Nebbi-Arua highway are complaining about the deteriorating state of the road.

“The road is becoming worse every other passing day. The potholes are becoming bigger and bigger,” complains Owiny Robert, a taxi driver who operates along that route.

Another, Mungu-Acel Walter, says the recent rains have made the road worse, with the worst sections of the road at Acwera, Nyaravur and Alwi.

“We urge the roads authority [Uganda National Roads Authority] to save the road before it completely becomes impassable.”

Road signs along the road have also been massively vandalized.

Dan Alinange, the head of corporate communications at the UNRA acknowledges that the roads agency knows about the declining health of the road.

“This section of the road to Arua is due for rehabilitation. UNRA has awarded the contract for rehabilitation of this road to China Civil Engineering at a cost of sh28bn.

“The contractor is currently mobilising and works are expected to start in January 2015. We shall work with our engineers in Arua [UNRA] station to continue maintaining the road until the contractor takes over in January 2015,” he says.

It was only a decade ago that the 53km Pakwach-Nebbi section of the highway was upgraded to bitumen standard.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 December 2014 14:20

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Uganda to borrow $13.8b for standard gauge railway




UGANDA will have to borrow $13.8b (sh38.5trillion) from the Exim Bank of China to construct the Standard Gauge Railway line.

The total cost was revealed to MPs yesterday by the state minister for works John Byabagambi whom President Yoweri Museveni appointed to chair the implementation of the Standard Gauge Railway project.   

Considering that Uganda's economy is worth sh63.3trillion, the sh38.5trillion coupled with Uganda's current debt of sh20trillion, implies that Uganda's debt sustainability threshold will be exceeded.

Various experts including the secretary to treasury Keith Mukahanizi and the National Planning Authority executive director Joseph Muvawala have warned that if Uganda goes for this exorbitant loan for the railway, it would potentially burst the economy.

Byabagambi also revealed that following instructions he got from President Yoweri Museveni, he has resolved to give China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC) the contract for part of the railway from Kampala to western Uganda.
“After negotiations we had, we agreed to divide the project between China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and CCECC for both of them to have almost the same mileage of the project,” Byabagambi explained.

CCECC had earlier gone to court after Byabagambi terminated their Memorandum of Understanding and entered into negotiations with CHEC.

Asked by the committee chairman Ssekitoleko Kafeero why he had terminated the CCECC contract, Byabagambi explained the MOU they had signed with CCECC was for a feasibility study for upgrading the existing railway, but they had twisted it into study for the standard gauge railway.

Sheema woman MP Rosemary Nakikongoro said, “Since there was a court directive requiring you to negotiate with CCECC because of earlier mistake of terminating their contract. In such circumstances, it is unlikely that the country will get value for money.”

On the cost,  Byabagambi said, “We are aware that this project can cause us to exceed the internationally acceptable debt ratio. That is why we want to it in phases.

On whether the contract for the project has already been signed, Byabagambi said they are yet to sign the contract pending negotiations.

Regarding whether government is contemplating halting the process in light of the information arising from the probe, Byabagambi said, “It is unlikely that we shall stop the process because we are in advanced stages of entering the contract.”

The project partly stalled after the ministry of works contract committee and the Solicitor General declined to approve the contract over ambiguity on the way the costs were quantified.

Whereas the world average of constructing a SGR line is between $1m to $2m dollars per kilometer, the Kampala-Malaba and Tororo to Nimule branch which will be constructed by CHEC will be at $9m per kilometer which MPs said was too high.

On why he intends to give contracts to these two companies which were blacklisted by the World Bank, Byagambi said, and “The World Bank has blacklisted most Chinese companies on flimsy reasons. They don't want Chinese companies to dominate the African market. As far as we are concerned, they are clean companies.”




Last Updated on Thursday, 18 December 2014 14:23

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Mbabazi in-law: NRM meet was manipulated to favour Museveni

PARLIAMENT- A sister-in-law to former prime minister Amama Mbabazi, yesterday accused unnamed ruling party leaders of stage-managing events at the recently concluded National Conference.

Ms Hope Mwesigye told Daily Monitor yesterday that the alleged manipulation was carried out to help the NRM chairman, President Museveni, get his way in the disputed amendments to the party constitution.

In an e-mail, Ms Mwesigye, the former Agriculture minister and current NRM chairperson for Kabale District, also attacked the ‘new’ NRM as a vehicle for what she referred to as dictatorship bent on perpetuating Mr Museveni in power in disregard of constitutional procedures.

‘Sham process’
The former minister rejected the changes which were made to the NRM constitution as an illegality. Her brother-in-law, Mr Mbabazi, who has denied accusations that he is plotting to challenge Mr Museveni in 2016, lost his post as NRM secretary general as a consequence of the amendments.

“The whole process was manipulated and stage-managed all through, non-members; crime preventers trained in Kabalye were the majority in front seats and cheering and voting, it was so sham ... and disgusting,” Ms Mwesigye said.

“That’s why people refused to vote either way. There was an internal coup d’état. What it really all means is that the NRM party belongs to the chairman, as abolishing SG and Treasurer only leaves one office of the chairman,” she added.

But the NRM deputy spokesperson, Mr Ofwono Opondo, last evening said Ms Mwesigye needs “psychiatric help”. He told Daily Monitor that on the basis of the relationship her sister has with the former prime minister, she took a line that the secretary general position is a family affair.

The NRM National Conference on Monday adopted several constitutional amendments and empowered the party chairman to hire and fire the secretary general, deputy secretary general, treasurer and deputy treasurer.

Explaining her understanding of the amendments, Ms Mwesigye said: “NRM is Museveni and Museveni is NRM. [There is] no democracy at all, people’s power to choose their leaders is taken over [and] dictatorship taking shape...”
Information minister Rose Namayanja yesterday also accused Ms Mwesigye of “indiscipline” and peddling lies to mudsling the ruling party.

“If that’s what Ms Mwesigye is saying, then, it’s unfortunate. There was no foul play, the amendments were discussed and majority voted in favour. What we did was to strengthen internal democracy by ensuring that we [have]
transparent primaries and election of party structures..,” Ms Namayanja said.

The Minister for Presidency, Mr Frank Tumwebaze, said the former minister’s “outbursts are driven by emotions and, therefore, illogical”. He advised her to go to court and challenge the process.

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga advised Ms Mwesigye to file a formal complaint with the party for police to investigate the allegation that crime preventers participated in the voting process. He also clarified that “crime preventers are civilians” and that as police, they do not know the criteria the NRM used to select the delegates.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 December 2014 14:29

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