Posts tagged as: major

CS Matiang’i Rebukes Nasa Leaders Over Violent Demos

By Magati Obebo

Acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has accused the National Super Alliance (Nasa) leaders of plotting to cause anarchy.

Dr Matiang’i described Nasa’s weekly protests in major towns across the country as a pretext to cause mayhem.

“They can’t do this and expect the government sit back and watch,” he warned.

“There is absolutely nothing peaceful in attacking a police station. There is nothing holy in looting businesses.

“This is thuggery and we shall act accordingly,” Dr Matiang’i said at Ibacho SDA Church in Nyaribari Chache, Kisii County, on Saturday.

REFORMS

He said tough Nasa has the right to hold protests, attacking and looting businesses is criminal.

“These policemen you are seeing here are our brothers and sisters. What does one gain by provoking them? There is no reason why one would want to attack them in the disguise of causing havoc,” the Education CS said.

Dr Matiang’i added that the opposition is not pushing for electoral reforms but harbouring an ulterior motive.

EXAMS

On national examinations, Dr Matiang’i said the timetable will not be changed.

“We want to assure parents and stakeholders that there will be no change in the examination schedule,” he said.

“They want to make the country to slide into chaos and have someone to come and do mediation, which we don’t know for what.”

Kenya

Donors Ask Odinga to Rescind Decision to Boycott Poll

Western donors want National Super Alliance leader, Raila Odinga, to rescind his withdrawal from the upcoming repeat… Read more »

Ethiopia:Ministry Eyes At Strengthening Onchocerciasis Elimination Efforts

By Mengisetab Teshome

Ministry of Health and development partners disclosed that the program to eliminate Onchocerciasis – disease caused by parasitic worm – is progressing in most affected areas of the country.

Neglected Tropical Disease Program Coordinator at the Ministry Nebiyu Negussu told The Ethiopian Herald that the Ministry is working aggressively to eliminate Onchocerciasis through consorted efforts.

“A survey has been conducted in some areas of Oromia, Amhara, South Nation and Nationalities Stats (SNNPs) Gambella and Benishangul Gumuz. Mapping was also conducted in 349 districts that would enable to identify 198 epidemics and apply mass drug administration.”

According to him, over ten thousand of drug administrators and distributors were trained for a year to cope up with the burden within short time. The mapping process will continue in the eastern part of the country till next month.

He said that Ethiopia envisions to eliminate Onchocerciasis by 2020. As part of this plan the Ministry is applying mass treatment.

According to him, State health bureaus and aid organizations are contributing their share in eradicating the disease. Progresses have been witnessed in areas with good record of implementation– among these are North Gonder-Metema and Qura, he addedd.

According to recent studies south-western, western and north-western parts of the country carry high incidents of Onchocerciasis.

“In the mapped areas, Onchocerciasis is highest in places located near river banks with the prevalence dropping gradually as one move further away from the areas. But, the central high lands and arid lowlands of Ethiopia are free from Onchocerciasis because of their geographic location”.

The Western part of the country is more prone to Onchocerciasis. The presence of many rivers and vegetation will provide a suitable environment for the vector which causes the disease.

Onchocerciasis Elimination Program Focal person Qadu Meribo also said that the major symptoms of the disease include intense itching and thickening of the skin.

Onchocerciasis is transmitted by black flies and affects over 17 million peoples living in the surveyed areas.

Ethiopia

Opposition Leader Gudina Pleads Innocent On All Charges

Appearing in court for the first time after the court’s summer recess, Dr. Merera Gudina has pleaded his innocence… Read more »

It’s Victory and Challenge

By Editorial

The women’s national volleyball team deserves kudos for qualifying for the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship for the sixth time. The girls trained under difficult conditions for the women’s Volleyball Africa Nations Championship held last week in Cameroon, but they gallantly managed to reach the finals of the competition and clinch one of the two tickets reserved for Africa.

Despite this achievement, failure to defend the African crown is a blot on the fabric of their world championship qualification, as it reveals a tidal shift from Kenya, the dominant nine-time champions, to Cameroon. The West Africans, who won their very first continental title last weekend, have been on an upward trend in the past three years, while Kenya appears to have stagnated in performance by both the national team and clubs.

RIO OLYMPICS

Cameroon qualified for the Rio Olympics last year at the expense of Kenya, and their clubs continue to perform very well in African competitions.

Our top teams Kenya Prisons and Kenya Pipeline have not won the competition in the last four years despite lifting it nine times between 1998 and 2013.

Kenya Volleyball Federation officials must find ways to ensure that Malkia Strikers maintain their position as the African queens, and this calls for better strategies and preparations for major future competitions.

Kenya

Police Killed Over 33 During Demo – Report

Kenya police killed at least 33 people in Nairobi during demos sparked off by August 8 presidential poll results,… Read more »

Kenya:State Cuts Cooking Gas Cylinder Price 70% in Sh3 Billion Plan

By Neville Otuki

Poor homes will now acquire 6kg gas cylinders with cooking accessories at a discounted price of Sh2,000, down from about Sh5,000, under a government subsidy plan aimed at cutting reliance on kerosene and charcoal.

The cylinders, dubbed Gas Yetu, will be distributed to the poor across the country by State-owned National Oil.

Under the plan, which has been piloted in Machakos and Kajiado counties, the Ministry of Energy will buy about one million new cylinders for distribution.

“This campaign is meant to increase the uptake of cooking gas by low-income households,” National Oil CEO MaryJane Mwangi said.

The company sells a complete 6kg cylinder of its flagship SupaGas brand at about Sh5,000. The equivalent cylinder of the new Gas Yetu brand at Sh2,000 is set to be a game changer in weaning poor homes from the use of firewood, charcoal and kerosene for cooking.

The Treasury initially allocated the Energy ministry Sh2.2 billion for the programme and later added it Sh700 million in a mini-budget, pushing the total to Sh3.1 billion.

The Treasury in July last year scrapped value added tax (VAT) on cooking gas to cut costs and boost uptake, but poor homes have continued to find the prices prohibitive.

Gas has become the preferred energy source for households that can afford it in major towns, due to its convenience and because it is cleaner than other cooking fuel. The VAT removal on gas was part of the government’s plan to wean rural homes off reliance on toxic firewood, kerosene and charcoal.

Unlike petrol, diesel and kerosene, cooking gas prices are not regulated by the Energy Regulatory Commission and have been left to market forces.

Oil marketers have been pushing for more rigorous checks on unlicensed gas operators, whom they accuse of undercutting the market through irregular refilling.

Kenya

Police Killed Over 33 During Demo – Report

Kenya police killed at least 33 people in Nairobi during demos sparked off by August 8 presidential poll results,… Read more »

Nigeria:After Badoo Nightmare, Ikorodu Residents Face Trauma of Bad Road

By Oluwatosin Areo

Commuters plying the Ikorodu-Shagamu road are losing sleep over the worsening state of the road, which is not only affecting their health, but also their livelihoods.

To many Nigerians, it has become distant memory that the 25km Shagamu-Ogijo-Mosinmi-Ikorodu Road was the first major highway that linked Lagos State, the commercial nerve of the nation, to other states and West Africa countries.

The road was constructed in 1962 by the Western Region government, before the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was built but today, the same road, which is an alternative route to Lagos, besides the busy Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, remains a shadow of itself. The road is now littered with potholes and gullies, making residents and road users endure pain navigating through it, especially after any drop of rainfall.

The Shagamu-Ogijo-Mosinmi-Ikorodu road could be best described as a death trap, where many have died, property worth billions of naira destroyed and several man hours wasted in traumatic traffic, all due to its deplorable state. A larger part of the road is generally overtaken with flood due to its poor drainage system.

Those who spoke with The Guardian described it as death trap saying: “The distance between Ita-oluwo to Ikorodu should not be more than 15 minutes but for the bad roads, one has to travel about one hour. On many occasions, we resort to taking motorcycle, thereby risking our lives in the midst of traffic jams mainly caused by the failed portions of the road.”

Nonso Chibuzo, is one of those motorists that has a share of the bitter tale experience on the road. He said: “I ply the Ikorodu-Ogijo road daily for daily upkeep but I usually spend the money I realise on repairing my Okada daily. We carry people for N250 during rush hour and N500 when it rains heavily. But when the rain falls, the road becomes almost impassable. I have fallen into the gutter before when I sustained some injury on the leg with the passenger I carried that day. If the road is fixed, it will ease our business for us.

He added that commuters usually complain bitterly about hike in fare but there is little we can do about that. The touts also have a fair share of the money we realise too. Pain relieve drugs is the only thing that help me sleep at night because of how bad the road is.

The road plays host to some federal and state institutions, which include the 174 Battalion Army Barracks, Lagos State Polytechnic, Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC), Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO), Lagos State Farm Estate, Lagos Waste to Wealth Fertilizer Company, Larfarge Cement Company, and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) among others.

Private companies like PZ Cussons, Monarch Steel, Super Engineering, Spintex Mill, Phoenix, amongst others are also located on the route, which explains the density of human and vehicular movement on the road.

Describing another portion of the road, which a commuter referred to as ‘the most dreadful part’, is the steep between Sawmill and Lagos State Polytechnic, a commercial bus driver, Adewole Ishola, said: “This portion of the road is known to be a death trap especially for heavy duty vehicles, which sometimes somersault to the roadside or abruptly stop while going up the hill. These vehicles sometimes reverse and collide with oncoming vehicles. We see accidents on this part of the road weekly; something must be done quickly to avert further loss of lives and goods”.

Nigeria:Southern Leaders Tackle Buhari Over Directive to World Bank

By Dapo Akinrefon

THE Southern Leaders Forum has lampooned President Muhammadu Buhari over directive to the World Bank to concentrate on the Northern region, saying such directive was discriminatory.

The forum said the directive, which was revealed by President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, is sectional and divisive.

In a statement by Messrs Guy Ikokwu (South-East), Bassey Henshaw (South-South) and Yinka Odumakin (South-West), the forum faulted the Presidency’s response to the matter, noting: “The Presidency should be more nuanced, speak the language of persuasion and not behave as if it is at war with Nigerians.”

The forum, however, said the disclosure by the World Bank chief had raised the need to restructure Nigeria.

It said:”This gaffe has again raised the urgent need for the restructuring of Nigeria so that the constituent units of Nigeria do not have to struggle to control or pray for the mind of whoever is at the centre before they can witness development.

“This directive without mincing words is sectional, discriminatory, divisive and against the laudable promise of Mr President at his inauguration that he would not be beholden to anyone as he was elected to be the President of everybody.

“It riles the more when we have a situation of provocative deployment of “Operation Python Dance” and “Crocodile Smile” to a section of the country while the World Bank is being despatched to another.

“Giving instructions to the World Bank to concentrate on a section of the country where the President hails from throws a knife at the heart of our nationhood and challenges the hackneyed expression that the ‘unity of Nigeria is settled’.

“There can never be any rational explanation for why such a request should be made by a President with a pan-Nigerian mandate. The only explanation that would have convinced was if we were told that such a discussion did not take place at all.”

“We have also studied the very rude, bellicose, insensitive and knee-jerk response from the Presidency on the matter. The unfortunate tirade from the office of the President showed a very deep contempt and palpable impunity as 90% of its content was devoted to abusing those who have shown rightful indignation at such a development. It is not on record that even the British colonial masters addressed Nigerians in such scornful and brash language.

“The only tepid explanation in the spiteful statement was that the President’s request was for the reconstruction of the North East. But Kim was emphatic about “northern region” and not North East.”

Nigeria

Commissioner Points Hypertension, Diabetes As Major Causes of Blindness

Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr Nicholas Azinge, has said hypertension and diabetes are major causes of… Read more »

Ethiopia:Ethiopian Companies to Benefit From EIB Backing for U.S.$100m Private Equity Fund

press release

Luxembourg — The European Investment Bank (EIB) will support private equity investment across Ethiopia though support for the new USD 100m Cepheus Growth Capital Fund. The EIB’s USD 10 million participation represents the first backing for an Ethiopia focused fund and one of the first engagements with a single country private equity fund in Africa by Europe’s long-term lending institution.

“The European Investment Bank is committed to fostering private sector investment across Africa. Our first support for private equity in Ethiopia, through the Cepheus Capital Growth Fund, will help leading local companies to expand and succeed. The fund manager’s significant financial experience and understanding of Ethiopia will ensure companies can unlock their true potential. With this new initiative the EIB will help Ethiopia, the second largest country in Africa, to meet key sustainable development goals and continue its recent impressive economic growth.” said Ambroise Fayolle, Vice President of the European Investment Bank.

EIB Vice President Fayolle this week visited Ethiopia on a two day visit. During his stay in Addis Ababa he met business leaders, entrepreneurs and diplomats, as well as Ethiopian government officials and representatives of the Economic Commission for Africa.

“Private equity investment will strengthen the growth of leading companies in Ethiopia and create new jobs across the country. This new cooperation with Cepheus demonstrates the European Investment Bank’s commitment to Ethiopia and support for economic growth across the country in the years ahead.” said Ambassador-Designate Johan Borgstam, Head of the European Union Delegation to Ethiopia.

The Cepheus Growth Capital Fund, founded by two Ethiopian born partners, will invest in private sector companies all over Ethiopia involved in manufacturing, consumer goods, agriculture and agro-processing. The fund is expected to invest between USD 3 million and USD 10 million in each company. The EIB participation in the Cepheus Growth Capital Fund was approved by the EIB’s shareholders in September and is expected to be finalised in the coming weeks in conjunction with support from other international investors.

The expected first ever support for private equity investment in Ethiopia was announced in June this year during a visit to Addis by Pim van Ballekom, EIB Vice President responsible for operations in East Africa.

Cepheus Growth Capital is led by Managing Partner Berhane Demissie. The Addis Ababa based operations team with significant African experience in private equity, banking and fund management will manage direct investments. Its investment strategy is focused on job creation and supporting social improvement.

During his visit to Addis Vice President Fayolle also addressed the African Microfinance Week conference alongside Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. The African Microfinance Week is a bi-annual major conference dedicated to development of financial inclusion in Africa and is supported by the EIB. More than 300 organisations were represented at this year’s conference that focuses on enhancing microfinance support for youth employment.

In recent years the EIB has supported investment to improve water infrastructure across Ethiopia and provided credit lines to back private sector investment. The EIB is currently finalising support for mobile banking in Ethiopia, it is also examining possible future backing of off-grid solar investment and financing for renewable energy projects and industrial parks.

Over the last five years the European Investment Bank has provided more than EUR 10.1 billion for investment across Africa.

Copyright European Union, 1995-2017

SOURCE European Investment Bank

Ethiopia

Ethiopian Airlines to Partner Tour Firms

Ethiopian Airlines is looking for tour and travel companies to partner in order to boost regional tourism and trade… Read more »

Hilton Shopping for a Second Hotel in Rwanda – Official

interviewBy Collins Mwai

Global hotel franchise, Hilton Hotel, last week announced its debut into the Rwandan market by adding Ubumwe Grand Hotel to its franchise. Hilton Group will operate the facility under Doubletree brand joining other global brands in the market including Radisson Blu, Park Inn, The Marriott, Serena Hotel and Golden Tulip. However, the management of the hotel chain say that they are not done investing in the country and they are shopping for a second facility outside the city. The New Times’ Collins Mwai caught up with Patrick Fitzgibbon, the Senior Vice President, Development, Europe, Middle East and Africa for insights into their strategy, the controversy surrounding the recent deal and their plans for Rwanda.

Below are excerpts:

What made you consider adding Ubumwe Grand to your franchise as you enter the Rwandan market?

It was a new hotel in the market, it did not have any affiliation to any form of international chain. We toured the hotel, it is wonderfully built and we wanted to find the opportunity to put it our system. We spoke to them under the DoubleTree brand, spent some time showing them how it works and they liked it. We agreed to convert it to a DoubleTree by Hilton. They will continue to run it themselves, it is a franchise agreement. There is little work to be done in terms of the hotel itself before opening up in March or April next year.

What are some of the features and characteristics of DoubleTree by Hilton brand?

DoubleTree are upscale, full scale hotels. It is a bit flexible in that it does not need to have all the facilities that you would have in a Hilton. The way they have developed this hotel we think we will attract a market of travelers looking for services we offer today. It has great rooms, nice public areas, bars, among others.

What are your projections on profitability of your latest addition in Kigali?

Our objective is to be the first choice for the world’s travelers. We would like our guests all around the world to know that we have products in all the major markets. If you look at Kigali as a city, we absolutely should have something in Rwanda. We have had a long term presence in East Africa; in Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam and we have been looking for property in Kampala and Kigali. We know we have demand, that is why we have been working to find a partner who can deliver.

You said that there is some additional work to be done before you can rebrand DoubleTree by Hilton. What does it entail?

There is not an enormous task to do. Most of the work will be technology, which clients do not get to see but get to experience. Things like the ability to have guests check in and choose their rooms before they get to the hotel.

From next year, they will be able to use their phones to access their rooms.

How much is this likely to cost?

I am not sure how much it is likely to cost, a majority of investment went into developing the hotel. This is significantly less but enables us to plug the hotel into a global distribution system.

Last year, you mentioned that you would be looking at having more than one facility in the country. Are you shopping for a second facility in Rwanda? What do you have in mind?

We are shopping for another facility in Rwanda. We would like something that is resort based, environment conservation related. Something close to the gorillas because that is something that people would like to see. We would like to work with an existing facility, and covert it to one of our brands.

Among the common comments by players in this market is the shortage of qualified staff to work in their establishments. How do you plan to navigate this?

That is something that we have done for decades. If you look at some of our traditional hotels, you find that staff are trained and stay for a very long time.

If you go to places like the Nairobi Hilton, you find that some of the staff working there, their parents worked there as well. It is about how you look after the staff and how you develop their skills over time. Training in hospitality is something that we have spent time doing both at the hotel and in working with local hotels institutions. The good thing is that people here have a culture that makes them easy to train because of their attitudes.

I think you would be surprised on the number of qualified staff you have in this market. It is largely about attitudes and aptitudes which are present here.

As you debut on the Rwandan market, what are some of the opportunities for local businesses looking to work with you on various aspects of the value chain?

When you talk about the number of jobs or opportunities created in travel and tourism, it is beyond the hotel or the facility. It is in transport, supplies, among other components. In the country, there has been great work by the government to develop the travel and tourism sector along with support capacities. It brings in lots of jobs and business opportunities into the market. In the long term, it will bring investments in the market and drive sustainability in the market. Rwanda has played a good role to develop the sector to ensuring that it has a role in the economy.

The market has quite a number of international brands, Marriot, Golden Tulip, Radisson Blu, Park Inn and Serena, among others. How do you plan to get an edge over them?

What I would describe our edge as is to be the first choice for the world’s travelers, you can only be that if you have products in all the markets people want to travel to.

When I look at our performance in hotels around the world in terms of numbers, profitability feedback, they all rank quite high. We have been to many new markets and have performed fairly well.

What is your take on the supporting infrastructure that you require to run your enterprise?

I think you only need to look at the developments in Rwanda in the recent years, if you are an investor. Rwanda is not only a safe environment it has adequate infrastructure, from the airport to other support infrastructure.

For investors looking to work with brands such as Hilton in coming days, what can they do to make sure that they are in position to partner or franchise with you in the future? How can they ensure that their hotels can franchise with the group?

The growth initiative we are talking about is taking over existing hotels after they have been built. The most important thing I would say to people seeking to enter the hotel business is talk to people who understand the hotel business.

Why would you build something that will not be relevant? The first thing we do is talk to investors before they put a spade into the ground. If you are going to build a hotel, talk to us first and understand what we would be looking for.

How long is the contract?

The contract in Ubumwe is 20 years.

When looking at franchises or hotel management, we have seen one such agreement cut short largely due to misunderstandings between the investor and the international brand. Going forward, what is the best way to ensure that such partnerships are successful?

The most important thing when we come in to franchise in a hotel is making sure that we take the time to ensure each party understands what the other is doing. The investors need to understand what the franchise is doing. It is a bit like a marriage, if you take time to understand each other, you are better placed to succeed.

Any projections on when you are likely to break even?

Because it is a franchise, it will depend on how the owners run it. We are not privy to those numbers.

What has been the role of government as you enter the market?

The government has put up necessary infrastructure from the airport, to road network and other things that the city and the country have. These are things that, as investors, we are usually looking out for.

What do you make of the competition from the other brands?

Everywhere we work in the world we have competition, it is good for business, and its good for customers as it gives them choice and keeps everybody on their toes.

Rwanda has a target of generating about $800m from the tourism sector by 2024. As a stakeholder in the sector, what needs to be done right to ensure it is achieved?

I think that everything that the government is doing should continue being done. Keep making it easy to travel to Rwanda and giving visitors great experiences and keep them coming back. When travelers come to Rwanda, it is important that they say they would like to come back. That can be achieved by giving them great experiences.

Has Museveni Become Uganda’s Problem?

analysisBy Haggai Matsiko

Kampala — Once celebrated at home and abroad as one of a new breed of African leaders, President Yoweri Museveni now finds himself the subject of intense criticism.

Observers say he faces challenges created by lack of new ideas to revive a stunted economy that might prove fatal to his political survival and that his lack of a plan to smoothly step aside when the time comes jeopardises everyone’s future.

A major boost to the economy is expected from an injection of about US$ 10 billion by international oil investors into the development phase of the oil industry. But recent political tensions have led to fears that the expected Final Investment Decision (FID), which is supposed to signal the release of these funds, could be delayed further.

Amidst all this, many observers say the political repression and the push back against opposition that Museveni is adapting are threatening the national security and economic transformation that has been his badge.

Without a clear ideology and transformative agenda, critics say, it is only his strong personality that is holding the ruling NRM party and the state machinery together.

“But he may not be president in 10-15 years,” says one Museveni critic, “If he is, he will be a lame duck with no successor and no transformation to sell.

“That makes Uganda’s future very uncertain and a risky investment,” the official added.

As this criticism mounts, Museveni; a favourite of many who has successfully held on power for over 32 years now amidst stiff opposition, is tightening the grip even more.

He has been accused of political repression in the past, but the scale and extent appears deeper and broader this time.

For some Ugandans, the events of Sept.27 – when Museveni unleashed security operatives to eject opposition legislators from parliament that had been attempting to block the ruling party from amending the constitution to scrap the age-limit are harbingers of tough political and economic times ahead.

On that day, many were disturbed that Speaker Rebecca Kadaga allowed the Special Forces, an arm of the Ugandan military that guards the president and was until recently commanded by his son Maj. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to kick the opposition out of parliament.

The raid is seen as specifically too bad for Museveni as it is being likened to the 1966 crisis when then-Prime Minister Milton Obote deployed security forces around parliament and MPs passed the “Pigeon-Hole Constitution”.

That day’s events and the other tensions surrounding the plans to purge the constitution of the age limit also forced security to deploy heavily in the capital Kampala, raid non-governmental organisations, arrest scores of opposition politicians all the while attracting criticism from development partners and bad press locally and internationally.

When the MPs were either kicked out or abandoned parliament in protest recently, many of them announced various forms of protest including the so-called ‘Red Ribbon’ and a new wave of Walk-to-Work protests.

“People are not happy with the current state of affairs,” says Leader of Opposition Winnie Kizza. She says the NRM, removed the behind brakes when they removed term limits and now want to remove the front brakes by scrapping the age-limit.

“We are headed for disaster,” she says.

The government has responded with more clamped downs that Museveni is vowing to intensify.

At the recent celebrations to mark 55 years of Independent held at Bushenyi Municipal Grounds in Bushenyi district on Oct.09, Museveni warned that intolerance would be resisted in the strongest terms possible and that nobody would be allowed to undermine the security and democracy, which was bought with blood of patriots.

Security forces have since Sept. 30 besieged the home of the defacto leader of the opposition; Kizza Besigye after he urged Ugandans to join him in countrywide mass protests to show solidarity with those opposed to the lifting of the presidential age limit. The homes of opposition key figures are also routinely cordoned off and the politicians are either kept under virtual house arrest or picked up and detained when they venture out.

Depending on which side one is on in the growing gap between pro and anti-Museveni camps, these moves are seen as either a clampdown or the government’s bid to return sanity.

The push to scrap the age limit from the constitution and allow Museveni to stay in power has sparked debate and animosity.

Up to 75 percent of Ugandans are opposed to the lifting of the age limit according to a survey by Afrobarometer, a respected pollster.

President Yoweri Museveni has not pronounced himself on the bill. But his handlers at State House initiated the campaign, State House is funding it, cabinet sanctioned it and the ruling party has been at the centre of pushing it.

Its timing also appears to expose the motive behind the bill. Now 31 years in power, President Museveni, 73, will be 77 at the next polls. Given that Article 102 (b) which is targeted for scrapping caps the upper age limit for a presidential candidate at 75 and bars him from contesting, Museveni appears to be the intended beneficiary, critics say.

Meanwhile, political violence has risen from the level of threats to action. At least four MPs opposed to lifting the age-limit have had grenades exploding in the compounds of their homes around the same time in what appear to be acts of intimidation.

But politicians supporting the Bill are almost equally threatened with some being attacked by angry mobs at public gatherings.

Effect on economy

Unfortunately, Museveni’s decisions and the opposition’s calls for nationwide civil disobedience appear to be hurting him and his fundamental change legacy even more. He has apparently transformed himself into “the biggest threat to Uganda’s development prospects”.

Critics say Museveni’s quest to stay in power and the chaos it is attracting, are having a chilling effect on, among others, investor confidence, critical for Uganda’s struggling economy.

On the fiscal side, Museveni has been attempting to revive that economy through increased and better managed public investment. Bank of Uganda has also attempted to strengthen the sluggish economic growth momentum reported in the third and fourth quarters of FY2016/17.

Some of the interventions appear to be working. In Q1 of FY2017/18, for example, economic growth rose to 1.8% from 1.1% in the previous quarter.

Unfortunately, as Bank of Uganda Governor Tumusiime Mutebile noted in an Oct.03 monetary policy statement, most of this growth appears to be driven by public sector activity because private sector credit growth remains sluggish. This prompted the Central Bank to cautiously ease the monthly indicative lending rate, the central bank rate (CBR) from 10% to 9.5%. The economy is still being projected to grow at an annual rate of 5.0 to 5.5 percent in FY2017/18, which is a bit lower than the projected medium term GDP growth of 6 and 6.5%.

“No serious investor can bring here their money under these circumstances,” says economist Fred Muhumuza, who previously advised the country’s Finance Minister, “that is why FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) has continued to fall.”

Muhumuza is dismissive of the huge investment in physical infrastructure and says poor policies, implementation and supervision largely explain Uganda’s current economic situation.

“Development is cosmetic,” he said, “power lines and roads are extended where they cannot be used. The timing and management of development projects is all political and there is no supervision.”

All this is worsened by the fact that institutions are not functional. “Infrastructure is not the most important factor to investors,” he said, “Serious investors will look at the institutions like courts and ask; if I get a legal complication, how fast will it be resolved?”

World Bank figures indicate that FDI fell from US$ 1.2 billion in 2012 to US$. 1.0 billion. By June 2016, it had hit $ 870 million, a seven year low. Insiders say 2017 could be worse.

As Muhammad Sempijja, the former Country Manager at Enerst & Young explained, the response of investors is like the normal response of human beings.

“Investors like stability, security and certainty,” Sempijja explained, “if anything affects any of these variables, investors are going to be concerned.”

He said that unfortunately, sentiments emerge quickly but tend to linger.

“When there is a sense of uncertainty,” he said, “investors are going to take a wait and see approach. And the longer the uncertainty takes, the bigger the impact. Because there are usually options, others can take their money elsewhere.”

Sempijja noted that the capital flight from Uganda is not as great as it should possibly be because neighbouring economies, such as Kenya, that Uganda tends to compete with for investors are not doing any better. Added to that is the general gloomy global investment environment which has led the IMF to predict that global output is to remain unchanged at 3.6% in 2017 from 3.5% in 2016.

As Museveni grows older investor confidence is diming because, a Kampala-based political risk analyst told The Independent on conditions of anonymity, even investors who have always seen his government as one that faces risk of turmoil every five years are not sure how long he will retain the muscle to cling on despite his 31-year stable and resilient grip.

“There is no doubt the current situation is a blow to Uganda’s profile as an investment destination,” the risk analyst noted, “Investors are looking on with worry and concern.”

He added that the biggest concern is that by the end of this term, President Museveni will have been 35 years in power, has no successor and no visible succession plan.

“That creates a situation of uncertainty that is discouraging to long term investors,” the analyst noted.

Other experts also note that no country can transform on the basis of FDI alone and that local investors and manufacturers must be the drivers of the transformation with FDI playing a complementary role.

But, critics point out for instance, that poverty levels have recently increased from 20 per cent in 2013-14 to 27 per cent in 2016-17, according to the latest report by Uganda Bureau of Statistics. And the increasing poverty is fuelling frustration against Museveni.

Failure by government to pay arrears after the 2016 elections has also been raised as another issue, which has led to the collapse of several businesses. This means fewer jobs.

Political paralysis

Dramatic developments in the local economy, such as the troubles and eventual collapse of Crane Bank, which was Uganda’s fourth largest bank before the central bank closed it, add to the dark financial mood. And, according to some critics, it is sometimes driven by Museveni’s politics of survival.

In the Crane Bank case, for example, the critics says although it had many problems internally, Museveni could still have stepped in to save such a huge venture but opted out because of his survival politics. Museveni, some say, was aware that many Ugandans erroneously believed that Sudhir was a mere front for the First Family’s alleged ownership of Crane Bank and he did not want to appear to confirm a falsehood and risk political capital. Others say, the demise of Crane Bank also meant clipping the growing wings of Sudhir Ruparelia who owing to his wealth–was the richest man in Uganda–was seen as a political threat. Opposition leaders, including Kizza Besigye frequented the bank in the 2016 election period and tabloids carried unverified stories of Sudhir funding their campaign.

If, as another critic who commented on conditions of anonymity noted, that Museveni’s government appears paralysed by machinations of survival politics, the Crane Bank saga is a perfect example.

Museveni has a firm grip on power but is managerially incapable of using that power to improve the economy and lift Uganda’s vast pospulation out of poverty, he added.

In the past, the official added, there has been substantial economic growth of over 5 percent but this has been wiped out by a high population growth rate. As a result, there has not been transformation, that is, industrialisation, or a well-trained workforce, jobs, and agriculture commercialisation. Instead, the education, health, and other social services are very poor.

“You have no genuine transformation agenda or meaningful democratisation,” the critic noted, “The peace and stability you talk about is irrelevant to the youth who never saw war. What they see is a failed manager of the economy who relies on police repression and commercial use of politics to stay in power.”

However, amidst of all this, Museveni’s handlers say he must stay on because he is a uniting factor and the only sure bet for Uganda’s development ambitions.

****

Museveni’s Long March to Power

Photo: The Independent

President Yoweri Museveni

analysisBy Baker Batte Lule

As the debate on Raphael Magyezi’s bill to amend Article 102(b) rages, BAKER BATTE LULE looks back at the journey President Museveni has walked to where he is now.

Some pundits refer to his 31 years in power as a life presidency project. That from the outset, Museveni was never going to let go of the presidency.

The carrot and stick have been applied at different points to overcome obstacles to this alleged project.

We start with the first four years after the NRM/A shot its way into office in 1986 when the new government issued Legal Notice No. 1. The notice decreed that the interim government would be in place for only four years, following which a general election would be called in 1989.

However, in the same year, President Museveni, who was the chairman of the NRA [now UPDF] and National Resistance Council [now parliament], shifted.

He told his then minister of Justice and attorney general, George Wilson Kanyeihamba, to draft justifications for the extension of the NRC and its executive arm for another five years until a new constitution under which general elections would be held had been written.

Kanyeihamba, now a retired Supreme court judge, told The Observer recently that there were justifiable reasons for the extension of Museveni’s tenure then. But these reasons no longer exist today, Kanyeihamba says.

“When the Movement came, they had given themselves four years but that was idealistic. Museveni entrusted me to articulate the views why the NRM should extend for another five years. I did; you don’t have to believe my word, go to the NRM secretariat [and check what I said],” Kanyeihamba said.

Today, the retired judge finds himself vehemently opposed to his former boss’ determination to lift age limits from the constitution and remove the last thing standing in the way of a potential presidency for life. Kanyeihamba says the issues which necessitated extending Museveni’s tenure 28 years ago have long disappeared.

“For the president who has served the country for over 30 years making decisions day and night; he is physically and mentally exhausted…,” he said.

In the then expanded National Resistance Council of 270 members, only one member, Joseph Wasswa Ziritwawula opposed the 1989 extension. He famously walked out, resigning his seat as NRC member representing a Kampala constituency.

Ziritwawula has long retreated from active politics. However, in an interview with a local daily, the former Kampala mayoral candidate said he would still resign if the same situation played out now.

“Proclamation No. 1 of 1986, put it that the government would be in power for four years after which they would hold elections. Which they didn’t do,” Ziritwawula said.

“I was saying that parliament (NRC) could not extend its term. It is like parliament sitting today and deciding to extend its term. That is not its mandate; it’s the mandate of the people. Giving a period for government is a mandate of the whole population; not a mandate of parliament,” he said.

LIFTING OF TERM LIMITS

The NRC later approved the Uganda Constitutional Commission headed by former Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki to collect people’s views about the new constitution which was debated and promulgated by the Constituent Assembly in 1995. In there, it had article 105 (b) limiting a person eligible for election as president to two five-year terms.

In the subsequent elections of 1996, a still popular President Museveni defeated his closest rival, the opposition coalition candidate, Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere by 75 percent.

Five years on in 2001, he returned to the people with an election manifesto built around the need to professionalise the armed forces ahead of the transition to full civilian rule.

More on This

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Uganda’s Age Limit Bill Goes Through First Reading

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Age Limit Debate Shuts Down Parliament – Again

Chaos in Parliament As Minister, 25 MPs SuspendedAge Limit Debate Shuts Down Parliament – Again

Museveni said he was standing for his last term. But his former bush war comrade, retired colonel Dr Kizza Besigye, said the Museveni he knew would not keep his word.Besigye had just quit the Movement which he said had been turned into an undemocratic and intolerant thing that no longer stood for the ideals which informed the bush war struggle for good governance.Indeed, one year into what would have been his final term, voices calling for the scrapping of term limits started gaining currency. In March 2003, the Movement National Executive Committee sitting at Kyankwanzi National Leadership Institute formally adopted the proposal to ditch term limits.This development so angered some of his lifetime allies, including childhood friend Eriya Kategaya who had been sold on ‘running for my last term’ pitch.Ministers Amanya Mushega, Richard Kaijuka, Matthew Rwikikaire, Miria Matembe, Bidandi Ssali and Sarah Kiyingi joined up with such regime luminaries as Major John Kazoora, former army commander Major General Mugisha Muntu and abandoned ship.Some helped form what eventually evolved into the Forum for Democratic Change political party. Others simply just quit active politics.The most visible proponents for that proposal were former vice president, Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya; former prime minister Amama Mbabazi, his sister-in-law Hope Mwesigye; Kabula MP James Kakooza and Hanifah Kawooya, the Ssembabule Woman MP.But as fate would have it, some of the very proponents of term limits removal woke up to a sobering reality. Bukenya, although known for flip-flopping, recently told this newspaper how he regretted his role in removing term limits in 2005.”I think if we are talking about constitutional amendments, it should be on how to restore term limits, not to lift age limits,” he said. “As the 7th parliament, we made a mistake by lifting term limits; the 10th parliament should avoid committing the same mistake.”While campaigning for president last year, Mbabazi also admitted an error in judgement in 2005 when they lifted term limits.”Although I fought for the removal of term limits, I’m now a changed man and a better person. In my first term in office, we shall restore the two term limits,” Mbabazi was quoted saying in Teso sub-region.Speaking to The Observer on Wednesday, Kakooza said looking back, he is still proud of the role he played. Like Raphael Magyezi whose private member’s bill is today at the vanguard of this unpopular push against article 102(b), Kakooza became the mouthpiece of the term limits agenda.”Democracy is growing in this country and now people understand why and whom to vote for. How can I regret that choice I made? Actually, I’m very happy now because people by then were thinking that the constitution cannot be amended. It was a taboo talking about constitutional amendment,” Kakooza said.”The constitution grows; so, it must be aligned to the prevailing environment. But when I started saying that we can amend it in 2003, people were saying ‘no way’,” Kakooza said.Daniel Omara Atubo, former minister of Lands and MP for Otuke, said he warned the country in 2005 that lifting term limits was the beginning of a life presidency project.”Term limits were removed amidst very strong opposition from the people of Uganda. Underhand methods were used mainly through bribery and change of rules of parliament from secret ballot to open voting. It’s that method of work that has undermined democracy in this country,” Atubo said.Movement MPs received Shs 5 million to facilitate their vote to scrap article 105(2) on term limits. Even more money could yet change hands this time. Atubo has had an on-and-off relationship with Museveni: joining his government (state minister for defence) in the early years from the Uganda Peoples Congress as part of an experiment in ‘broadbased’ politics.Getting arrested, jailed and humiliated at the height of the northern insurgency, before reverting to the UPC and then enduring a stint as land minister post-2011.He points out that the country is going through the darkest period in its political life today.”As a person who was a member of the Constituent Assembly, there were very strong reasons why we put term and age limits in our constitution. The proposals came from the people through the Odoki commission and they sailed through without a lot of effort. Even Museveni and his quislings supported those proposals,” Atubo said on phone from Lira where he is spending his leave from active politics – for now.Like others, he is flabbergasted by what they see as the president’s appetite for power.”Museveni risks being forgotten. The way he is pushing for life presidency even the good work he has done will be erased because the only alternative to remove Museveni will be through violence…which we tried to avoid in our constitution.”Now any mad person like Kony can step in to try and take power by force because that is the only method left to get change,” Atubo said.However, Atubo expressed encouragement at Ugandans’ fierce opposition to the Magyezi bill.”When you look at what is going on in the country, you see that everybody is opposed… you have only a mere 200 crazy members of parliament who … are behind the removal of age limits. I call upon President Museveni and the opportunists around him to see the light however late and reject this proposal.”Hope Mwesigye (one-time minister) who was one of the avid supporters of term limits lifting is very sorry for what she did in 2005.”I trusted Museveni; that he was going to serve one more term and get off but it seems I was duped. He had other plans for life presidency. I regret the role I played and I really want to apologise to the country that it should never have happened,” Mwesigye said.”You know sometimes it’s a poor judgement of character. It hurts when you trust someone and he keeps changing and shifting goal posts… Museveni should not keep on stretching Ugandans’ magnanimity; we loved him, we supported him; so, he should not abuse our magnanimity.”To atone for the damage her actions resulted in, Mwesigye said she has joined like minds in opposing the lifting of limits on age.”At 75 years, surely somebody is already suffering from dementia and clearly he can- not lead the country. I’m going to do whatever it takes to see that this proposal doesn’t go through.”After a heated stand-off, the 7th parliament presided over by then Speaker Edward Ssekandi lifted term limits with 232 MPs for; 50 against and two abstentions by Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki, the former woman MP for Hoima district, and Col Fred Bogere, the former UPDF representative.On the other hand, Betty Amongi, [minister of Lands] Justine Kasule Lumumba[ NRM secretary general] Christopher Kibanzanga [minister of state for Agriculture] in 2005 voted against lifting term limits. They were in opposition then but have changed sides, having succumbed to Museveni’s carrot and stick tactics.

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