People & Power

MPs debate OPM scam as anti-porn law backfires

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Women activists demonstrate against mobs that undress women

Women activists demonstrate against mobs that undress women wearing miniskirts in Kampala on Wednesday. PHOTO BY RACHEL MABALA 

By Yasiin Mugerwa

Posted  Sunday, March 2  2014 at  02:00

In Summary

Religious leaders and the MPs said the law is necessary because western groups had tried to “recruit” children and other Ugandans into homosexuality.

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The signing of the anti-gays Act has led to the suspension of aid by the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark, while mobs across the country have started undressing women they claim are indecently dressed. They say they are helping police enforce the anti-porn law.

It has been an action-packed week. President Museveni on Monday defied his foreign allies and signed a law that prohibits homosexuality.
Religious leaders and the MPs said the law is necessary because western groups had tried to “recruit” children and other Ugandans into homosexuality.

Foreign donors such as Norway, Denmark and Netherlands responded by suspending aid to Uganda, but Mr Museveni, with the backing of many Ugandans, remains firm.

He said Uganda can survive without foreign aid. The president said he signed the anti-gays Bill because scientific research proved that homosexuality is by nurture and not nature.

Reiterating US President Barack Obama’s statement, the US Secretary of State, Mr John Kerry, said the enactment of the new law marked “a tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights” and warned that Washington could cut aid to Uganda.

Anti-porn law backfires
In the fading shadows of the glee that followed the signing of the anti-gays law, newspapers reported that mobs had started undressing women they claimed to be indecently dressed. This followed the enactment of the anti-pornography law.

As of last week, three incidents had been reported in Kampala and ten in other parts of the country.

Mobs claiming to be helping the police in Iganga District to enforce the anti-pornography law have in the last one week undressed at least 10 people for alleged indecent exposure.

Amid the growing wave of misconduct, premier Amama Mbabazi told Parliament on Tuesday that Cabinet is in the process of reviewing this law. He asked the police to stop mob action.

Ethics minister Simon Lokodo, the architect of the law, said pornography is a social problem that has eaten society to the “marrow”.
Fr Lokodo said pornography is to blame for rise in teenage pregnancies and HIV/Aids infections, among others.

The anti-pornography law is not about miniskirts and skintight pants. It is not even about undressing the “badly dressed” ladies. It is about “morality” and “decency”.

The legislation seeks to protect children from pornography.
The Ethics ministry should expedite the formation of the Anti-Pornography Committee and carry out mass sensitisation on the law.
The ministry should also establish regulations to guide the implementation of the law and the police must arrest those who take the law into their own hands. Those undressing women must stop.

DEBATE ON THE OPM SCAM
Sixty MPs contributed to the debate on the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament report on the fraud in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) before Mr Mbabazi, who some MPs say should be held liable, made his defence.

The MPs were “infatuated” with the former OPM permanent secretary, Mr Pius Bigirimana, and failed to fix the loopholes used by thieving government officials.

The name of the former OPM principal accountant, Geoffrey Kazinda, came up repeatedly.
In condemning Kazinda, the MPs presented key documents indicating that on January 10, 2011, Mr Bigirimana wrote a memo to Mr Kazinda, asking him to stop absconding from duty without permission and warned him against and “poor work habits”.

However, the Opposition MPs questioned the arrest of Kazinda. They said it was intended to “defeat justice” even as others defended Mr Bigirimana as a whistleblower.

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