Sunday January 9 2011

MPs pass Shs600b budget, soldiers gang-rape woman


By John Tugume

Even as the government seeks Shs12 billion to fight yellow fever that has so far claimed 50 lives, our dear lawmakers were busy planning something else.
Those who subscribe to the ruling NRM decided it was time to pass a supplementary budget of about Shs600 billion to facilitate emergency State House operations. But it was the word ‘emergency’ that troubled many opposition MPs after learning that the President would use Shs18.6 billion as a donation fund.
Bearing in mind that this is a campaign period, other candidates cried foul since President Museveni would be using tax payers’ cash to solicit for votes. More woes were yet to come.
Just a day after passing this supplementary budget, all NRM MPs were rewarded with Shs20 million each to facilitate their campaigns.
Although party Secretary General Amama Mbabazi claimed the money was got from NRM coffers, the timing stands to be questioned. And it was at this time that Uganda Peoples Congress flag bearer Olara Otunnu took to the podium to accuse President Museveni of plotting to exterminate the Acholi community.
But the President allegedly changed the plan after flying over the “luxurious green vegetation”. The State dismissed the November 14, 1986 document as Mr Otunnu’s own hand work. Then it was time for Mr Museveni to label his own accusations. But this time he did not fire back at Mr Otunnu but rather claimed there were elements in the Electoral Commission - put in place by himself – were planning to steal his votes.
The President sounded the alarm bell to fellow party men and told them to be on the lookout for those who might have intentions of rigging for the opposition. The EC, however, quickly stood up to clear its name saying all their members of staff work under a code of conduct.

Kyanjo’s claims
This was not all. Makindye West MP (Jeema) Hussein Kyanjo jumped into the fray claiming the army is planning to influence the results of the upcoming elections. Mr Kyanjo produced a document alleging that the military had been deployed in areas where NRM is weak so as to vote for the ruling party in February. As expected, the army denied the claims.

However, the same army did not deny other claims that their own men descended on a 20-year-old woman in Moroto District and raped her. The woman currently recuperating at Moroto Regional Referral Hospital was allegedly raped by 12 soldiers as she returned from a trading centre to celebrate the dawn of a new year.

Good response
The army officials announced that the soldiers would be charged in the military court martial while three senior commanders were suspended. As we wait for justice to prevail, we need to pray for our brothers in Sudan to have a peaceful referendum that will decide the south’s autonomy. Much has been said about looming violence as Arab-dominated north does not want to lose grip of the oil-rich south. The Sudanese go to the ballot today and the outcome will be announced in two-week’s time. But before the ballot, many Ugandan traders working in, especially Juba, had returned home in anticipation of violence.

Short relief
Finally cultural leaders will have breathing space after the government decided to shelve the Bill that is meant to stop them from participating in partisan politics. President Museveni is, however, said to have told MPs that the Cultural and Traditional Leaders Bill should be passed after consultations with other concerned parties so as to remove some of the contentious articles.
So, the breathing space might be short lived.

At least the cultural leaders will not be like a suspect in Soroti District who has eluded police for the last nine years after he allegedly committed murder. The suspect’s luck ran out after a tip off, close to 10 years after he allegedly killed a wife, husband, children and a visitor to this family.

Faces in the news

While on his campaign tour in Nakaseke District, FDC flag bearer Kizza Besigye was blocked by the anti-riot police from accessing Nakaseke FM where he was scheduled to address the listeners. Dr Besigye said he had paid for the air time earlier and demanded an explanation from the police for the act.

The country’s Representative to the United Nations, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, was accused of sponsoring the Kasubi Tombs fire by the former tombs caretaker. However, Dr Rugunda has demanded an apology from Ms Nalinnya Beatrice Namikka saying he could not have involved himself in such a “heinous act”.

People’s Progressive Party presidential candidate Jaber Bidandi Ssali might be the father of artiste Bebe Cool but the brain behind Kasepiki says he will instead cast his ballot in favour of President Museveni. The President recently sponsored Bebe’s operation in the US when he was shot in the leg by a policeman.