Most-read stories of 2022

Some Monitor cover pages showing some of the top stories in 2022. Photo | Monitor

What you need to know:

  • At least 14 of the our 40 most read stories online were about death, with the demise of former House Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, 56, and Gen Elly Tumwine, 68, featuring prominently in those you spent time reading.

Your favourite stories online in 2022 are themed around fraud, gambling, death, the military and marriage. We bring you the 40 stories that you enjoyed most on our online platforms between December 2021 and November 2022.

The allure of easy money has Ugandans falling for what seems too good to be true. Our most read story this year is about Ugandans—not for the first time—being caught in the crosshairs of a get-rich-quick scheme. Overnight, billions vanished in thin air. Then there is bank and telecom related fraud including “investors” finding creative ways not to pay their creditors or scammers leveraging these platforms to trick the unsuspecting public.

The death of public figures depending on how they conducted themselves has become a very divisive and polarising issue. The evident interest is reflected in the stories that readers paid more attention to. At least 14 of the our 40 most read stories online were about death, with the demise of former House Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, 56, and Gen Elly Tumwine, 68, featuring prominently in those you spent time reading. The death of the duo tested a divided Uganda.

Since Uganda gained independence and especially after the 1966 crisis, the military has played a leading role in Uganda’s government. Taking power in 1986, the army arguably remains Uganda’s most powerful institution and has helped maintain President Museveni’s grip on power more than 36 years later. This year saw several developments in the army, including the institution being put on high alert, a pay raise for its top brass and these caused public debate and drew your interest.

This list is measured by total collective minutes of audience engagement and is just a small sample of the work this publication puts out, alongside its print edition and other digital sites. All the stories are available to read, for free, on our digital platforms.

For the past more than two decades, Uganda has played host to classic Ponzi schemes built on treachery and lies. Scammers always come back and find a willing population ready to be duped of billions of shillings. The efforts of the authorities to crack down on the scammers have also been wanting, with many of the perpetrators simply getting away with it. The BLQ Football Club scheme which raked in more than Shs60 billion is likely to be 2022’s biggest in Uganda. It is not the last, though.

Three young people with bright futures had their lives upended in a horrific collision at a railroad crossing. The car Norbert Tizikara, Caroline Aturinda and Ann Kabaaya were travelling in was smashed at the railway crossing in Nakawa Division, Kampala. 

The scandal involving businessman and motivational speaker Patrick Bitature and international lenders threatening to take his empire over failure to pay captured public attention. In this story it emerged that most of the $10m (Shs36.8 billion) loan borrowed was used to pay off an older $8m debt the businessman took out from the now-defunct Crane Bank. For some time, the term “Mezzanine”, which referred to the businessman’s combination of debt and equity financing, entered common usage in Uganda.

In this article, one of our guest authors offers his opinion on President Museveni’s statement from June 7 regarding the discovery of 31 million tonnes of gold in Uganda. The author, who labels President Museveni’s announcement as an early April fool’s joke, goes on to refute it using figures that can be independently verified. This opinion/fact-check caught your interest.

Charles Sunday Olim, alias Sipapa, a city socialite, who enjoyed official protection before his arrest and current prosecution, was seen as untouchable and utilised it to his own advantage. This narrative chronicles his legal misadventures, beginning with the suspected theft of Shs1.6 billion in cash, phones, and other technology.

As the Rajapaksa family lost control of Sri Lanka, Uganda, surprisingly, featured prominently in the country’s troubles. According to this story, part of the loot that caused the nation’s economy to collapse may have ended in Uganda via Entebbe International Airport.

More than 40 years after they first began their journey, the men and women who took control in 1986 under the direction of President Museveni still shape Uganda. You were intrigued by their profiles.

The casket containing the remains of then Speaker Jacob Oulanyah at Parliament in March. Photo | Abubaker Lubowa

Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo made some unsubstantiated comments about the Kabaka during a vigil for former Speaker Jacob Oulanyah. The Buganda Kingdom publicly denied his claim that the Kabaka of Buganda was flown to Germany aboard a presidential plane in 2021. The claims, which were never proven, led to a flood of criticism directed towards the head of the judiciary. He apologised.

Many people have lost money as a result of being the target of telco insiders and scammers. Hackers have also used telcos as a target, infiltrating their network and stealing huge sums of money. As this story reveals, the hackers altered Airtel Money’s software to approve each transaction that came their way before draining its central systems of billions.

With Gen Tumwine’s passing, the country’s divisions came to light and it reflects in the interest in the news about his passing.

11. Speaker Jacob Oulanyah dies in Seattle

Jacob Oulanyah passed away on March 20, months after being chosen as Speaker of Parliament. The attempts to save his life sparked a great deal of controversy and highlighted the divisions in the country.

12. Bitature loses court bid to block auctioning of his properties

The Commercial Division of the High Court dismissed an application in which businessman Patrick Bitature’s Simba Properties Investment Co. Ltd and Simba Telecom Ltd sought to halt the advertising and auctioning of his four prime properties as part of a loan dispute with the South African organization Vantage Mezzanine Fund. This captured your fancy.

13. Gen Elly Tumwine is dead

The bush-war general was taken to Nairobi, Kenya’s Aga Khan Hospital, where he died two weeks later.

It emerged that Speaker Anita Among’s chief bodyguard has fled to the United States (US). The following day, Ms Among alleged a plot to assassinate her.

Numerous suicides have been reported this year, particularly among school-aged youngsters. During the initial lockdown, a Senior Four student at Wanyange Girls’ Senior Secondary School, who was then 17 years old, predicted her demise in a WhatsApp group. This story captured her painful end.

After all UPDF soldiers were placed on standby class 1, the highest level of military readiness, President Museveni met with senior military officials in the south-western Ntungamo District.

The developing story around Gen Elly Tumwine, the former security minister, being taken to Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, where he was said to be struggling for his life at the time was widely read.

The narrative details Ms Susan Alweny’s final moments before she was murdered in Kiwatule, a Kampala suburb. Ms Alweny, 36, was waiting for a Boda Boda to take her to her house in Mbalwa, Kira Municipality, Wakiso District. She was the head of claims at Liberty Insurance. The deceased had just spoken to her four-year-old daughter Abba, expressing her fear of being robbed.

First published in 2014, this story about Lt Col (rtd) Ahmed Kashillingi, a key NRA commander during the five-year NRA Bush War re-emerged after news of his death this year. Kashillingi was a crucial NRA leader throughout the five-year NRA Bush War. He oversaw the fifth battalion that took control of the vital Katonga Bridge on the Masaka-Mbarara Road. While Kampala was being attacked in its latter stages in 1986, his army also barricaded Entebbe Road. But in 1992, he was detained and accused of treason. His struggles are detailed in this narrative after he broke with the system he helped design.

20. Court gives relief to Irish man who lost property to Ugandan fiancee

An Irish man who had been ordered removed from his home and 10 plots of property, including a farm, by a lower court, received reprieve from the Mpigi High Court. Apparently, Mr David Michael O’Connel purchased the homes under the name of his fiancée, Ms Catherine Nakawooza, a Ugandan. He was unable to demonstrate that he was the financier.

The lower court presided over by Chief Magistrate Ruth Nabaasa in September did not have the authority to try the case in question because the contested wealth0—in billions of shillings—exceeds the Shs50m cap that a magistrate can handle. This was the main finding of Justice Anthony Oyuko Ojok’s ruling from December 2.

21. DJ Alex Ndawula just lived the life fate threw at him

DJ Alex Nawula’s death struck a chord. This story provides a close-up view of his life.

22. UPDF placed on standby Class 1

The news that the army leadership had placed all Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers on standby Class One, the highest level of combat readiness, elicited public interest.

23. The empire Robert Mugabe built is collapsing like a castle built on sand

Former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was a legendary character, but this tale details how his empire is crumbling like a castle constructed on sand a few months after his passing.

24. DGF departure to take trillions from economy

The Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) was founded by eight development partners in July 2011.  Over the years, the programme encountered issues with certain segments of the Ugandan government. This month saw the end of it, putting a stop to a protracted conflict between the Kampala government and European funders.

The fact that between 64 percent and 70 percent of Uganda’s youth are unemployed explains why people are interested in hearing about someone who successfully quit their work when so many are looking.

This is one of the stories we did on the three young people who perished in a train-car collision.

A panel of three justices ruled unanimously that the spouse’s portion in the marital estate is not an automatic half-share, but rather is based on his or her contribution to it.

Three prestigious properties held by Mr Patrick Bitature were put up for auction by a Kampala-based auctioneer, making the conflict between the businessman and foreign lenders public.

Maj Gen David Oyite-Ojok has a significant place in Ugandan history. This is the tale of Denish Ojok, his son, who was born after his father’s demise. His mother also died before he could comprehend death, leaving him with no choice but to learn how to survive on his own at a young age.

Uganda declared that it had discovered a deposit of 31 million tonnes of gold ore, with a total yield of 320,000 tonnes of extractable pure gold. As was already shown, the news raised more questions than it did answers.

Nabillah Naggayi, a former Kampala District Woman MP, and her husband Isaac Ssempala acknowledged owing money to Prof Venansius Baryamureeba. This account shows how she used a loan for Sh850 million.

Due to deficits in the money that the Finance ministry transmitted to the districts to cover the pay bill, thousands of government employees’ salaries for September were not  remitted to their accounts by the end of the month, which has generated anxiety.

Court ruled that businessman Patrick Bitature alongside his companies, Simba properties Co. Ltd and Simba telecom among others, can be privately sued by Vantage Mezzanine Fund II partnership to recover a loan it extended to the businessman eight years ago.

A tale about pursuing love despite obstacles. He travelling for eight hours to see her was the true test of his love for her.

Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the son of President Museveni, has made a habit of ranting on Twitter. He miscalculated when he said that “his army” would just require two  weeks to seize Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Kenyans weren’t pleased.

Navigating through life. At the age of 45, John Kaboroga Kabigabwa decided to leave his formal job. Despite not having planned for life after work, he does not regret his decision.

An excerpt from Presidents’ Pressman by Lee Njiru. The memoir provides a unique insider’s view of events in the halls of power and details the efforts undertaken to develop Project Kenya.

Former central bank governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, who passed away on January 23, served in that capacity for just over two decades. His successor has not been named. This piece examines the ten economists and financial specialists who are in the running to succeed him amid a frenetic underhanded campaign for the top position.

The outspoken government critic and award-winning author said he will return home despite his ordeal with the authorities. Kakwenza Rukirabashaija sneaked out of the country to receive medical treatment for his injuries abroad.

When House Speaker Jacob Oulanyah was taken from his residential home to the Mulago National Referral Hospital and ultimately flown out of the country, he had gone three days without eating. When Oulanyah didn’t return their numerous phone calls for three days, his close friends intervened.

44. Link bus driver story leaves many puzzled

46. Museveni appoints Mao justice minister

47. Why Gen Tumwine’s body won’t lie in Parliament

49. Why Gen Tumwine’s body won’t lie in Parliament

50. Makerere suspends guild elections after student stabbed to death