Thursday, 4 June 2015

Understanding Mbabazi's cryptic language

He had remained ambivalent for nearly a year and a half, much to the irritation of many of his supporters and the waiting media.
Ever since the dramatic NRM party retreat at the National Leadership Institute at Kyankwanzi in February 2014 when he was booed and denounced, Amama Mbabazi had mostly kept his cool and continued to pledge his loyalty to President Museveni and the cause of the NRM.
Further heckling and criticism followed through most of the year, including being dropped first as prime minister (in September) and as NRM secretary-general (in December), but Mbabazi remained calm and courteous amid these developments.
His wife Jacqueline became the face of the rumoured Mbabazi presidential bid, with some frustrated political analysts and supporters speculating that Mbabazi lacked the ambition but was being urged on by his wife.
After he was dropped as secretary-general with barely a word of protest or reaction, many started to conclude that the whole Mbabazi presidential story had been cooked up by the media desperate to find the next exciting political story or Opposition hero.
Some in the media, though (this writer among them) persisted with reporting on an impending Mbabazi bid largely because it was a true story, despite Mbabazi’s evasiveness.
Last week, the issue that has been reported on and speculated about for more than a year and even longer, finally and publicly began to fall into place.
Statements at wedding
At the wedding of the “rebel” NRM MP Barnabas Tinkasiimire of Buyaga West in Kibaale District, Amama Mbabazi made significant statements about government, the delivery of public services and the political direction the country ought to be taking.
The government-owned New Vision paper sort of reported Mbabazi’s presence as chief guest at the wedding, but also sort of dodged the part of reporting what Mbabazi had said.
It fell to the Sunday Monitor to report the revealing details.
“If you teachers decided to let the struggle go, it is upon you because the increment was every financial year to channel a percentage,” Mbabazi is quoted to have said, starting off with this comment on the ongoing national teachers’ strike.
Mbabazi was targeting popular sentiment with that statement on the teachers.
Doing what the NRM government and the police usually term “inciting the people”, Mbabazi referring to the dilapidated Kigumba-Kyenjojo road said: “I am really surprised that you continue to support leaders who have not met the demands made. It’s a caution for you to take lessons whenever voting.”
“Roads in Bunyoro should have been tarmacked yesterday since it’s the rich region blessed with natural endowments like oil, but because you ‘vote well’ here compared to Kabale and Kanungu where I come from, such leaders think all things are okay,” Mbabazi added.
His tongue-in-cheek reference to “voting well” was clearly aimed at President Museveni who a decade ago had remarked that it did not matter what Members of Parliament did on the floor of the national assembly as long as they voted “wisely”, meaning voted to support Bills or political moves that favoured Museveni.
The actual bombshell, at least in the sequence of the Sunday Monitor story, came toward the end of the speech Mbabazi made. No words could have been more plain than these in describing Mbabazi’s plans:
“I have kept many people guessing on my next step, but now I tell you confidently that in not more than a month I will be declaring my intentions or ambitions,” to which the crowd, understanding what this meant, cheered wildly.

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Africa | 20 March 2014 23:19 CET
IUIU Disqualifies All Guild Candidates
By Abdulhamid Ibrahim Manzil With Additional Files From Alex Onanyanga & Saidi Haruna
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All four contending candidates for the position of guild president at the Kampala Campus of Islamic University in Uganda have been found unfit for the task and disqualified.

According to the university vetting committee, also known as the Shura council, all the candidates scored below the pass mark of 70% in the ten examinable aspects.

'Somebody could be asked something as basic as reciting or locating the opening chapter of the holy Quran and would respond 'for sure I can't,' said Mr Ali Ssegirinya, the secretary Shura committee and also administration officer in charge of students' affairs (AOSA.)

'Surely how such a person could be entrusted with leadership at an Islamic university?' asked Mr Ssegirinya.

Despite a sizable number of non-Muslim students, the guild leadership at IUIU is exclusively ring-fenced for Muslim students on the presumption that are already grounded in basic concepts of Islamic leadership.

According to the committee report dated March 17, 2014, which this reporter has seen, none of the candidates got the required pass mark and the electoral commission was ordered to organize fresh nominations, an exercise that ended on March 20.

The candidates who included Fauza Mubiru, Ahmed Nkono, Issa Ogomba, and Saddam Hussein scored 64.4%, 55.7%, 59.06%and 60.8% respectively against the required 70%.

'None of those is eligible to recontest since they failed to satisfy the Shura council,' reads the committee report in part.

This, however, was not well received by one of the affected candidates Mr. Issa Ogomba who said, 'I am not satisfied with the results because I have not been given an opportunity to see how I was assessed.'

'We are engaging in dialogue with administration to see that the committee reconsiders its decision to let us rerun,' he said.

'If dialogue fails then all other options will be opened,' he said without specifying which other options.

A university alumni who preferred anonymity said, from experience the university Shura has a faulted attitude towards law students that seek guild leadership.

'It has in the past had problems with them as they are always quick to think about courts of law for even minor disputes,' he said.

As it is, all the affected candidates are from the law class.

But the Shura secretary, Mr Ssegirinya dismissed all these claims as 'reckless and false.'

'The candidates failed the stipulated benchmarks and they knew that as a result they had to be dropped. That is a standard, measure in any world system,' he said.

He said what happened is not actually unique to Kampala campus as it has once happened at the main campus in Mbale and the females' campus at Kabojja.

'We would expect the law students to know all the procedures prior to contesting rather than cry foul after failing to impress the committee,' he said.

Leadership crisis
On whether the unfolding events would create a leadership crisis, Mr Ssegirinya said the students' guild constitution was replete with provisions on how to go about such an occurrence.

'In 2011 at the main campus, the interim guild that runs for the transitional period had its mandate extended as stipulated by law so we shall apply that precedence,' he said.

The criteria for vetting the candidates, also seen by this reporter, indicates that the prospective candidate should know how to recite at least 15 chapters from the holy Qur'an, general knowledge of Islamic core principles, leadership experience, knowledge of current affairs and have a Cumulative Grade Point Average(CGPA) above 3.0 with no retakes among others.

Some aspirants for other positions managed to sail through the grueling committee by a whisker. These are Lady Vice Guild President Aisha Galabuzi with 70.1%, Sewaya Haruna for speaker with 74.2% among others.

Mr. Saddam Hussein, one of the contestants, said he is going to concentrate on his studies as he has other commitments to pursue.

'I am ready to move on. My course is wanting and I have other ambitions to pursue', he said.

Other axed candidates were not available for comment as they were reportedly recuperating from the huge blow of disappointment they suffered.

Meanwhile, by press time, four new nominations for the guild post had been submitted to the electoral commission but this reporter managed to identify only that of Mr Kassim Ssekalema, who was run-up in the 2013 race. He is a third-year law student.

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The Islamic Hajji Rituals


October 13 will correspond with the 8th day of Dhul-hijja, 1434 A.H. It is the day on which all Muslims who went to Mecca for pilgrimage are supposed to verbally declare their intentions for hajj rituals that will occupy them for at least six days. This intension is declared after cleansing the body from any impurities and clipping of the nails.
Male pilgrims put on two pieces of white cloth that symbolises Ihraam (sanctity) covering the upper and lower parts of the body. The females do the same but remain in their normal clothes that cover all body parts excluding the face and palms. The intention is declared in Mecca for pilgrims who perform a type of hajj called Al-Tamattu’ (relaxed) that almost all Uganda’s pilgrims perform.
In the same state, pilgrims begin to proclaim a vital phrase that is normally termed as the theme of hajj that goes; “Labbayk, Allahumma Labbayk, Labbayk, La Shareeka laka labbayk, Innal-hamda wan-ni’mata laka wal-mulk, La shareeka lak” which means, “Here I am O Allah, (in response to Your call), here I am. Here I am, You have no partner, here I am. Verily all praise, grace and sovereignty belong to You. You have no partner.”
Prohibitions in the state of sanctity
Having declared the intention of hajj, pilgrims are subjected to a number of prohibitions that include wearing of sewn clothes for men, cutting or plucking hair from any body part, clipping of the nails, covering the head, wearing of perfume and engagement in sexual intercourse. In this state, pilgrims are also not allowed to enter into a marriage contract, hunt, or cut down trees in the sacred zone of Mecca. Such prohibitions among others are aimed at instilling the principles of obedience, patience and strict following of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
Proceeding to Mina
On the 8th of Dhul-Hijja (October 13, 2013), pilgrims proceed to Mina, a sanctuary about 12 kilometres from Makkah with portable foodstuffs, drinks, simple mats, umbrellas, and other simple personal belongings. This year, Uganda’s pilgrims paid Usd200 for feeding and accommodation while in this area. It is a plain with air conditioned tents, and a complex road network that confuses even those who have been to it several times.
The Saudi government placed police units equipped with fire brigades and ambulances for emergencies that might occur due to the big numbers. Pilgrims spend here about 12 hours and proceed to Arafah. While here, pilgrims conduct obligatory prayers, listen to spiritual talks and recite the Talbiyah (the theme of hajj).
9th of Dhu’l-Hijjah (October 14, 2013): the Day of Arafah
After performing the dawn (Fajr) prayer at Mina or after midnight, pilgrims will leave for Arafah. It is a distance of 9 kilometres that can be covered within 15-20 minutes on road. However, railway transport which has been fixed recently has shortened this distance. Scholars of Islamic jurisprudence consider being in the valley of Arafah on this day as the gist of hajj. Upon arriving, pilgrims look for tents for which they were allocated and rest until noon. Being a great spiritual day, many Muslims endeavour to donate a lot of foods and drinks to pilgrims.
The King of Saudi Arabia, Abdallah Ibn Abdulaziz too, donates a special package of snacks that is distributed throughout the day. Pilgrims conduct Dhuhur and Asr prayers combined at 12:30 p.m. and listen to sermons delivered by the agreed upon sheikhs. From afternoon onwards, pilgrims stand outside their tents and begin to seek for Allah’s forgiveness, repent to Him, ask for numerous needs of this world and hereafter until sunset.
For Muslims who did not go for hajj, fasting on this day and engagement in supplications and other acts of worship are highly recommended. Fasting on this day is said to be a reason for forgiveness of sins for two years (present and previous).
9th – 10th of Dhul-Hijjah (October 14-15, 2013): Moving to Muzdalifah
From Arafah, pilgrims move to Muzdalifah (sacred place about 5-7 kilometres from Arafah). Here, they pray after sunset and later make Isha prayers together and rest for the first hours of the night. They then wake up early to conduct the dawn prayer and supplicate until sunrise. Muslim scholars unanimously agree that after sunset, women and the elderly are permitted to leave Muzdalifah after midnight and proceed to Mina or Mecca.
Staying in Muzdalifah will be under the open sky with bathing and toilet facilities. Pilgrims leave this place early morning, having picked pebbles that they will need for the “stoning” ceremony (ramy) on the 10th day (Eid-Adhuha day).
10th of Dhul-Hijjah (October 15, 2013): Stoning of Jamarat ul Kubra at Mina
This is a hectic day for pilgrims. They move from Muzdalifah to Mina and use the seven picked pebbles to stone the biggest pillar (Jamaratul-Kubra) that is in the direction of Mecca, while saying; Bismillah Allahu Akbar (In the name of Allah, Allah is the greatest). This pillar symbolises the devil that wanted to derail Prophet Ibrahim from fulfilling his promise of sacrificing his son Ismael. The stoning must be performed according to pre-determined schedules sanctioned by the hajj ministry. This is followed by the sacrifice and the shaving/cutting of hair (Halq/Taqseer).After the stoning of the devil, a sacrifice is required. This is an animal slaughtered in commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim who was determined to sacrifice his son, Ismael. Uganda’s pilgrims paid between Usd120 and Usd140) for this service and the Saudi Government through the Islamic Development Bank slaughter for them.
The meat is donated to poor people of the developing nations. Some Ugandan pilgrims go to slaughter houses in Mina to slaughter their animals and enjoy the meat as well. The ritual of sacrifice is done on 10th, 11th, 12th , and 13th of Dhul-Hijja in Mina and the world over.
The pilgrims may now shower, shave, and change into normal clothes. The prohibitions imposed are now removed, except that you must not have sexual relations. (Husband and wife may not enjoy conjugal relations until after Tawaf al-Ifadha - the Circumambulation of the Kaabah, central to the Hajj rites.)
The pilgrims return to the Holy City of Mecca to circumambulate the Kaabah(the holy house of Allah) seven times on 10th of Dhul-Hijja. This is an essential pillar of hajj that is followed by performance of two units of prayer in the direction of Maqaam Ibrahim (footprint of Prophet Ibrahim). The pilgrims are encouraged to take some Zamzam water after these two units. Another essential element of hajj that is done immediately after these two units is the movement between the two hillocks of Safa and Marwah. It is done seven times while praising Allah or supplicating to Him as it is done in the circumambulation around the holy house. The two hillocks are within the sacred Mosque of Makkah. Each prayer conducted within it is multiplied by 100,000 times

Media fees Hinder press freedom

The role of the media in the state is crucial because democracy and good governance are inextricably bound to a free press.
Thus, by nature of its role, the media often times finds itself on a collision course with the government that ought to protect it.
The Constitution has one of the most progressive Bill of rights that includes Article 29 that guarantees freedom of expression, and this government has been chest-thumping as an upholder of free speech.
There is a new proposal for journalists to pay for a practicing certificate, annual renewal of the certificate, obtaining an enrolment certificate and other fees for entry into the register of journalists.
This is a clear indication that the government is afraid of the media’s successes and is struggling to interfere with journalism itself.
The freedom of expression being a fundamental, natural, inalienable right ought not to be restricted by any measure. Equally, there should be no restriction on who may practice journalism.
In case this proposal is meant to regulate the work of journalists, there are other decent, time tested methods government can use.
Seeking legal redress for stories it finds wanting is the surest and obviously most civil way.
Prohibitive government policies normally do not achieve the goals for which they are intended.
The freedom of information remains the most important pillar of a vibrant democracy because it influences the electoral behaviour of the citizens positively as they make informed choices and contribute earnestly and intelligently in public discourse.
In a young democracy like ours, deliberate impairment of the press using such fees that are entirely unnecessary will obviously reverse the tide of the progress made so far. Certainly, all media houses have their editorial policies and are strict on professionalism. Government should partner with editors because a media house is the chief beneficiary of professional journalism as it greatly impacts its credibility.
The idea of having journalists register with government and additionally renew such a certificate annually at a fee will impair the independence of the fourth arm of government and give way to obnoxious laws that will strangle the press.
The belief that journalism is a threat to governments is weak, feeble unresearched and altogether unfounded.
Because life is meaningless without the ability to effect progress and advance sustainable development, restricting the media, which is supposed to enlighten society on the various challenges it faces, implies restricting human progress.

Besigye, Lukwago arrested over poll reforms meet

Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and former FDC boss Dr Kizza Besigye were on Thursday charged before courts of law for allegedly disobeying lawful orders issued to them by police not to hold a meeting at Nsambya Youth Sharing Hall to discuss electoral reforms.
The duo voluntarily appeared before Makindye Chief Magistrates Court and denied the charges slapped against them by the state from the new Public Order Management Act 2014.
The opposition political activists were responding to criminal summons issued to them last Wednesday by the court.
They were jointly charged with two others who included Besigye’s driver Fred Kato and his aide Jethro Nuwagaba.

Presiding Grade One Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu Musenze, released the four suspects on a non cash bail of Shs2 million and each of their nine sureties was bonded at a noncash of Shs1 million.
While releasing the suspects, the magistrate hailed them for being lawful citizens who voluntarily brought themselves to court and also that they had substantial sureties.
Some of their sureties included: Kawempe Division Mayor, Mubaraka Munyangwa, Makindye KCCA councilor, Allan Ssewanyana and Rubaga North MP, Moses Kasibante.
Court ordered the suspects to return to court on July 6 when the hearing of the case will start as investigations into the matter are complete.
Prosecution led by Ms Christine Byamugisha, alleged that the suspects on May 14, this year at Nsambya Youth Sharing Hall, disobeyed the lawful orders of police officer Siraje Bakaleke, the Kampala South Metropolitan commander when he instructed them to disperse from the meeting venue.
Their being charged comes two weeks after a group of ten youths were charged with being a common public nuisance at City Hall Court over the same Nsambya meeting. But one wonders why the other group was charged before City Hall Court with a different charge and Besigye’s also is charged with another