How safe are we?

“He’s gone,” a workmate of mine bellowed from the corner of our office. He hurriedly walked over and showed me. “Look. He’s gone,” he asserted, his hands trembling with fear. His eyes, bloodshot and his face quickly registered fear. He showed me gory pictures of the former AIGP, late Felix Kaweesi, who had just been gunned down by unknown assailants in Kulambiro, a Kampala suburb.

This was on Friday morning.

It’s been the talk of town, talk of the country. A blanket of darkness covered the country and people, us, the citizenry, are trapped in fear. Assailants had pulled on motorbikes and rained the late Felix Kaweesi’s car with a hailstorm of bullets, killing all the 3 occupants. Streams of blood snaked around the dry murrum, collecting into a pool, which has now become an unforgettable image hanged in the insides of our minds.

Slain AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi. Photo: Chimpreports
Slain AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi. Photo: Chimpreports

I am scared. Everyone is scared. My neighbors are scared. My workmates are scared. I have friends who stay in Kulambiro and they can’t explain how scared they are. My mum called me from the village and said, “Tutiinire naitwe!” (Loosely translated as, “We are also scared.”). We are scared not because of death (it’s inevitable to die), but because of the way we shall die, the way Afande died. This is not the way people should die. This is not how the script was written. This is too fickle. Too sad. Too strange. Being gunned down in broad daylight,shamelessly, not giving a hoot about onlookers, simply borders on the new age boldness.

How safe are we?

It’s the question lingering on my mind. It’s probably the question lingering on everyone’s mind. How safe are we? The late Felix Kaweesi, by virtue of the fact that he was a high-ranking officer, had body guards. And, come on, he’s a policeman. He’s armed. He had a gun. And access to even better guns. You would fear him, really. But the assailants didn’t. They drove over with balls of steel and took his life; a person who had guns and bodyguards. If they can do it to him, how about me? How about you? How about us? Poor souls with no gun, but bare hands. Poor us with no bullets, but pants to pee in when put in a similar spot. How about us?

Handgun
Handgun

Insecurity in the neighborhoods has been rampant for the past years. Every day, someone is mugged in the darkened alleys as they drag their tired bodies back home. Every day, a house is broken into and valuables go missing. Every day, someone loses a tooth, a phone and a life. Every day, Kifeesi boys hatch and multiply as they please. Every day, Police buys a new book to register theft cases because yesterday’s book is full of similar cases. Every day, I fear going back home as soon as it clocks 9PM. Every day, cars are being targeted on gates by goons armed with guns, sticks, iron bars, stones, and fists. Every day, security officers promise us peace and security yet every day, their words grow teeth and they bite them.

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Commander-In- Chief, “self-proclaimed freedom fighter”, thumps his chest like the mighty King Kong in an act of self-praise for having brought peace into this country. Yes, he did. I mean, I want to think it was worse back then, but sadly, we are witnessing the same things here.

We are no longer safe. We no longer sleep in peace, in our houses, in our beds, without worrying about our lives and our possessions. Something should be done. I don’t think the promised CCTV cameras will trap the burglar who’s trying to break into my house. The goon might just pose, or even take a darned selfie with the CCTV camera and run away with my 32 inch Flat TV and my sauce pans.

How safe are we?

Land Grabbing in Albertine region affects women, youth and children

Different studies on the land question in Albertine region reveal a low legal awareness on land matters among the citizenry; as well as a limited access to information on land rights. Specifically,communities lack knowledge of key provisions in the national constitution, in the national land act and now the national land policy; and are ignorant of the tenure systems in the country. Women, children,and the youth hardly participate in the land policy processes and therefore, this has kept them in the dark about their land rights. They lack information on steps to take when faced with land conflicts.

In many cases, some government authorities including Police, Resident District Commissioners and elected leaders have severally attempted to authoritatively settle land disputes without any mandate and fairness. Given its cultural diversity and, the recent discovery of oil, Albertine region has been faced with rampant land rights related conflicts and abuses over the years. In some instances, citizens have got shocked when they are evicted from the land they have occupied for their lifetime! The resulting displacement has greatly increased the vulnerability of women, youth and children. Indeed, in some instances, some lives have already been lost in struggle for land ownership in the region.

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A lady goes about her farm work: Photo Credit: Africa Renewal on Flickr

Albertine area is part of the wider region in Uganda where Oil and Natural Gas is discovered, with over 60 different tribes living together. The region has a total population estimated at 1,872,494 people spread in Nebbi, Bullisa,Kiryandongo, Nwoya and Hoima districts (Source: Extract from District Development Plans). Hoima and Masindi account for 57% of the total population. 25.3% of people are poor according to the research report of Economic Development Policy & Research Department-Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development; May 2012. The region is faced with highly contentious, yet unresolved tribal conflicts commonly referred to as the “Bafuruki” and “Balalo” questions. The “Bafuruki” mean immigrants and the “Balalo” mean pastoralists from Ankole region.

 

Other development challenges identified in different studies indicate that the region is faced with: Inadequate access to information relating to land rights and the legal regime; Dysfunctional land administration and Dispute resolution institutions; inadequate access to legal justice for land rights;

Weak adherence to customary rules and; Gender disparities. These challenges and others have severely affected the rights of women and children; as manifested in the increased domestic and gender based violence, family displacement, loss of property, school dropouts, food insecurity, environmental destruction, societal disintegration, as well as poverty. The discovery of oil has further escalated these challenges with speculators flowing into the region hoping to cash in on available employment and other opportunities from oil exploration.

In terms of economic and political context, over 70% of the local citizens in the region are mainly subsistence farmers who plant mainly cassava, maize, potatoes and beans for their livelihoods according to district development plans. As a result of oil development activities, crops in the periphery of oil wells have been destroyed and landowners evicted. Where compensations are affected, it has been marred with corruption, disagreement on rates, and delays in compensation.

Photo Credit: SouthWorld
Photo Credit: SouthWorld

The Uganda National Constitution (1995) states that, the land in the country belongs to the people and outlines four land tenure systems including Milo land, leasehold, freehold, and customary tenure. In the Albertine region , over 80% of land is customarily owned, with over 85% under family/clans. The Land Act also upholds the constitution’s support for women and children, specifically the girls’ property rights by stating in Article 27 that any decision made on customary land according to the customs or traditions that denies women access to ownership, occupation or use of any land or violates the rights of women in the 1995 constitution is null and void. The Land Act further outlines what obligations tenants and landlords have towards one another. The 2010 amendment was made to the Land Act which requires court orders for a lawful or bona fide tenant on mailo land to be evicted, and also requires landlords looking to sell to give tenants the first option to buy.

 

The Land Act 1998 (Chapter 227) encourages open land markets, the legal way to the rich,powerful and those holding strong positions in various parameters of government- alongside a continuously growing population and the weak rule of law, brings on board the unfavorable competition for land. This scenario further contributes to the high rate of tenure insecurity in the region-presenting a heinous situation of bloody land disputes already occurring. This all affects women,children and Youths.

 

Land administration and dispute resolution institutions specifically the local government and traditional structures have inadequately responded to land related emerging deficits in the region – in the face of an emerging oil sector. Conflicts between oil companies and local citizens; as well as those among the local communities and within families- continue to emerge. Some of these are related to claims in the acquisition of land where oil wells are, and during seismic activities; while others are related to intra-family disputes over ownership, especially after a disposal has been made. Speculators have also rushed to acquire land in the region in anticipation of cashing in on the oil resource.

However, no meaningful dialogues, or even representation from local dispute resolution and land administration institutions have been organized for affected families and communities. Currently, local citizens feel that government has sacrificed them to land grabbers, a scenario that may stimulate conflict. This calls for an urgent intervention to make the land management and legal aid services in the region more efficient and accessible to the vulnerable populations.

 

While many land related cases go on unreported, many other victims fail to complete the process to register land disputes with courts of law; either after intimidation by the culprits or due to lack of the financial muscle required to meet the legal costs involved. Moreover, sometimes witnesses are procured and intimidated by the culprits, a scenario that subjects poor (or child) victims to maximum vulnerability. This makes it very hard for the ordinary communities to make their land rights a reality, directly impacting on women, youth and children’s rights. Moreover, courts of law in the region continue to face a backlog of cases related to land wrangles.

 

For instance, during this article development process, consultative findings indicated that; of 723 cases reported to Masindi Police Station in 2013 alone, 18% of these were related to land and property disputes (Source: Masindi Police Station Registry, Jan 2017). Between 2014 and 2015, a total of 89 land related cases were registered with the High Court in Masindi. Of these, only 13 (15% of the total) had been concluded by Jan 2017. Of the total, only 34 (38%) had been fixed for hearing in the two years, while 48% (42 cases) had never been fixed for hearing in 2 years (Source: Masindi High Court Registry, Jan 2017). In addition, the practice of adjourning the matter all the time has also affected poor victims to lose interest in their court cases. This has the potential to pave way to land grabbers and, to mob justice at times. Functionality of land administration management as well as the alternative dispute resolution mechanisms is vital in increasing access to legal justice for land rights in the region.

Gender Disparities: Women make over 90% of the land use particularly for the family consumption food production. Research findings of International Alert March 2013 revealed that in the Albertine Graben, households’ decision making is mainly male dominated. For example, more men (47%) than women (22%) reported taking charge of buying assets for the household. In addition, fewer women (19%) than men (38%) reported making independent decisions in disposing of vital assets such as land.

On most indicators of gender roles and practices, except repairing the house, more women than men reported that they do everything indicating that women’s workload is higher than that of men. In some cases unfortunately, upon the death of the male spouses, widows are immediately evicted from their marital pieces either by their in-laws or even their own children. The youth (and children) are equally treated in the same way with their mothers. In such a way, the rights of children, women and youth have been denied, rendering them helpless in the face of land related disputes.

There is always a gentleman’s agreement in communities for governing communally owned pieces of land including the wetlands. However, such agreements are not clearly known to the communities and are not respected. The women, youth (and children) have no knowledge about communal land ownership under the customary tenure, little do they know about the protection mechanisms. In this region, there is less to document, share and educate the young generation and the general population on the importance and rules of respecting all forms of customary land tenure system including communal land ownership. Therefore, when an eviction occurs, the rights of the vulnerable are highly abused.

The Civil Society Organizations are recommended to advocate for land rights issues among women in in Albertine region of Uganda and de-campaign the cultures that limits as well as impedes women’s access to Land. Regulations and policies should follow the universal rights of women to land and property ownership. To change community attitudes, there is a need to promote more open discussions to bring the problem of property grabbing out of the family sphere and into the public sphere. It is also essential that, women, children and the youth participate in efforts to secure their rights.

The media, CSO’s, religious leaders and land rights activists should increase pressure on government to increase transparency and accountability. Information’s on land transaction should be made accessible at sub counties and at the district level. The community members in the oil exploration areas should get organized under some form of group in order to pull resources, for common voice so that their voices can be heard. This could be spearheaded by the civil society. The civil society should also ensure that information reaches people. This information includes existing as well as that collected by the CSOs.

 

The Symbiosis Of Gender Relations: Another equality rant or Science that you will believe?

I believe in a supreme being but I do not subscribe to religion neither do I believe that there is only one male or female God. I have held this belief for three years. On March 12 th , 2017, I accompanied my family to All Saints Cathedral for Sunday service.

During the praise and worship session I forgot that I was merely accompanying the family and I became a clapping, dancing, singing member of the congregation. As the service progressed, I felt elevated beyond just being a member of the congregation and I shared a spiritual moment with the preacher of the day. Dr. Julius D. Twongyeirwe said words that I have not heard before in Church.

The wonderful preacher man told the congregation that while the Bible says that WIVES should submit to their HUSBANDS, the same bible impliedly tells HUSBANDS to submit to their WIVES. Dr. Julius quoted from Ephesians 5: 22 and 25,

“Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”

 

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Webster’s Universal English Dictionary defines the word SUBMIT to means surrendering (oneself) to another person. In essence Christ was submissive to the church. He did this by giving himself up or surrendering or submitting to the Church. Clearly that verse does not mean that men are a superior force to which women should submit. It only means that both men and women are equal and when they become HUSBAND and WIFE, they in essence are submitting to each other or giving up themselves to each other.

These words transcended my spirit from being a Church-Avoiding- Agnostic to a Church-Enthusiast-Agnostic. For once in a long time I felt that Church can be a community to belong even for an Agnostic who upholds Gender Equality.

I am an example of Ugandans who choose to avoid certain ideological inclinations because we feel alienated from a group. I chose not to subscribe to religion because (among other things) the Church previously denied me biblical evidence of Gender Equality. I know that some Ugandans (both male and female) have chosen to avoid the topic of Gender Equality. In fact many that I have interacted with believe that Gender Equality is simply feminist propaganda.

I want to be a Dr. Julius D. Twongyeirwe to the Ugandans who believe this. I want to preach to you the message of Gender Equality without asking you to convert into a feminist or to subscribe to feminism. I want you to find evidence that man and woman are fundamentally equal and I wish that you will make an independent and informed decision to uphold Gender Equality regardless of your religion, culture, sexuality, economic status, social status or education status.

The journey of life begins upon conception when the male sperm and female ovary merge to conceive a baby. Simple science tells us that you cannot conceive unless the ovary and sperm unite. This in itself speaks of an essential symbiosis between a man and a woman, so essential to the extent that humanity cannot reproduce if these two dissimilar species (female and male) antagonistically exclude each other.

I choose to refer to the relations between men and women as symbiotic because a ‘symbiosis’ is an interaction between different species. Men and women are different and their differences enable them to complement each other. Here I speak of relations not in the sense of romantic relationships or child to child relationships, or child to parent relationships or any other kind of relationships. I speak of relations in the most general sense to refer to interactions between the male and female species within different spheres ranging from social, cultural, economic, or institutional.

If you can appreciate the relevance of two different species in the sustainability of a symbiotic relation then you can choose to believe in Gender Equality because without MAN,there cannot be WOMAN, and, without WOMAN, there cannot be MAN.

A symbiosis can be mutualistic, commensalistic, parasitic or it may involve interspecific competition. Symbiotic mutualism with regard to men and women involves both sexes benefiting from each other. Symbiotic commensalism involves one sex benefiting without affecting the other: it is selfish but not destructive to the non-beneficiary. A symbiotic parasitism is one where one sex benefits at the expense of the other: it is both selfish and destructive to the host (whether male or female). Interspecific competition is a kind of symbiosis where the two different sexes compete for the same resources and if the resources are not sufficient for both, then the survival of one is threatened.

The most common symbiosis between man and woman is Interspecific Competition or parasitic symbiosis. Men and women are in a constant battle for the world’s resources. If you want the scales to tilt in your favour you have to manipulate power structures within society.

These power structure are what we refer to as Patriarchy or Matriarchy. In a Patriarchy men hold the Staff of Power. They are the heads of the family, they are the heads of government and the decision makers. They feed and feed on the resources until there is little or nothing for the women. In a Matriarchy the women Rule. They determine who gets what, they are powerful and the men are their subjects. Again they feed and feed on the resources until there is little or nothing for men.

The idea that a man and a woman are fundamentally equal is a hotly contested subject that often sparks arguments and verbal fights between its discussants. Women and men only fight over gender equality because we see each other as potential competition and therefore device means to out compete each other or to be parasitic. I implore you to choose mutual symbiosis. The world functions better when we choose gender equality and compartmentalizes and the world fails when we elevate one sex over the other.

This Blog was Curated From Daphne Arinda’s Blog for the social justice blog

Photo Source: Center for International Forestry Research

 

The Monsters Online

The internet is generally a place where folks from around the world get together and agree that Cats are more adorable than dogs. And they do this through images, gifs, audio and a whole lot of videos. There might be the occasional dog lover who will put up a lengthy video of his dog fetching things, cuddling with babies and being sweet but generally, cats are the masters – at least according to the internet.

That being said, it is worth noting that while the rest of the world is following a YouTube fight-to-the-death (Cage Match) between a cat named Larry and a Dog named Harry or even a Facebook tussle (Fussle) between Pastor Kayanja’s followers and Pastor Kakande’s loyalists, there is always a group of people whose interests are elsewhere. There is always a group whose interest is making everyone else sad and gloomy.

These people’s interests are not just in making the lives of others miserable, but in making sure that the internet laughs at other people’s misery. They seem to derive pleasure in fights online (most of which are over worthless issues like the shade of a woman’s thighs or the size of a guy’s forehead). They will find pleasure in the strangest things and will not hesitate to insult anyone / anything as long as it will gather them a few LIKES or Retweets here and there; something folks online have labeled cyber bullying.

Picture a school where there are children of various skill sets and talents. One child is good at music, the other at swimming and another is an expert at biology. When these children interface, there arises the desire to impose oneself as the most talented. And perhaps each one is talented in their own field, but does it make them any less talented or skilled if they do not dominate others or ridicule others.

Anyway, this is what the internet has become of late – a school yard where everyone is struggling to exert dominance based on the assumption (right or wrong) that they are the best at what they do and everyone else sucks. And this is something that everyone who gets online grapples with on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, while there is the evil demon of internet bullying and ridiculing, there is the even worse demon of internet security.

Internet security is that part of computer security that deals with the internet and how to browse securely so as to stay away from attacks from individuals, organisations, Governments and other such parties from the pits of hell. In this day and age, someone might not need to track you down physically, bang at your door and break in so they can take your information. All one needs to do is sit on a Computer that is connected to the internet, press a few buttons here and there, and they can have all your information right there on their screen.

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For this reason therefore, there is need to secure one’s presence online in as many ways as possible. The first point one must understand is that since there is a lot of information online regarding your innocent self, there are people looking to use this information for all kinds of reasons. Without necessarily diving into what this information can be used for, I will quickly highlight that the four major threats are malicious software, denial-of-service attacks, phishing, and application vulnerabilities.

The greatest threat for the everyday person include malware (which refers to malicious software that can be used to interrupt computer operations), computer viruses (which can infect files on the computer), botnets (which carry out large scale activities for their creators), Spyware (which basically keep an eye on everything you are doing), Ransomware (which takes control of the computer it attacks), Trojan horses (which appear harmless but end up creating some issues in the background) as well as scareware (which rips people off of their hard earned money through fake online schemes).

While all these might want to have a go at your computer, it might be advisable to have stops to these threats. The three layers that are often recommended include the use of an Antivirus, using Password managers and applying Security Suites.

More complex contingencies like Network Layer Security, Internet Protocol Security, Security tokens, Electronic Mail Security, Firewalls and appropriate browser choices are all notable steps one can take to protect their presence online.

Anyone who is getting online and has a worry about their security and identity online can always opt for a layered approach towards security. This means that you will need more than just one solution to the problem of internet security.

And if the Government wants to stop you from saying something online, there are always ways to ‘beat the system’ so that your message does not get suffocated. This however, must be used with extreme caution as it can expose you to riskier threats and might get you in trouble with your Government especially if you are notorious for giving your Government headache online.

In today’s world, there are people who spend sleepless nights coming up with ways of attacking you online. Of course they don’t really have balls to attack you in person seeing as most of them are wussies but they will gladly hack into your systems, steal your information and probably sell it to the highest bidder or use it to make your life hell. To protect yourself, you need to be on guard all the time and everywhere so that as these guys figure out ways to attack your system, you stay ahead of the game with newer and fresher methods of countering their attacks.

“The internet is just a world passing notes around a classroom.”― Jon Stewart

This Blog was curated from Bernard Olupot’s Blog a social justice blogger.

Freedom of speech, expression and internet use under threat in Uganda

Uganda has well-articulated and documented laws safeguarding the rights of person and freedoms of speech, expression and internet use. In Africa, the country has the second best provisions and articles promoting the freedoms of expression and information access enshrined in the 1995 constitution which is only second to that of South Africa.

The 1995 Constitution of Uganda is elaborate in its provision on the freedom of opinion, expression and information access. Article 29(1)a, provides that everyone shall have the right to “freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of the press and other media”. Article 41(1) provides that “Every citizen has a right of access to information in the possession of the State or any other agency of the State and in Article 20;everyone has the right of expression and access to information which is inherent and not granted by the state. The role of the state is merely to fulfill its constitutional obligation of promoting the right to expression and information access.

Employees of the Daily Monitor newspaper with their mouths taped shut, sing slogans during a protest against the closure of their premises by the Uganda government, outside their offices in the capital Kampala May 20, 2013. Police raided Uganda's leading independent newspaper on Monday and disabled its printing press after it published a letter about a purported plot to stifle allegations that Uganda President Yoweri Museveni is grooming his son for power, a senior editor said. © 2013 James Akena/Reuters
Employees of the Daily Monitor newspaper with their mouths taped shut, sing slogans during a protest against the closure of their premises by the Uganda government, outside their offices in the capital Kampala May 20, 2013. Police raided Uganda’s leading independent newspaper on Monday and disabled its printing press after it published a letter about a purported plot to stifle allegations that Uganda President Yoweri Museveni is grooming his son for power, a senior editor said. © 2013 James Akena/Reuters

Despite these fantastically drafted provisions, freedoms of speech, internet and expression is under constant threat by repressive regime officials. Superficially, the Uganda media and other rights activists have enjoyed some considerable freedoms of expression, reporting and exposing government excesses, criticism of government policies etc. However in most cases, when media personals or individuals attack or in any way express their opinion on the ‘Untouchable,’ repressive actions are the later outcome.

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Since Uganda attained her political independence in 1962, there have been recorded evidences of gross Human rights abuses and media restrictions. The Obote regime for example censored several media groups and banned several newspapers like the ‘Muno’. The Amin regime was equally the same; journalists, individuals who have criticized the government policies have faced physical violence, criminal charges, threats, and imprisonment and at times were killed like the late St. Janan Luwum. In 1986, President Museveni came into power and instituted the “Movement” system,which denied other political parties the right to operate for almost 20 years.

However, Uganda welcomed the multiparty political dispensation since 2005 after a staggering 19 years of ‘one party –single vision, one man rule’ under the NRM – Museveni leadership. Political parties now have freedoms to hold party meetings, mobilizations and have internal democracy and participate in elections but in most cases, they have faced the government extremes.

A protester at the Daily Monitor poses in Kampala in 2013 after the newspaper was raided following reports on a falling out among army generals over whether President Museveni's son would succeed himMichele Sibloni/AFP/Getty
A protester at the Daily Monitor poses in Kampala in 2013 after the newspaper was raided following reports on a falling out among army generals over whether President Museveni’s son would succeed himMichele Sibloni/AFP/Getty

The government positions a wide range of tactics to frustrate individuals or media groups exposing their inhuman activities like physical violence, harassment, bureaucratic interferences, criminal charges and corruption related cases. The government employed such tactics during the September 2009 political unrests, the February 2011 and 2016 voting processes, and the Kasese massacre etc. Consequently, undermining media freedoms, freedoms of speech and expressions and the people (media and other rights activist) have increasingly become frustrated and end up demoralized for fear of government excesses, brutality and harassment.

Recently, there was a much heated debate between the First Lady Janet Museveni and Dr. Stella Nyanzi of Makerere University.Dr. Nyanzi critiqued the First Lady in her online expression dubbed You are not a mother to Ugandans’ a statement that didn’t go well with the First Lady. Nyanzi was furious about the issues of sanitary pads which the government had promised to freely distribute to school going girl. While campaigning in Lango sub region in 2015, President Museveni assured the populace that once elected back into power, his government would provide sanitary pads to school going children.

“….So that the girls do not run out of school because they are embarrassed by their periods when they do not have pads,” the President said then. However, the Education Minister Janet Museveni stated that there were no funds to provide sanitary pads for school going girls. These raised eye brows among the populace and Dr. Nyanzi was one of the critics who vowed never to call Janet Museveni the mother of the nation. This provoked Janet Museveni who ordered police to interrogate Dr. Nyanzi for her defamatory speeches. Today, Dr. Stella Nyanzi reported at

The Criminal Investigations Directorate Headquarters in Kibale at 10.00 hours to assist in providing information about her statements which they termed as ‘defamatory and hate speech’. She is wanted for an offensive communication and cyber harassment, which is being investigated under reference number CID HQTRS GEF 122/2017.In itself, Nyanzi was expressing her dissatisfaction about the empty promises of the government. Those are some of the modern times – classic examples of how the freedoms of speech, expression, media and internet have been jeopardized in a superficially ‘Democratic- Neo Liberal’ Uganda.
The country however can promote and observe these inherent rights through strict observance of the law.

Maybe the rains will clean up Bwaise? but at what cost?

The city of Kampala is drained mainly by channels which include Kansanga, Nakivubo, Lubigi, Nalukolongo, Kinawataka, Nyanama-Walufumbe. The Lubigi drainage channel gets its name from a swampy wetland that stretches from Kisasi through Bwaise and goes towards Busega.

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Bwaise is built in the Lubigi wetland which collects running rain water from the nothern and western parts of Kampala city, including drainage from Wakiso district too.

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Building in a wetland is bad, really bad – poor urban planning in a wetland is worse, like bad bad bad, having a poorly managed drainage channel of a capital city go through a wetland with settlements that are poorly planned is outrageous.

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Who is supposed to maintain the channel? who is supposed to clean it? are they waiting for the rains do the job? Rains in Kampala peak twice a year and the first phase (April to May) is just days away. The rains can clean but at a cost that it brings with it floods, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, diarrhea and more dirt to clean up.

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Photo Credits : NinnoJackjr | Camera: LG G4

Why it is important for bloggers to keep themselves safe online

Every month, 10 Ugandan bloggers meet to discuss social justice issues. The 10 bloggers meet to talk about different areas of concern as raised from activities by the various Connect Voices of citizen’s partners in Uganda. The bloggers then write stories that stream into the Social Justice blog.

These bloggers are Ruth Aine, Davidson Ndyabahiika, Edward Nimusiima, Ruth Adong,Ibrahim Batambuze, Ninno Jack Jr, Bernard Ewalu Olupot, Winnie Watera, Arinda Daphine,Robert Agenonga, Shanine Ahimbisibwe, Prudence Nyamishana and Karen Ihimbazwe.

The Bloggers are the forum that was held at the Uganda Museum
The Bloggers are the forum that was held at the Uganda Museum

This Forum values facts and the bloggers blog from an informed point of view. The subjects to look forward to for the month of March are Feminism and feminist struggles in Uganda,understanding power and patriarchy, importance of gender consciousness and Land rights; Internet rights, freedom of expression and online security in the face of dissenting voices.

It is important that bloggers keep themselves safe. Mr Kiggundu Mark, a guest from Defend Defenders led a discussion on online safety and device security. The bloggers had raised concerns on how to stay secure in the face of cracking down on dissenting voices now that they may step on toes. Mark advised anonymity for bloggers who may not want to be recognized for the particular stories that they’ve written.

Mr Kiggundu Mark, a guest from Defend Defenders talks to the bloggers
Mr Kiggundu Mark, a guest from Defend Defenders talks to the bloggers

On how to keep our devices secure to avoid loss of data, it is important to be careful with your device/laptop, to keep it safe and also to be sure to have a complex password; Mark emphasized regular scans and the use of an antivirus that possibly updates every day, installation of anti-malware programs and to update browsers often. He recommended Mozilla Firefox as the safest browser to use.

Mark also warned against using similar passwords for all your accounts, saying that if one accounts gets hacked, it is possible that all your accounts could be accessed; as it is a habit for most people to use similar passwords for all their social media accounts to phone applications, subscriptions, bank accounts with the argument that it is easy to forget passwords when you have too many of them different. He suggested the use of a password manager, an application that can be downloaded from the Google play store to help one in keeping all passwords; he personally uses the Google authentication.

Women, Land and Food Security

The prolonged dry spell that ravaged the country for the past months left almost 10.9million Ugandans food insecure, a joint inter-ministerial statement laid in Parliament on February 14th noted. This number is expected to rise, with 1.58 million needing food relief.

The eminent food scarcity is mainly attributed to the scanty rains that the country has been experiencing and the overdependence of agricultural production on rain. As luck would have it, mid-February offered a glint of hope for many. Unfortunately, the rains came with the force to fell down a 10 foot banana plant, only worsening the problem.

Food security is defined by Food And Agricultural Organization (FAO) 1 as a situation where all people, at all times, have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life. The concept, built on three pillars; availability, access and the use of food, is fairly not characteristic of the current food situation in Uganda as all regions in the country have been devastated, Karamoja sub-region being the worst hit.

The government has, in a bid to mitigate the problem formulated a UGX 8.4 trillion Strategic Policy Action Plan on Food Security to span over a period of four years. Discourse has continued on how the situation can be sustainably challenged, however, what cannot be understated is the effect food insecurity has had on the women of Uganda. Cognizant of the fact that rural women who are overly represented in the chronically poor demographic, are also key players (90%) in the agricultural value chain, from production (tilling the land),preparation and distribution within the household and a wider public.

Extraordinarily, women empowerment has proven to be an achievable, cost-effective and sustainable way for many countries to achieve food security. A cross-country study of developing countries between 1970 and 1995 found that 43% of the reduction of hunger was a result of the progress in women’s education. This was almost as much as the combined effect on hunger reduction as a result of increased food availability (26%) and improvements to the health environment (19%) during the same period. An additional 12% of the reduction of hunger was attributable to increased life expectancy of women.

Women struggle to secure land rights. Photo UN
Women struggle to secure land rights. Photo UN

Therefore, 55% of the gains against hunger in these countries during those 25 years were due to the improvement of women’s situation within society. Despite the important roles women play in ensuring food security, gender inequalities continue to constrain women’s active participation in meaningful and productive agricultural practices. One cannot overemphasize the role land plays in food production and the discrimination women face in the access, distribution and purchase of land for production.

The preconceived idea, that men are defacto or legitimate land owners rooted mainly in our norms and cultures has only worked to reinforce the gender biases and consequent problems women continue to face in that regard. The Daily Monitor 3 ran a story of a lady in Mbale called Gamisa whose only piece of land that also doubles as her garden and only source of income was being grabbed by her brother-in- law. Despite seeking redress from the police, she wasn’t helped and instead was remanded to Malukhu Prison.Gamisa is only a statistic, one of the many women in Uganda who are affected by this kind of discrimination on a daily basis.

The irony of the matter is, Uganda boasts of laws that protect the rights of women. The 1995 Constitution is in itself very comprehensive in this regard and accords both women and men the same rights. In addition, provides that anyone can own property and also prohibits customary laws, traditions and customs that discriminate against women. In the same spirit the Land Act of 1998 and its subsequent amendments; mainly of 2004 and 2010 have provisions on security of occupancy on family land (on which a spouse resides and uses for sustenance) protecting women 7 .

Unstable land tenure right systems in Uganda creates an insecure environment leading to encroachment and depletion of natural resources and unwillingness for long-term farm investments that could support climate adaptation. Photo: K.Raisz ( Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security
Unstable land tenure right systems in Uganda creates an insecure environment leading to encroachment and depletion of natural resources and unwillingness for long-term farm investments that could support climate adaptation. Photo: K.Raisz ( Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security

On the other hand the Succession Act (Amendment) Decree 22/72 of 1972 recognizes the right of women to inherit their husband’s property,although with visible limitations. So with all these laws clearly stipulating protection of women, why then do such injustices like in Gamisa’s case still happen? Research has attributed this to the lack of political will on the part of leaders to fight for non-discriminatory practices and also a mismatch of the laws and customs and norms that uphold Patriarchy.

 

As a consequence of the discrimination for and against women in the access, distribution and purchase of land women will continue to have negative effects to food production. This unavailability also poses a myriad of other challenges like limited access to credit as a result of limited or no collateral or even access to inputs for improved production. All these limitations negatively impact the socio-economic wellbeing of women and the cycle continues pushing many further into abject poverty.

 

Section 4.10, titled “Land Rights of Women and Children” in the 2013 land policy reaffirms the failure of Uganda’s formal law to overcome discriminatory practices concerning women’s land and inheritance. And as earlier mentioned other factors being constant, land and the role of women is pivotal in ensuring food security. It is therefore important that if the government is searching for policy solutions to salvage the situation, the importance of gender differentiated data in the wake of food insecurity is considered to ensure that Gender sensitive remedies are formulated.

 

Community Policing (Mayumba Kumi): Is this something we can trust?

In a wake of murders, it seems no one is really taking charge of who is who in our neighborhoods. Just recently, I was called at 4:00am to go to cover a tragedy that happened Kikoni- Makerere. Apparently, Ren-Ju aged 33years formerly working at Kololo Club Seven as a waitress and Sang-Weng-Wa a 34 year old formerly working at the Chinese Business Hotel on 5th street Bugolobi industrial Area both Chinese nationals were found dead in a residential house in Kikoni Zone C a Kampala suburb.
Locals had become attracted to the scene after a putrid smell started emanating from the house. The inhabitants (who are believed to be two Chinese women) who had joined the house a week earlier had not been seen for several days in the lead up to the discovery of their remains.
The case had been reported to Jinja Road Police and then later handed over to the police flying squad unit to take action. Preliminary investigations by police indicated that Fred Ssembatya a special hire driver who operates from Chez Johnson in Nakulabye suburb had been hired by a Chinese man to pick his guest at Club 7 in Kololo Kampala.
Ssembatya apparently drove one of the waitresses (Chinese national) to the residence in question in Kikoni and later went after his payment. Another female is picked from Bugolobi and brought in the same house. It all turns out later that the Chinese gentleman was on mission to finish the lives of the innocent souls after they were found rotting in the house, 5 days later with rancid smell from the house, with their bodies indicating severe injuries purported to have been stabbed to death.
A police officer engages members of the community on environmental issues. Photo Source: NEMA/Twitter
A police officer engages members of the community on environmental issues. Photo Source: NEMA/Twitter
Police however says they are investigating the Chinese male who had rented the house a week ago who is currently on the run. One of the female tenants allegedly is contacted by this Chinese man who offers her money to first be away from the residential area for some time. The lady (Ugandan) simply doesn’t question and rather leaves not knowing that the residence was to later turn into a slaughter house. The land lady says she only had his contact but never knew his name and or where he came from, what he was doing.
In May 2013, one of my colleagues, (student at Makerere University) was found in his rented house in Kawaala also a Kampala suburb along Hoima Road and was beheaded by an unknown assailants and police promised to investigate, 4 years later, we are yet to receive investigation findings. Apparently, the landlord never had any information about simple basics of who, where his tenant came from and it was through tracing from Makerere that we had to provide the needed particulars of the deceased. All the landlord knew was the gentleman was yet to pay his rent for the recess.
We have seen several murders, of Muslim clerics, including the recent UPDF soldier Maj. Kiggundu. The fateful murder of Joan Kagezi and yet we are about to hear from the investigations team (that is our security).

I have constantly overheard the Inspector General of Police Gen. Kalekyezi Kayihura say there was need to revamp

Inspector General of Police Gen.Kale Kayihura. Photo-Internet
Inspector General of Police Gen.Kale Kayihura. Photo-Internet

the Mayumba Kumi concept (Mayumba Kumi is a swahili concept to mean ten houses that was brought by Dr. Milton Obote after his return from Tanzania. It is a system of administration (more so security system) which would cluster ten houses to ensure people know who is who in a locality. It is usually aimed at improving vigilance, security awareness among other things) but would it really work when everything related to a gathering is susceptible to security clampdown as a political gathering which apparently will threaten the security of the country.

Advanced by many security experts, neighborhoods watch, personal and premise security is very vital in enhancing safety of persons and properties. In Tanzania, the equivalent for neighborhood watch would be the “mayumba kumi”. Under this initiative, 10 closely linked homes are brought together to enhance their security. They know one another, hold meetings and can call upon each other anytime in case of need.
But how will this work with the in existent, weak or corrupt LC system that have failed to even do the basic supervision and monitoring of government programmes, institutions?
From experience, by the time my Village Chairperson seeks a bribe of 10,000 shillings for him to stamp a document for me, yet he can see a UPE school rot away in his reign with at least no minimal supervision then we will continue to suffer and am highly doubtful the Mayumba Kumi concept can operate with such kinds of systems.
In a few years time, the Uganda Police Force launched the community policing strategy (programme) that has been tried and tested in many other countries such as the United States of America, Britain, India, etc. In some countries, they are referred to as “crime stoppers.” Although they go by different names in these countries, crime preventers are universal and so is community policing.
According to police, in Uganda, one of the community policing strategies was to recruit 30 crime preventers per village to aid the police. They are recruited as volunteers and are free to operate private businesses such as in merchandise or farming. These crime preventers operate from their own communities to prevent crimes. They can be young, middle aged or old. Crime prevention has no age limit according to police.
Modeled partly on the Tanzanian concept of Ujamaa Village policy, and other forms of participatory organization worldwide, at its inception, the NRM came with the RC system which emerged as primary units of politicization of rural populace during the NRM guerilla war.
Following the capture of state power, they were institutionalized throughout the country. Their main intention is that they operate as civilian watch dogs over maintenance of security, the observance of law and order, the recruitment of personnel for security forces and to link government to the broad masses of the population. There is a close link between the RC system and the Crime Preventers concept.
Conceptually, there is much to commend the idea of extending participation beyond the Westminster-style mode of that characterized most of earlier Ugandan regimes. However, in the implementation of the idea and in their actual operation the crime preventers system leaves much to be desired.
The most serious problem with the crime prevention model is that it is in the air. There is seemingly no approval from the grassroots. They are not a product of people’s independent creativity. For those who know the structures of Crime preventers, someone once pointed to me that these are structures flocked with opportunists and through them, people are being suppressed.  The major problems within the model which must be addressed last year is the hierarchical structure of the Crime Prevention which lacks any real/ tangible link between the people on ground and the state. I imagine a village where there are only members who least subscribe the current regime does it tolerate other voices apart from crime preventers?
The second problem is extensive powers vested in the crime preventers. How much of the law do they know? What about people’s rights?
To have a fully functional body with full approval of society, we need to ask ourselves the what questions, who are being recruited? Former criminal gangsters, desperate unemployed Ugandans who in a way because they do not receive pay from the police considerably continue to extort money from citizens. My argument here is not to downplay the role of crime preventers in the crime reduction; however there is need to restructure some of them.
This is no wonder that organized crime has increased in the country. Someone grabs your property on the streets of Kampala and or breaks your car window in traffic jam, walks away with your property with nothing to do to them.
The next day, you receive a call from one of these criminals asking for ransom in order for you to receive back your property. Some of the local council leaders especially within Kampala know and or operate with these criminals who eventually report to them.
Some of them even go ahead to cut off people’s car number plates and keep asking for money from a victim. Who should really take charge of security of Ugandans? Just like I mentioned, while we may need the Mayumba-Kumi system for decentralized security how will we handle the Public Order Management Act (POMA) when to assemble alone one needs clearance from security organs?
In case you do not respond to their demands, you will be shocked to find your phone being sold in Cooper Complex, Kisenyi roadside in Kampala. Someone should do something about this strange issue.

How to recover stolen items with the help of the Uganda Police Force

The man returned with a woman dressed in a long floral skirt and a matching blouse. His car was still parked in the same spot it had been when the thieves had vandalized it an hour earlier. The thieves had broken the lock of the Driver’s door using a screwdriver or a similar tool.  The woman stepped back from the car and assumed an awkward posture that slightly bent her knees forward and her upper body backwards; she was taking photos of the keyhole using an outdated-keypad-button phone. There were visible fingerprints on the glass of the Driver’s door and on the upholstery of the car’s interior.

After an elaborate examination of the car that did not involve fingerprint analysis, they walked to the nearby Mobile-Money establishment (a wooden desk under an outdoor Umbrella: both branded with the yellow and red colors of MTN and Airtel). The man suspected the two women seated behind the desk had witnessed the theft because his Pearl White Primeo had been parked adjacent to their establishment and in close proximity: – the door that had been vandalized had been facing them.

The woman in the floral attire did not have to introduce herself because she is a known police officer stationed at a Police Booth within the neighboring area. The two Mobile-Money women had their story straight and it was not going to change. According to them no person had been seen breaking into the car and picking a bag. In fact they had no idea what the contents of the bag were.

“You must have seen the thieves”

“Aaa Aaa aaa, Officer! Munange me I was busy with customers. I didn’t not see any thieves,” said the brown woman who maintained no eye contact and busied herself with a 6-inch touch screen phone while she spoke.

“But the car was parked right there”, the officer pointed at the Primeo. “ You want to say the thief came to the Driver’s door, broke the lock, entered the car, searched it, picked a bag and left and you did not see anything?”

Madamu! Nze Nvako (madam please leave me alone) . Me I do Mobile Money. I am not a security guard. Shiyaaa! Uhmmm!

Kyoka(but) this Woman! You think you can threaten me because you are a Police Officer ?,” as she blubbered parts of her face along the laugh lines and the brow would crease into a spiteful gnarl.

The man was getting irritable, he said that he was parked there for a short while and when the car alarm went off he responded immediately but when he checked inside the car the bag was missing. Everything had happened in less than two minutes- those women had obviously seen the thieves especially since the car alarm had gone “eeeoooeeeooo”.

The women laughed at the man imitating the sound of the alarm. The second woman who had only been making complimentary remarks in Luganda now felt confident to take the floor.

“Olaba officer, wano buli kaseera abbabi bbaba zi side-mirrors naye… she ranted on in her high pitched voice. The man was not conversant with the Luganda language or her high pitched squeal for that matter.

“Arrest them- arrest them officer- they are just refusing to talk”, the man was growing impatient with the drudgery of this so-called interrogation.

The English speaking woman was not happy to hear this. She told the officer- quite rudely- that it was not her [the woman’s] job to stop thieves or report them. She had committed no crime and if the officer wanted to arrest her, she [the officer] should go ahead and do it-quickly.

“Get in the car”, the officer was not happy with the reverence she was receiving especially from the brown woman.

“Eh eh! Uhm. Kyoka officer. Me I have not committed any crime”, said the brown woman in a nonchalant tone.

“I said get in the car”  the officer repeated; this time gripping the brown woman’s hand tightly and dragging her roughly towards the man’s car.The man took his cue from the Officer and engaged the child safety lock immediately the officer had succeeded in pushing the brown woman into the back seats of his Primeo.

If you have been a victim of vehicle vandalism, snatch-and- grab thefts or pick pocketing and you have attempted a recovery of the stolen items by engaging the Uganda Police Force;you are probably a victim of – Police’s insufficient response capabilities, Police’s insufficient presence –  and you have probably witnessed the public’s disdainful attitude towards police investigation.

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In Financial Year 2015/16 Police reported a crime rate reduction from 298 the previous year to 296. In the 365 days that make a year, Police managed to save 2 lucky Ugandans and we now have 296 victims of crime in every 100,000 people.  The improvement is remarkable! It gives me great confidence in the Force especially since the 1:764 – not far from the recommended international standard of 1:500.

Sometimes  after tedious calculations we may watch TV to relax . We may marvel at how foolish some criminals are when they leave a crime scene before rubbing fingerprints off doors or glass-‘you only do that in Uganda’, we may say. But surely we cannot expect Uganda to match the sophistication of Investigative TV Series and so Ugandan Police should be commended for the failure to incorporate fingerprint analysis in the investigations . Perhaps one is not to despair since the National Budget Framework Paper promises that one of the planned actions in financial year 2017/18 includes acquiring state of the art equipment to enhance scientific crime management.

My confidence in the Uganda Police’s abilities to investigate or to secure life and property is hinged to rusty archaic investigative practices.  The sister security agencies (particularly the Directorate of Government Analytical Laboratory and the Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Directorate) that should assist the Police in its role are similarly inadequate forensic tools to investigate crime yet criminals are advancing in technology that helps them evade arrests and prosecution.

In FY 2015/16 Police services were the biggest expenditure under the Justice Law and Order Sector spending over UGX 600Bn but Uganda Police only managed to achieve 57% of its output targets.  This makes me doubt that Police has a resource shortcoming and in fact Police services had the second highest unspent balance of UGX. 10Bn. More and more Ugandans would rather engage private investigators because they do not believe in the integrity and capability of Uganda Police; those who cannot afford such an option choose to let the crime go unreported (lest they spend money transporting the Police to the scene of crime and providing the almost mandatory(kitu kigodo).

My Nation’s Police force may have failed at professionalizing and modernizing their services but I choose not to despair. It may however be too late to tell the Primeo- driving man in the story I narrated to you- not to despair.

The man chauffeured the Police officer and the brown woman to the Police Booth (a metallic container with the words “DONATED BY xxx PAINTS LIMITED” lustrously written on its walls.

Figure 1:Bwaise Police Post depends on community funds to stay functional . This is challenge to enforcing Police impartiality in such communities

The brown woman was friends to the Officer in Charge – it was discovered- and the interrogation that followed was a mere flirtatious exchange. The arresting Officer said it was unlikely the bag and its contents (an iPhone 6 and UGX.7,000,000) would ever be recovered, the case would drag and the man would end up spending even more money pursuing it. She therefore requested for the man’s mobile number- in case anything came up about the case- and some ‘airtime’ for herself and the OC- of course. Forty thousand was offered to the police woman and goodbyes were exchanged.

Since that day; Christmas trees were decorated – fireworks lit up the sky at midnight – valentines passed and roses were exchanged between lovers – but the man has never received the promised phone call.