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    OPINION: Facing The COVID-19 “Education Dilemma” – We Need A Partial Reopening Of Schools, Our Children Will Lose Learning Opportunities And May Drop Out Completely….

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    In order to honour the courage and conviction of the children who were killed in Soweto for protesting the racist educational policies of the apartheid regime, the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) declared 16 June to be commemorated as the Day of the African Child. The day is also significant because it shines a spotlight on the condition of the children of Africa today.

    This year the celebrations will be held under the shadow of the COVID -19 pandemic which has had a devastating effect on African children. More than a quarter of a million African children are out of school waiting anxiously for the governments to reopen schools.

    Africa is rich in natural resources and has massive tracts of arable land. Africa is also rich in wildlife resources and tourist attractions. But Africa is also seriously deficient in educational facilities. The allocation of resources to education is very minimal in African countries. This has severely compromised the quality of education in Africa. A World Bank study estimated that 87 percent of children in Sub-Saharan Africa face poor learning conditions and consequently lack functional skills in today’s ever changing labour market.

    We also need to look at the impact of school closures prompted by COVID-19. The shutdown of schools have had many negative impacts on millions of children of school-going age. Immunization services which children normally access from school have been disrupted, and so have the feeding programs and the distribution of sanitary pads. Schools normally stand in the gap but with the closures, many children are back home where their poor parents cannot offer them some of the services they have been getting from school.

    African governments have put in place various stopgap remote learning measures to ensure that children continue to learn amidst the lockdown but many of the measures are unsuitable. They simply accentuate inequalities in the field of learning. Remote learning require platforms that depend on the ownership of computers or smartphones and access to the internet. But poor rural households have no access to internet and the required remote learning hardware. The Brookings Institution recently reported that while 90 percent of the children in developed countries have adapted to remote learning platforms, in Africa, less than 25 percent have access to remote learning platforms. Even common mediums of communications like radios and television are concentrated in urban areas. The children in rural Africa continue to languish in pathetic learning environments.

    The dilemma facing African governments now is how to reopen schools. In Uganda, the government has issued several contradictory statements. Dates were announced for reopening schools but later retracted. Both the government and the school going children face a dilemma. But that dilemma is unnecessary. Through a combination lockdown, curfew, tracking and testing, sanitization and social distancing, Uganda has effectively contained the corona virus. The corona virus has not overtaken us. Therefore, a partial reopening of schools can be implemented with no risk that our efforts at flattening the curve will be irreversibly undermined.

    In reopening, there’s no one size fits all approach. Every approach should be context specific. Internet based learning platforms can continue but for areas without internet, the schools can facilitate teachers to prepare assignments and readings texts and the children pick up the same periodically while submitting previous assignments. Schools will now become an arena for exchange between students and teachers, rather than a place where they meet face to face. Social distancing rules will have to be enforced to avoid overcrowding.

    The policy decision required here is that “Teaching” should be declared an essential service. In addition, the government, through schools and local governments, can recruit volunteer teachers and license them. With community support, parents will regain their confidence and send their children back to school.

    We need a partial reopening of schools. Unless we facilitate learning amidst the coronavirus pandemic, our children will lose learning opportunities and may drop out completely. The the impact on their future will be irreversible. They will be scarred for life.

     

    By Norbert Mao

    The writer is the President

    Democratic Party

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    NATIONAL

    Bibanja Holders Can Obtain Title Through Adverse Possession – Minister Mayanja…

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    Minister Sam Mayanja

    The mailo system introduced by the 1900 Buganda Agreement was a disaster.

    Land was grabbed from over ninety-nine percent of the population and awarded to less than one percent.

    By stroke of a pen, bibanja holders became slaves in their own Country.  They were dispossessed and forced to provide free labour to the newly created mailo landlords who could evict them for any reason without recourse to any law.

    Bibanja holders lived in a permanent state of trauma.

    Rural unrest and discontent was inevitable and undermined the production of cash crops.

    Leadership was found in bataka (clan heads) who had themselves been dispossessed of their butaka land.

    A violent revolution appeared inevitable. The colonialists moved to stop this eventuality in the bud by enacting the 1927 Busulu and Envujo Law. This law assured bibanja holders security in the occupation of their plots and freed them from the fear of arbitrary eviction.

    This security of tenure was however brought to an end by the 1975 Land Reform Decree. Bibanja holders were rendered tenants at sufferance. Their lot was back to the pre-1928 Busulu and Envujo Law.

    The coming into power of the NRM sought to restore security of tenure to Bibanja holders through the 1995 Constitution and the Land Act Cap 227 as amended in 2004 and 2010.

    The Constitution under Article 237 (8) granted security of occupancy to bibanja holders. His Excellency the President, exercising his powers under Article 99 (1) (2) and (3) of the Constitution has issued two directives operationalizing bibanja security of occupancy.

    Article 237 (9) (b) of the constitution required that within two years after the first sitting of Parliament elected under the 1995 Constitution, that Parliament would enact a law……., “(b) Providing for the acquisition of registrable interest in the land by the occupant (bibanja holder)”.

    The occupants being the ones idefined in Article 237 (8), i.e. the lawful of bone fide occupants of mailo land, freehold or leasehold. The law which Parliament was obliged to enact would have provided for mechanisms, procedures, processes and whereby a Kibanja holder would acquire a registrable freehold interest tenure on the land he occupied.

    Unfortunately, the Land Law that was enacted i.e. the Land Act of 1998 was mainly directed towards enhancing bibanja’s security of occupancy.

    The mailo landlord continues to hold the land in perpetuity and is still allowed to evict the kibanja holder under certain circumstances.

    In view of the fact that the Land Act is not the one envisaged under Article 237 (9) (b) of the constitution and therefore did not provide for a registrable tenancy interest of a Kibanja occupant in perpetuity, the kibanja holder has to look elsewhere in the law to obtain security of tenure as opposed to security of occupancy.

    Case law has provided that shelter in the doctrine of adverse possession. A person who get into possession of land without consent of the registered owner and the registered owner does not enforce his right of possession, for a period of twelve years, the law confers a title on the adverse possessor. The owner’s remedy and indefeasibility of title under Section 59 and 176(2) is thus extinguished and defeated under adverse possession.

    A person who claims that he has acquired a title by adverse possession may apply under section 78 to 91 of the Registration of Titles Act, for an order vesting the land in him for an estate in fee simple i.e. mailo or freehold.

    The limitation Act section 5 read together with section 16 means that an owner cannot bring an action to recover land after 12 years and therefore a person who has been possession of land for 12 years undisturbed by the landlord that person in possession becomes the owner, and is entitled to a title by possession. Decided cases of courts of judicature with binding force of law have confirmed this position.

    Bonafide occupants, i.e. bibanja holders are adverse possessors who can apply to obtain title to the land they occupy under section 78 to 91 of the Registration of Titles Act. The provisions of Section 29 of the Land Act, defines a bonafide occupant as one who entered the land without the consent of the owner and was occupying that land for 12 years before the coming into force of the Constitution. This section when read together with Sections 5, 11, 16 and 29 of the Limitation Act, shows that whoever qualifies as a bonafide occupant, also qualifies as an adverse possessor. The tenure entitlement of the land owner of that area under possession of the kibanja holder is extinguished by the uninterrupted use of that land by the kibanja holder for 12 years.

    While the nation awaits Parliaments enactment, the bibanja holders who have been in possession for more than 12 years uninterrupted by the registered proprietor can apply to the Registrar to have the land over the area they occupy vested in them as adverse possessor and own that land in perpetuity through freehold registrable interest.

     

    Dr. Sam Mayanja

    Minister of state for Lands

    smayanja@kaa.co.ug

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    OPINION: Why Media Council Can’t Punish The Observer Over Un Registered Journalists…

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    The writer Emmanuel Kirunda (L) and Media Council boss Paul Ekochu (R)

    Scriptures say in Proverbs 28:1 in the Bible that, “the wicked flees when there is no one pursuing them,” this won’t be the case with the Uganda Media Council team that has already mooted a plan to hound the Observer newspaper journalists under disguise of caring to find answers to their alleged breach of journalistic ethics in reference to its regulatory duty, as it cannot go unchallenged.

    In his letter to the Observer Newspaper Editor dated May 8, 2024 under which he summons them to appear before the Council’s disciplinary committee on Monday, 20th May 2024 under section 9 of Press and Journalist Act cap 105, over their May 8, 2024 news article of vol.19 issue 017, titled; ‘MPS Bribed to Save Government Agencies’ that is said to have derogated the sanctity and integrity of parliament, the Council’s chairperson Mr. Paul Ekochu also put the Newspaper administration on notice for failing to register the particulars of its Editor contrary to section 5 of the same Act, saying it is a criminal offense.

    While the Council is charged with the duty of registering journalists and or enforcing penalties in the wake of any un compliance case, it cannot legally exercise the same in its current form, following the violation of requirements under the same legal instrument from onset by the ICT Ministry that performs the supervisory role over the Council and other bodies therein.

    As part of its mandate, the ICT Ministry should be doing a lot in ensuring the better welfare standards of journalists by prevailing over the errant employers who time and again occasion exploitation, but sadly focuses a lot on accusing the practitioners of falling short of ethical standards whose viability spines around the welfare unanswered question, a corner stone to independent journalism.

    Suffice to note is that, although the draconian Act was enacted in bad faith with an intention of annihilating the Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) that had already been around in the space since 1963 managing the journalistic landscape when it was put in place in 1995, this never succeeded as it was rejected by journalists given its anomalies, and it only now remains on books but can’t practically, legally, journalistically and logically be enforced.

    And time has come for the officials in the ministry to accept the sectoral reality.

    Media Council Wrong to Register Journalists.

    As of now the Uganda Media Council cannot sanction the Observer Editor over failure to have registered their particulars or any other journalist, and if this happened, it is illegal according to the High Court’s ruling that was given in January 14, 2021 petition filed by Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) and journalists under the Editors Guild against the Attorney General for Media Council.

    Filing of this petition was prompted by December 20th 2020, then the Deputy Inspector General of Police Maj. Gen. Paul Lokech’s public statement that the Police would block journalists without the Media Council Press cards from covering the 2021 general elections, in reference to the flawed Media Council guidelines for the 2021 general elections.

    Court declared that the registration of journalists by the Media Council of Uganda without an operational National Institute of Journalists of Uganda (NIJU) to enroll journalists in accordance with the Press and Journalist Act is illegal, irrational and procedurally irregular.

    Like Media Council, NIJU, as a creator of the bad law (Press and Journalist Act of 1995), has been at its death point from onset.

    The Councils’ purported guidelines had earlier been strongly protested by the UJA and other journalist organizations, noting that their intention was to curtail the enjoyment of press freedom ahead of the elections.

    The trial judge Esther Nambayo stressed that without the functioning of the NIJU, the Media Council would be acting outside its mandate to register and issue practicing certificates to journalists in Uganda.

    Court also issued an order of permanent injunction restraining the implementation of the illegal and irrational directives of the Media Council.

    Now one wonders how the Observer newspaper will be subjected to penalties by the same Council in moribundity of the would-be journalists’ registration authority!

    Would one therefore, be wrong if they describe as contempt of Court the Council’s decision with regard to the Observer journalists’ fate?

    Would it be wrong for journalists to believe that the Council’s intervention during this time is an attempt to gag critical journalism that helps with pointing to the ills in the society that should instead be addressed by the relevant authorities?

     

    “The Pen is Mightier Than the Gun”.

    This article was written By Emmanuel Kirunda, Journalist and Secretary General, Uganda Journalists Association (UJA).

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    OPINION: Bobi Wine’s NUP At Crossroads As Internal Strife & Looming Split Paves Way For Gen. Museveni To Reclaim Buganda…

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    NUP boss Bobi Wine. Inset is President Museveni. On the left is the writer George Mubiru

    Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu’s personal pursuit of excellence may have inadvertently fueled National Unity Platform (NUP) vanity, creating internal tension.

    The “fearfully high standard” alludes to the challenging expectations one imposes on oneself, potentially resulting in moments of self-loathing when those standards aren’t met. It explores the complex relationship between personal aspirations, the emotional toll they can take and NUP’s aspirations as an institution.

    The young party has no chance of resurrection. Tireless efforts of displacing Hon. Mpuuga has completely buried it with least chances of remaining the chief opposition party ( something Bobi Wine feels comfortable to settle down for) come 2026.

    The storm has erupted through out Buganda and angered the staunch Buganda traditionalists and elite politicians whose mirror is Mpuuga. Bobi wine has  created a small group within NUP that believe in kleptocracy, an egocentric virtue which can not mirror out political, social and economic inclusiveness of all Ugandans.

    Bobi Wine and his small group in NUP that seems to feel satisfied with polluting the masses and hoodwink them in order to exploit, impoverish, repress and lie to make money. This is exhibited in his previous calls on the public to riot and reckless utterances of politics of identity to gain sympathy. He has on several occasions attempted to slash social and economic programs extended to the wanainch from western countries and the global economy. They worship Money and opposition power supremacy.

    When more than three thirds of the current NUP Members of Parliament continue to fume over Bobi wine’s poor administration of the party, it has opened the eyes of majority ugandans that the cardinal intention of NUP is not removing Gen. Museveni from power, but to make money.

    There is continuous accusations and counter accusations with in the party at a prime time NRM is reorganizing itself through structures to massively win the forthcoming polls. For example, Hon Abed Bwanika has on several occasions castigated NUP’s secretary general for calendistinely working for NRM and called upon him to resign. He has also accused NUP top leadership for placing homosexuality on its high agenda, something which is morally unacceptable to Uganda’s customs and culture.

    The internal strife has further been worsened by another persistent battle for the true ownership of the party between Bobi Wine and the Kibalama group. This has recently failed the approval of pro Bobi Wine’s new NUP constitution by the electoral commission.

    Various NUP MPs, have on several occasions come out to condemn their party of extortion and continuous money demands. They have expressed regret of landing into the wrong hands of the NUP leader. Others have fallen out with their party on refusal to implement dirty missions which could lead the country and wanainch into turmoil as revealed by hanji katerega when he recently appeared for an interview.

    What is the implication of the  Mpuuga-Bobi Wine-Kibalama fight?

    1. The young party has split into two groups and this division has left Bobi Wine and his group with out the capacity to bridge it. It should be remembered that the same happened to Busoga, the only sub region Bobi Wine won outside Buganda and currently there and two parallel groups; one led by Moses Bigirwa and another by Andrew Kaluya.
    2. NUP has lost its only remaining strong hold of Buganda. Hon Mpuuga is seen as the leading politician in greater Masaka and therefore perceive the allegations against him as witch hunt by Bobi Wine.
    3. A looming political party or pressure group by the elite politicians and majority NUP members of parliament is on the cards. This will be the last straw in the back of NUP. Some people especially the youth, well knowing that NUP cannot cause the change they desire, will definitely follow the new anticipated wave.
    4. President Museveni and the NRM will gain back it’s support from Buganda because of consistence and good will to the country. People would rather revert to NRM for stability. I prophesize victory for Gen. Museveni and the NRM in Buganda come 2026.

    Gen. Museveni is like a cliff. He can’t betray the mission he accepted from the people of Uganda as a revolutionist and freedom fighter. He stands firm and tames the fury of the water around him and strikes with a win.

    He once said; “All those in NUP are my children. You will see. I’m in there, everywhere and work with my children. Kyagulanyi’s group, I will finish it. You just wait. I work from underground as you’re up there shouting oye! Oye! Oye!”

     

    The writer, George Mubiru, is a researcher, political analyst & Ass. RCC JINJA City.

    Tel. 0754877595

    Email: georgemubiru93@gmail.com

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