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    OPINION: Removal Of Lockdown Will Depend On Public Discipline – Minister For The Presidency

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    Minister for the Presidency Milly Babirye Babalanda

    On Friday, June 18, 2021, President Yoweri Museveni addressed the nation as the Coronavirus/Covid-19 situation escalated. At the time, the country had recorded an upsurge in numbers of infections and deaths in unprecedented figures. To stem the tide, the President strengthened measures against the tide of the disease. Key among the measures was reinstatement of lockdown countrywide, pushing forward curfew hours and banning cross district travel.

    The lockdown imposed was to last 42 days and came into force on June 20. This second lockdown after the one of last year was in response to a The second wave of the disease was a result of many factors among which was reduction in vigilance of the public in observing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Had this new lockdown not been instituted, I believe that the situation would be too bad. The second wave has taken many of our people (may their souls rest in eternal peace) and saw a huge number admitted. Those still in hospital, it is my prayer that you make it out.

    Covid-19 is not a death sentence!
    The 42 days of the current lockdown are elapsing in a few days and the president will be addressing the country to update the public on the situation as it stands. He will spell out “what next” and this could involve extending the lockdown, scaling it down, relaxing the measures or tightening them. It all depends on the informed reports he has on his table and the advice of scientists. Any mistake made at this time could take us back to the pre-June 18 situation.

    Yet people are hard pressed with life’s demands; they are out of work, yet in need of food, rent, medical care and they have taken a hit from the pandemic in all ways imaginable. Everybody is asking “when is this whole thing coming to end?” I am sure everyone wants the lockdown to be lifted. I am certain that the President wants normalcy restored, yet he wants everybody safe. We have already witnessed how the situation has improved, and how this validates the wisdom in the President’s
    interventions which, despite the great inconvenience to persons and government, have not been in vain.

    Last year at the height of the political season when some groups of people were dismissing the threat of Covid-19 and actively urging the public to defy safety guidelines, the President said what we were dealing with was not a matter of convenience but survival. That wisdom still stands, and even more apparent since the disease has visited almost every community and people can no longer deny its nearness. For that matter, if it requires suffering a little more inconvenience to our normal ways of life for the sake of surviving to enjoy life tomorrow, let us all do our part to keep Covid-19 at
    bay.

    Vaccination is going and government is committing ample resources to ensure that a reasonable number of people are vaccinated since this reduces incidences of acquiring the virus, suffering and dying from it and spreading it to others. We shall receive proper updates on the vaccination drive.

    For now, I wish to advise that from my take on these things, the decision to remove or relax lockdown and other measures will depend on public behavior in these last days as the 42 day period comes to an end.
    People have been very disciplined; they have been observing SOPs, curfew times, avoiding unnecessary travel and socialising. They have been avoiding public transport, save for some few cases of violators but who have been brought to book as an example. If this discipline and vigilance is upheld, I would have no doubt that normalcy would be possible and the President would eagerly announce that.

    However, I have started seeing people openly violating the SOPs, boda boda and private vehicles are ferrying passengers. As we get closer to the end of the current lockdown, mistakes are beginning to be made and that could see a new one imposed, which would be hard on us.
    From the start of the pandemic until this point, Uganda has performed relatively well against the disease on account of excellent guidance from the top leadership, commitment of medical teams, enforcement of regulations by security teams and compliance by the general public with the safety directives. Without a clear end in sight, we need to maintain this “wall” at all times until we see the last of the disease or learn to live with it as it is said in sections of the scientific community.

    In other countries, lockdown has been lifted and instituted as and when the situation warrants. The problem is that as soon countries open up, people lose their sense of caution, infections skyrocket and lockdown is put back in place.
    People want houses of worship reopened, schools and institutions of learning reopened (so that teachers and non-teaching staff resume their jobs and learners progress academically); public transporters want to be back in business, government and businesses want their workforces back on duty but that without strict adherence to SOPs and other measures, chances of a new lockdown being introduced are very high.
    The bottom line is that each of us must be responsible for our individual and collective safety if normalcy is to be restored. For now, I can’t read the President’s mind.

     

    By Milly Babirye Babalanda
    The author is the Minister for the Presidency

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    CRIME

    Inside Deputy Speaker Among, Ministers Otafiire, Muhwezi Meeting Over MPs Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana Bail Conditions…

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    Lawyer to embattled Kawempe North and Makindye West legislators have spoken out on the meeting between the Deputy Speaker of parliament Anita Among, Security Minister Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi and senior Internal Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafiire concerning their continued stay in prison despite being granted bail by court.

    Credible sources in parliament intimated to theGrapevine that last week, there was a secret meeting summoned by Among to negotiate a deal to have the two embattled legislators released on bail.

    Sources that attended the meeting added that the opposition leadership ran to Among for help after parliament Speaker Jacob Oulanyah dismissed their prayer for parliament to intervene and save the legislators.

    Last week, Oulanyah told Members of Parliament that parliament was not ready to intervene into Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana troubles.

    The speaker only promised to go and visit these MPs in Kigo prison.

    The speaker also asked parliament to leave the security agencies to investigate the alleged offences slapped on these legislators for the interest of justice and fairness.

    However, sources in parliament held that opposition leaders in parliament were not happy with Oulanyah’s decision and decided to run his deputy who is a very good friend to both legislators, especially Ssegirinya.

    The source said that before meeting both ministers, Among first talked to president Museveni about the issue. The president referred him to Muhwezi and Otafiire since they were the ones closely handling the issue of greater Masaka murders.

    The source further told theGrapevine that Among tried to convince the ministers on the positives in releasing the legislators on bail including creating a good relationship with the opposition especially the radical National Unity Platform (NUP).

    She further told the ministers that releasing legislators on bail does not mean that they will dodge prosecution since they will be coming from their homes.

    However, the source disclosed that both Otafiire and Muhwezi disagreed with Among’s explanation.

    They told her that the Masaka murders put government in bad light given that they caused a lot of insecurity yet Ugandans want peace.

    Gen. Muhwezi told Among that security agencies especially UPDF is very serious in fighting the ongoing criminality in the country especially after these criminals targeted Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, their very own and killed his daughter Brendah Nantongo Katumba and driver Sgt. Haruna Kayondo.

    He further told her that if these legislators are released, it will weaken the morale of the security operatives investigating these murders.

    The source added that Gen. Otafiire even wondered why the speaker did not plead to have all the suspects in this matter granted bail and instead concentrated on only the two legislators.

    The matter was not resolved and a decision was taken to refer it to the president for a final decision.

    On Wednesday, president Museveni blasted judges for granting bail to murder suspects and promised to meet with NRM Members of Parliament to resolve the matter even if it will need a referendum.

    When contacted, Abubaker Ssekanjako, one of the lawyers representing Ssewanyana and Ssegirinya neither confirmed nor denied knowledge of any meeting between opposition leadership in parliament seeking assistance from the deputy speaker of parliament.

    “I don’t know whether any of our members went to the speaker for assistance. What I know, a number of plans were made to save our brothers but we decided to concentrate on legal matters and that’s why we applied for bail which was successfully granted,” Ssekanjako said.

    He added that they have fulfilled all the requirements put in place by Masaka High Court Judge Victoria Nakintu Nkwanga to make sure that their people are granted bail, including paying a cash bail of Shs. 20m and depositing the passports of the accused at the High Court Crimes Division Kampala.

    On Monday both legislators were granted bail but up to Friday evening they were not released from prison as directed by the Judge.

    They are battling with murder, attempted murder, terrorism and abetting terrorism charges.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    NEWS

    NUP Speaks Out On Bobi Wine’s ‘Fraudulent’ Academic Papers…

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    Bobi Wine (L) with lawyer Male Mabirizi (R)

    National Unity Platform Party (NUP) has spoken out on the fraudulent academic papers of their president Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine.

    Earlier this week, Law Development Centre grade one magistrate Augustine Alule issued summons directing Kyagulanyi to appear in Court on 7th of October 2021 and answer charges against him.

    Controversial city lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi opened up a private criminal prosecution against Kyagulanyi over his academic papers.

    In his case, Mabirizi accuses Bobi Wine of fraudulently being admitted to Makerere university on government mature entry in October 2000 when he was not qualified.

    The maverick lawyer insisted that by the time Kyagulanyi  was admitted to study a Diploma in Music, Dance and Drama at Makerere University, he was 20 years old yet the requirement for somebody to qualify for mature entry is 25 years and above.

    Mabirizi based on the evidence of Alfred Namaoh Masikye the academic registrar Makerere University who gave him certified copies which he tendered in to Court as evidence.

    The admission form which Mabirizi filed in Court indicates that Bobi Wine was born on 12th of February 1980 and studied from Kololo Senior Secondary School, Kitante Hill School and was admitted to the University when he was 20 years old.

    This is not the first time Mabirizi is challenging Kyagulanyi’s academic papers, in 2020, he filed private criminal prosecution charges against him at Buganda Road Court, Wakiso Chief Magistrate Court and all the files were taken by the Directorate of Public Prosecution but up to now the case has not yet kicked off.

    However, when contacted, Geofrey Turyamusiima one of Bobi Wine’s lawyers said that his client has not yet been served with Court summons.

    He also boasted that Mabirizi was wasting his time because Bobi Wine was travelling to America.

    But on Wednesday evening, Bobi Wine was blocked from entering US and was deported back to Uganda.

    Bobi Wine explained that his deportation was related to the new COVID-19 restriction in the US.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    CRIME

    Who Are You Trying To Please? M7 Blasts Judges For Granting Bail To Murders, Ssegirinya, Ssewanyana Still Detained Even After Being Granted Bail….

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    Ssegirinya Muhammad and Allan Sewanyana in Masaka court recently over Masaka region murders

    President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has tasked the judiciary to explain to the nation the person they are trying to please by granting bail to murder suspects.

    The president said this while presiding over the swearing-in ceremony of the six new judges and Justices of the Court of Appeal, Justice Christopher Gashirabaki and Judges of the High Court include Justice Tom Chemutai, Justice Lawrence Tweyanze, Justice Vincent Wagona, Justice Alice Komuhangi and Justice Florence Nakachwa wife to Chief Justice Owiny Dollo.

    At the same ceremony, the newly appointed Inspector General of Government (IGG) Betty Kamya and her Deputies Dr. Patricia Okiria Achan and Ann Twinomugisha Muhairwe also took their oath.

    Museveni protested the continued granting of bail to murderers in the presence of the deputy chief justice Richard Butera.

    ” For somebody to kill a person and you give them bail is provocation. It is abominable. This bail, what is the hurry? Who are you trying to please? Who said bail is a right? It is not in the Constitution. We are going to work on this,” a furious Museveni said.

    He added that in the few weeks to come, he is going to summon his NRM party Members of Parliament to a meeting to discuss the bail matter.

    Museveni insisted that even if it needs a referendum, he is ready for it because he is tired of the judiciary granting bails to murderers.

    Museveni made the statements after two National Unity Platform (NUP) Members of Parliament Ssegirinya Muhammad and Allan Sewanyana were still detained at Kigo prison even though they were granted bail by Masaka High Court Judge Victoria Nakintu Nkwanga on Monday.

    Both legislators were charged with offences of murder, attempted murder, terrorism and abetting to terrorism.

    State alleges that the legislators together with others still at large have a hand in the recent deadly murders in Masaka.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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