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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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    CELEBRITY GOSSIP

    Buganda Caucus MPs Blocked From Visiting Kabaka Mutebi In Namibia As Mayiga Summons Clan Heads Over M7 Deals, King Visit…

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    Buganda Kingdom King Ronald Muwenda Mutebi (L) in Namibia

    The management of Okonguarri Psychotherapeutic Center in Namibia has blocked three Members of Parliament from accessing the Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi.

    Buganda Premier Charles Peter Mayiga confirmed that Kabaka Mutebi is in Namibia resting following the advice of his doctor in Europe.

    However, there are ongoing allegation that Kabaka is in the said medical facility receiving medication not resting.

    Based on the ongoing contradiction, legislators who are members of the Buganda caucus in parliament secretly decided to travel to Namibia to confirm the development.

    theGrapevine has exclusively established that the three male legislators are members of the National Unity Platform and they sneaked into Namibia without the knowledge of the Ugandan embassy in Namibia or their chairperson Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi.

    When contacted, one of the legislators confirmed the development but pleaded with theGrapevine not to reveal his identity because it was going to create a war with Buganda Kingdom leadership.

    “It is true we were blocked from accessing the Kabaka and we are the ones who advised the Buganda Kingdom clan heads who also plan on visitinf the Kabaka to first seek permission from Mayiga, Prince David Kintu Wasajja or Agness Nabalogo because they are the ones to give permission to any person who wants to access Kabaka,” a soft spoken legislator from greater Masaka said.

    He added that they tried to reach out to Prince Joseph Ndawula, the Ugandan ambassador to Namibia but he also didn’t help them, so they decided to return back to Uganda.

    The development comes at a time when Mayiga has just issued summons to the executive members of Buganda Kingdom clan heads council.

    According to highly placed sources in the clan council, the meeting is scheduled to take place on Tuesday next week at Bulange building the headquarters of Buganda Kingdom.

    Even though Mayiga didn’t give the reasons why he has summoned the clan council leadership, sources claim that top on the agenda is their planned visit to Namibia to visit Kabaka and last week’s State House meeting with president Museveni.

    “When we passed a resolution in our meeting to go to Namibia to visit Kabaka, our council speaker (omutaka Austine Kizito Mutumba) pleaded with us to reverse the resolution explaining that it was going to place him in bad light before Mayiga and it is going to deepen the misunderstanding between him and his administration, but we rubbished his prayers,” a clan head said.

    He boasted that at this time, Mayiga has nothing to do because President Museveni has given them the green light and promised to coordinate the visit.

    He revealed that there are only two people who haven’t yet finalized their travel documents because they did not have passports.

    “By Thursday morning, we will be on the plane going to check on our beloved chairperson (Kabaka). Who is Mayiga to stop us from visiting Kabaka, even the president told us that he doesn’t like him and his ministers, and in Buganda kingdom, he only recognizes Kabaka, us the abataka and even informed the Nnabagereka when he met her recently,” a clan head said.

    It is not clear what mechanism Mayiga and Mutumba are going to deploy to stop clan heads from visiting Kabaka because they have been trying to frustrate them from meeting President Museveni but they overrun them.

    In the last Buganda Kingdom parliamentary session, Mayiga declined to allow the prayer made by one of the representative Professor Badru Katerega who wanted the Kingdom administration to guide those with money so that they can be allowed to go and visit Kabaka.

    Mutumba told theGrapevine that he is just a speaker of the council of Buganda Kingdom clan heads and has no power to stop them from doing whatever they think is good for their clans and Buganda Kingdom at large.

    He confirmed that he was not informed of last week’s State House meeting and he was very happy with the results of the meeting because the President agreed to help the kingdom clan heads to fight poverty among themselves and their grandchildren.

    President Museveni also promised to deploy UPDF engineering experts to help in the building of a commercial building on the land he bought for them in 2023 which is situated opposite the Bulange building.

    The president also promised to deposit Shs200m in the bataka Mutindo SACCO which they can use to fight poverty.

    However, when clan heads visited Museveni in 2023, Mayiga declared that he will not accept any person to mislead any member of the Kingdom organs with the aim of dividing Kabaka’s subjects.

    A resolution was passed in Buganda Kingdom parliament condemning the clan heads’ visit to Museveni and they were advised to apologize which they declined to do arguing that Mayiga and the Kingdom parliament don’t have such powers.

    The Clan heads insist that they are an independent organ in Buganda kingdom culture and they are the ones responsible for electing the Kabaka, thus they cannot be forced by Mayiga and his people to apologize.

    A committee chaired by Kingdom lands minister and also city commercial lawyer David Kisitu Mpanga was established by Mayiga to mediate talks between him with clan heads.

    However Isreal Kitooke Kazibwe the Kingdom spokesperson and also the minister in charge of mobilization rubbished the narrative of clan heads being independent explaining that all leadership in Buganda Kingdom are under Kabaka Mutebi and there is not independence.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    NATIONAL

    How Boyfriend, Pressure For Wedding Money Forced MP Nanyondo To Withdraw Her Signature From Censure Motion Against Mpuuga And Company…

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    Bukomansimbi woman legislator Veronica Nanyondo

    Kira Municipality legislator Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda has explained that the actions of Bukomansimbi woman legislator Veronica Nanyondo to withdraw in writing her signature from the censure motion against the four parliamentary commissioners over corruption allegations was showed that legislators don’t read.

    He revealed that the reason why he always overshadows fellow legislators on the floor of parliament and even during media talk shows is because they don’t read but just sign documents, especially when they are told that they will get allowances after signing.

    “How can a member of parliament withdraw her signature claiming that you were misled to sign, now how can you convince your voters that you are not misled to take decisions that affect them!” Ssemujju wondered.

    In her defense, Nanyondo said that the movers of the motion to impeach the commissioners used her signature from the opposition cabinet meeting and put it on the censure motion papers.

    Ssemujju noted that once a legislator appends their signature on a censure paper, he or she cannot withdraw it and Nanyondo is still taken as one of the legislators who signed the censure motion against the legislators.

    However, theGrapevine established that Nanyondo was forced by her boyfriend to withdraw the signature.

    Sources claim that Nyanyondo’s boyfriend, a one Kateregga who was a councilor for Bukomansimbi district, pleaded with Nanyondo to withdraw her signature because Mpuuga is one of their own and it will shame them to betray him.

    He alleges that Nyanyondo and her boyfriend are set to legalize their marriage in church before the end of this year and Mpuuga has already contributed Shs20m to help in the preparations of their wedding.

    Others who contributed include Annet Anita Among the speaker of parliament who contributed Shs10m.

    Sources divulged that Kateregga nowadays spendsmuch of his time in the United States of America because the couple plans on relocating to the US once this political term ends and after they legalize their marriage.

    Sources added that Nanyondo is not going to defend her position in the coming 2026 elections after realizing that the ground no longer favors her.

    Before joining politics, Nanyondo and Kateregga were running a printing business on Nasser Road in Kampala city.

    When Nanyondo contested for the first time as MP to replace her sister Suzan Namaganda, the former wife to former East African Assembly Uganda representative Fred Mukasa Mbidde, Kateregga was in charge of pinning her posters.

    theGrapevine made several phone calls to Nanyondo’s known phone numbers for a comment on the story but they all went unanswered.

    Nanyondo is among the poor performing legislators in Buganda.

    The four commissioners who in trouble are; Mathias Mpuuga the Member of Parliament for Nyendo-Mukungwe, Prossy Mbabazi Akampulira the Rubanda district legislator, Solomon Silwanyi the Bukooli Central legislator and Esther Afayochan of Zombo district woman legislator.

     

    By Hadijjah Namagembe

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    CRIME

    Stanbic Bank In Trouble, Client Petitions Court After She Was Defrauded Of Shs68m Via Flexi Pay…

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    Stanbic Bank CEO Anne Jjuuko whose bank is under fire

    Nakku Joweria a resident of Kyebando has sued Stanbic Bank Uganda limited for failing in its duty of protecting her saving account leading to defrauding her of shillings 68 million which was withdrawn from her account in a period of 24 hours through Flexi pay an application she had never registered for.

    In a court case filed before the Commercial division of the High Court of Uganda and coming up for directions in the registrar Christa Namutebi’s chambers, on the 24th June, 2024 at 9:40am, Nakku Joweria through his lawyers of Kimanje Nsibambi Advocates contends that between 7th and 8th February, 2023, there was unauthorized withdrawal of 68 million shillings from her savings account No. 903000026244 via the Flexi Pay Banking, a platform of Stanbic Bank and a total of 28 unauthorized transactions were conducted by fraudsters who fraudulently accessed her account undetected by the bank.

    She questions how a savings account which had a transaction limit was significantly exceeded during the unauthorized and undetected fraudulent transactions which led to her losing her’ money.

    “Our client has been a loyal client of Stanbic bank since 2001 way before the implementation of the FlexiPay system and at no point did she sign up for or activate the flexi pay on her savings account. The 28 unauthorized withdrawals from our clients account using four unknown Airtel lines raises serious questions and/ or lapses on the part of the bank for which we hold the bank specifically liable for the loss since it was in a better position to detect and prevent this fraud had it exercised reasonable care to detect these suspicious 28 unauthorized transactions that took place within 24 hours on a savings account that was rarely operated by our client,” reads the documents in parts.

    She also questions the effectiveness of the bank’s authentication protocols with their flexi pay system, effectiveness of the transaction monitoring to the extent of allowing 28 unauthorized transactions within 24 hours using four unknown Airtel lines and significantly exceeding the account limit.

    Nakku wants court to direct Stanbic Bank to reimburse 68 million to her account that was fraudulently withdrawn and pay her the costs and damages.

    On 6th February 2023, Nakku Joweria lost her phones to the robbers on her way to work at around 9pm. She reported the incident to police at 9am and to the telecom companies on the 7th February 2023.

    However, the telecom companies MTN and Airtel couldn’t process the new simcards because she had misplaced her original National Identity card.

    The robbers used her MTN number to open up a wallet on the Flexi pay which number had four other Airtel numbers that don’t belong to her which they used to make 28 unauthorized withdraws of 68 million shillings from her Stanbic bank saving account on the 7th and 8th February in a space of only 24 hours.

    When she went to withdraw some money from her account on the 6th, March 2023 that’s when she realized that her money was fraudulently withdrawn from her account.

    She wrote to the bank manager complaining about the matter and the bank promised to do thorough investigations to reveal how the money was withdrawn by the fraudsters.

    Through her lawyers of Kimanje Nsibambi Advocates, she wrote a demand notice to Stanbic Bank manager to reimburse her money since it was their weakness and fault for failure to efficiently protect her account.

    The bank through Twine Arnold, the senior legal advisor, Risk and Dispute Management wrote back with an out of court settlement request.

    However, the bank had proposed to reimburse only 34 million out of the 68 million on the premise that the settlement shall not be taken as admission of liability by any of the parties, a proposal she rejected and instead thought for legal redress in the commercial court.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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