How Uganda’s Criminal Defamation Laws Deter Investigative Journalism


Story-Based Inquiry, an investigative journalism handbook published by UNESCO, defines investigative journalism as the kind of journalism that involves exposing to the public matters that are concealed–either deliberately by someone in a position of power, or accidentally, behind a chaotic mass of facts and circumstances that obscure understanding. It requires using both secret and open sources and documents.”


Relatedly, the Dutch-Flemish investigative journalism group VVOJ defines investigative reporting simply as “critical and in-depth journalism.” But to do serious and critical journalism in Uganda is still not a free zone for journalists based on the developments that we have seen in the recent past.


The situation has made some journalists withdraw their passion from the sensitive stories for fear of being apprehended. Majority of them have actually resorted to reporting only press conference stories but this denies chance and right to citizens to know what is happening in their governments. Actually some journalists have been put on the red list not to cover certain state functions, which is really absurd.


PEN International Uganda, a local not for profit Organisation but England based charity Organisation that promotes literature and freedom of expression has called on government to repeal laws criminalizing defamation on grounds that the law continues facilitating official secrecy and undermining accountability.

Pansy Tlakula, the chairperson of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights  and Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information says the laws are incompatible with the African Charter on Human and People’s rights and that they should be repealed.

“Criminal defamation and insult laws are nearly always used to punish legitimate criticism of powerful people, rather than to protect the right to a reputation,” Tlakula says.

The 2017 report titled; “Stifling Dissent, Impeding Accountability: Criminal Defamation Laws in Africa” shows how the cost of these laws is significant and how they stifle independent comment and political debate denying the public the right to know about stories of national importance and deter investigative journalism.

Hilda Twongyeirwe, the Executive Director FEMRITE – Uganda Women Writers’ Association urges Ugandan Writers and Journalists to join hands to form a Uganda Writers Union that would be charged with collective protection of their rights. She says the report is very important for practitioners to begin the debate on how to influence laws in Uganda.


Ms.Twongyeirwe states that; “These things have been happening. The report is unearthing what has been happening. So now that we have information, that the individual stories are no longer individual stories, I think that is a trigger that should get all of us on our toes and act, yes everybody wants to be safe, we have families, friends and relatives but at the same time, it becomes so disempowering when somebody dries to silence our voices.”

Dr. Danson Sylvester Kahyana PEN Uganda Chapter President says they are now focusing on sensitizing the public and practitioners about the effect of defamation laws on the quality service delivery and in turn the quality of lives.


Dr. Danson Sylvester Kahyana

Dr. Kahyana, who is also a lecturer in the Literature Department at Makerere University, urges citizens to support journalists in the cause of informing and disseminating information and to stand with them in times when they face such challenges.

He also appeals to journalists and practitioners to quickly identify with several human rights organizations which could help them once they land in such troubles resulting from storytelling.

“The biggest challenge I think is ignorance, people do not know about defamation. Even writers don’t know anything about defamation, they hear about it the day they are being arrested. And that is the biggest challenge. That is why through our work we want to ensure many people are empowered. And people should know that being prosecuted doesn’t not mean that you are guilty because writers and journalists write these stories not on their behalf but on behalf of the population,” Dr. Kahyana.

Criminal defamation laws can be traced in the 1950 Penal Code Act. Specifically articles 179-186 clearly set out the law on criminal defamation.

Article 179 defines libel as unlawful publication of any ‘defamatory matter’ with intent to defame another person, while Article 180 defines ‘defamatory matter’ as that likely to injure the person’s reputation by exposing them to hatred, contempt or ridicule.

The article protects the reputation of the dead as well as the living, although no prosecutions for alleged defamation of people who are deceased proceed without approval of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

These laws were used to prosecute two Sunday Monitor journalists, senior reporter, Angelo Izama, and Editor, Henry Ochieng, in connection with an article published in December 2009 that drew similarities between Uganda government under President Museveni and the former regime of Ferdinand Marcos in Philippines.

The two journalists were later acquitted in December 2012, by which time they had spent almost three years facing trial and threat of imprisonment for their peaceful criticism of the government.

Ronald Nahabwe, former Red Pepper Journalist who was charged with criminal defamation and later acquited.

In another notable case, authorities in Uganda arrested four journalists and charged them with criminal defamation in August 2015.  All the four- Madinah Nalwanga and Patrick Tumwesigye of the Vision Group, and Benon Tugumisirize and Ronald Nahabwe of the Red Pepper newspaper were criminally accused of defaming two Kampala businessmen in stories about a land ownership dispute.

They were granted bail but it was set at two million shillings each; while the Vision Group met this for their journalists, Red Pepper spent five days in Luzira prison before bail was paid.

Benon Tugumisirize another journalist who was charged using criminal defamation laws and later acquitted.

Trial proceedings against the four journalists, and a fifth person who had acted as their source of information, continued for more than a year before Buganda Road Chief Magistrate acquitted them of all charges in March 2017.

The fifth accused was however convicted was found to have provided journalists with information false information concerning the two businessmen with whom he was in dispute which they subsequently published.

According to the report, almost half of the 38 writers and journalists from 22 African countries who responded to the survey conducted by PEN and University of Witwatersrand on the impact of Criminal defamation and insult laws  indicated that the use of these laws inhibit them in practicing their professions.

Due to fear of prosecution under criminal defamation and or insult legislations, 16 of the respondents avoided writing stories at some point. For those that avoided writing stories oft would be on topics such as corruption, crime and politics.

“By fencing in the media in this way, criminal defamation laws deter investigative journalism and the exposure of corruption and other wrong doing by state officials and undermine media’s capacity to perform its acknowledged role as a critical watchdog of the public interest,” report.

Adding that; “They (criminal defamation laws) endanger media self-censorship and contribute to a climate of official inviolability, secrecy and unaccountability in which corruption, arbitrary unlawfulness and human rights violations may flourish.”

The report recommended that decriminalizing defamation would assuredly serve the public interest by freeing journalists to investigate and report on key political issues and personalities without constant threat of criminal prosecution as it would help ensure greater government accountability and enhancing democracy.

PEN International and PEN Uganda urges the government to promptly repeal Penal Code articles 39 and 40 on sedition which the Constitutional Court ruled in 2010 breached the constitution.

And subsequently repeal the Penal Code provisions criminalizing defamation and the publication of false news specifically articles 50, 53, and 179-186 and that the state ensures that truth is available as a complete defense to defamation.

PEN Uganda also wants amendments to laws that infringe on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression including the 2010 Interception of Communications Act and the 2011 Computer Misuse Act to ensure their full conformity with Uganda’s obligations under the African Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

They also want government to immediately and unconditionally release anyone detained or imprisoned on criminal defamation charges and drop all prosecutions on such charges.

Media owners, publishers, editors and journalist associations and practitioners have been urged to support, strengthen and comply with the code of ethics promulgated by the independent media council, train their journalists and provide adequate legal, financial and professional support to employees facing criminal defamation charges.


Hon Kabafunzaki, the People of Rwamucucu Stand with you

Yesterday, some “ungrateful” Ugandans protested our investors in Nakasero for hawking. Ungrateful because they never know the role of our modern investors especially on the road to the middle income status, the protest got me thinking who is qualified to hawk and who is not. All citizens must agree that if we are all of us going to deliver our country to the middle income status, we need to allow hawking investors to teach us how to do business on the streets of Kampala. Perhaps that is how they succeeded.

My boda boda chap, called Ssalongo, this time around is from one of the lucrative centers in Katanga has his origins in the Kigezi region in the south western part of the country. My contract with him is to take me to Nakasero, it was just a tip off by a tweep that downtown hardware traders had had their tempers flare. Along the way our conversation is largely a fortune of being a Ugandan minister. Ssalongo says he is proud of the embattled State Minister for Labor, Employment and Industrial Relations Hon. Herbert Kabafunzaki for his brevity. “We Bakiga never settle for less,” he says. Adding that; “Kabafunzaki was working for his voters.”

I therefore stand with Bakiga and the Rwamucucu people in particular to congratulate Hon. Herbert Kabafunzaki upon a heroic move to direct an investor. Those who think we can reach the middle income status without investors must be guided.   Just in case someone feels offended as you are trying to look for salt and school fees for your children, we think those “little faults” are everywhere. There isn’t a man living who has got no peccadilloes: Heaven made him so, let those free-thinkers say what they like. Atakikolangako akasuke ejinja. Nyabirerema, Nyakasiru, Karorwa, Kyogo, Kibanda, Rutengye people still love you. They content you were setup. Just because it was not in billions, that is why you’re being gagged. It should have been more than that at least for we know the number of road blocks , security checks that one must brave to statehouse.

Hon. Kabafunzaki Herbert. Cartoon by Chris Ogon/ Daily Monitor

I associate myself with the people of Mparo village, Rwamucucu Sub-County in Kabale District where you are born. I also stand with the voters of Rukiga County upon your breakthrough as a first timer, minister. We congratulate you upon following the script. When you were appointed, as voters of Rukiga expect, you should be have a mansion. You should construct malls in all growing towns and you should have land all these are the social needs. It is your turn to “eat” why should people think you are not entitled to eating yet you’re meagerly paid.


We know you were set up by some unpatriotic Ugandans. Those who don’t know how hard it is to meet the president, are heckling and rubbishing your transport refund/ facilitation to lead the investor to the president. The same shameless people go around telling your voters that you are greedy. As if they don’t know how hard it is to reach the president. Forgive them for they don’t know what they are talking about.

You have made the people of Rwamucucu proud of you. Who knew a village called Rwamucucu, thank you for joining the league of hard workers! We no doubt have always known you for being a selfless, God fearing man. Who knows whether the 5million shillings were meant to construct a local church in Nyakagabagaba.

Your voters shall indeed give you another Kisanja for being a good representative. What if you were courting the Aya brothers to fund the Rwamucucu pads for girls’ campagn? We know government has said lately that it has no money to buy sanitary pads for the little school going kids.

We are sorry that your gracefulness has been taken for granted. Maybe the His Excellency could have given you a handshake for cleaning the investors’ name. Blame your love for ‘investors’ to create a good environment for our beloved investors so that when they are investing in hawking pipes, tiles and making chapatti they can “feel at home”.

We ‘sober’ Ugandans indeed stand with you, just like social media fans have vehemently stood with Maama Stella in Luzira. Those freethinkers don’t know that in the East African region you are one of the poorest paid as members of parliament. Who said that a country preparing for middle income status needs a state minister who only earns a monthly pay of just Shs25 million?

We the tax payers know you received a one off car grant of Shs103 million, but we fell and think that is just peanuts. And by the way, for those hecklers, do they know how much fuel you spend to check on your loyal voters in the hilly Rukiga County with impassable roads? Maybe they think only Shs4.5 million; mileage facilitation is enough for a minister of Kabafunzaki caliber? Why should Ugandans think that the Shs3.2 million you receive every month as constituency facilitation is enough for all your voters? You have to give back to community, to thank them for making you closer to the national cake.
Hon. Minister, there were rumors in corridors that you don’t pay taxes as MPs. Let those hecklers, and unpatriotic Ugandans know that you receive only Shs2.6 million as your monthly taxable salary. And that you have never defaulted paying taxes. Of all the people you have to take care of, why would anyone think that your subsistence allowance which is just about Shs1 million is enough. Does anyone know how important a honorable member is, we know members of parliament among other things is lobby for your voters. Why would they think that only Shs50, 000 per sitting in a parliamentary committee where you put your valuable time would be enough? They don’t know that just by spending that committee time where you will only earn 50,000, you can fruitfully use it to meet an investor, of Aya’s caliber and pocket 5million just in a flash of a second. They don’t know that even if you add the plenary sitting allowances of 50, ooo per sitting, you will have to wait for a year to raise the money like what Aya is presenting.
Shs9 million per month for Social Security Benefits is not enough. Any serious hard-working gentleman like you will have to dine with investors to see how to improve on your security benefits; voters commend you for the brevity. Can you imagine someone thinks a minister only can require just about Shs1 million as town running allowance. Don’t they know the traffic jam experience and the hefty fees boda boda riders charge one especially if they know you are honorable? How mean can we Ugandans be? If Paul Ojambo of URA can be given Shs29.5million to photocopy and work beyond 5 o’clock in the famous 6bn handshake, why not 5million for a minister to direct an investor to statehouse?
When you go to Rwamucucu, you must indeed appear like a honorable member. While you are given wardrobe advance (loan) of up to Shs50 million why wait for the money to accumulate a lot of interest yet some investors can help fundraise for you to settle the debts? They say you were given a free iPad costing Shs2.6 million, does of those critics know the maintenance cost of an iPad? How many Ugandans have seen an iPad? If people in Rukiga county must spend hefty sums of money on phone charging deep down in Omwineero or in Buchundura because of lack of electricity, how about when their honorable member is home? Do they expect you not to have power banks that can help the people Nozi when you go to visit them?
Indeed it must be the opposition FDC that set you up in a hotel to soil your relationship with mzee. They want him to forget how you strategically sought for Mzee’s 2021 support at Kamwezi in Rukiga County. We stand with you in all situations.


Are Sanitary Pads a magic bullet to Good Performance in UPE?

31 years and counting, the NRM government critics think distribution of free sanitary pads to school going pupils is the best stop-gap measure to improve the quality of UPE schools.

The Hakuna Mchezo government led by Gen. Museveni is yet to fulfill its campaign promise of sanitary pads for school going adolescents. But is it the best thing government can promise its populace?

Are pads the only tested stop-gap measures to improve the quality of education and perhaps the performance of our children in lower learning levels? I think both the led and the leaders’ one of them are misleading the other.

Let us forget the food flask issue. I remember in my early school life, we would take food (mawolo) to school for lunch. This would be either packed in banana leaves (enshandiiko) and banana fibres. It would only be kids from well-to-do families that would pack food in buckets. Whenever it would reach lunch time, we would all gather and we start eating (entanda) and we never complained of whether food was bad or what. And we passed. Who has made some people’s brains to stop thinking today?

Let us not lose sight of the fact that before the NRM came to power and perhaps before 2016, young girls were going to school. Was it a crime to experience periods? No, and is it a responsibility of government to regard it as a disability and that whoever undergoes such must be given free things courtesy on my taxes?

I think this pads revolution of holding government at ransom is acting like headless chickens. This doesn’t make sense at all. We surely need a population which can pressurize government on serious things that help improve the education sector. Pads will not put grades, pads will not pay teachers salaries, and pads will not buy chalk in school.

A study by UNICEF indicate that one in ten menstruating girls skip school for 4 to 5 days out of every 28 day cycle or drops out completely. About 23% of adolescents between ages of 12-18 drop out after they begin menstruating. A study carried out by the Netherlands Development Association in seven districts in Uganda revealed that girls miss 10% of school days due to menstruation. This is associated with the humiliation that comes with menstruation experienced by adolescents either for the first time and or failure by the parents to improvise for their children.

But who said that is government’s responsibility to provide everything? Where is a parent in the education of their children? Critics such as Nyanzi, Gashumba have been heckling over failure by government to prioritize sanitary pads; Gashumba Frank is on record bashing government move to provide free condoms and failing to provide for menstruation.

Did females go to school before the 1980s when the pad phenomenon became pronounced in the country? If yes, what did they use? Why would someone hold government at ransom to provide something that generations and generations have existed without them? Who is dying because they have no pads? If they are a priority, why wouldn’t anyone of you make noise so government can fund youth with projects such as MakPads and many other locally produced pads so as they can be supplied to schools freely. If government has failed to fully equip schools with textbooks, chalkboards, good classrooms, why would one want government to now focus on secondary issues such as pads? Would it help improve the quality of education? It is one thing to be a 1980 born but if in 201, a person still thinks like that, and then they must be misplaced. It is not just a matter of opening your mouths fwaa. Just think. How did our parents survive?

Last week, I happened to cover a two-day 1st National Conference on learning outcomes in Uganda in 2017 held at Kyambogo University. The conference was sponsored by Twaweza East Africa and attracted over one hundred educationists from within the country and abroad.

The backdrop for the conference was the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG4 around education. Uganda fell short of meeting a number of previous global development goals including education.

AFRIpads is a local social enterprise organisation and Plan Australia partner that makes and supplies affordable and reusable sanitary pads. Based in Kitengesa Village in Masaka District, SW Uganda, the aim of AFRIpads is to curtail the high rates of menstrual-related absenteeism among primary and secondary schoolgirls in rural Africa. The pads are made by local Ugandan women giving them the opportunity to generate an income and send their children to school.
Many women and girls in Uganda cannot afford or lack the knowledge to effectively manage their periods and do not have access to proper menstrual products. This Plan Australia project is helping communities to understand reproductive health and is giving women and girls access to affordable and hygienic sanitary pads.

Participants at the conference attributed these failures to a number of educational challenges including poor governance and a deep lack of accountability, under-resourced environments and unmotivated teachers, and gender norms.

These educationists were concerned that the country should rethink its approach towards education sector. They want learning outcomes to be a measure of progress for Uganda’s education not just adhoc interventions such as offering lunch to kids, free sanitary pads to kids etc.

Previously, global demands and commitments to reforms in education exerted pressure on African governments to address challenges related to access, quality and learning outcomes. In Uganda, commitments to Education For All (EFA) yielded the current enrollment of 8,264,000 children compared to 5,303,564 about two decades ago when Universal Primary Education was introduced.

As focus was placed on addressing education challenges including shortage of teachers, classrooms, and instructional materials, slow progress was made in realizing EFA goals 2 (which as ensuring that by 2015, all children have access and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality), eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2015 and improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all however, these challenges still persist especially exhibited in the quality of the graduates of the pupils as seen from the learning outcomes.

Piloya Caroline displays a sanitary pad she handmade at Awere Primary School, Uganda, as part of a project aimed to help keep girls in school. [Edward Echwalu Photography] Global Village

For a new reader, the UPE concept was popularized by African Leaders at a conference for African Minister of Education in Addis Ababa in 1961. The conferees proclaimed that access to education was not only a fundamental right but was also Africa’s most urgent and vital need. By 1980, this universal, compulsory, “free” primary education had spread the whole continent. In Uganda due to several insecurities at the time it would later begin in early 1990s.

The moral issues surrounding UPE initiative in Uganda concerned its contribution to social equity in a society in which unequal access to education had been a major source of social differentiation.

Right from the start, government stopped schools from collecting some money at schools to cater for a few basics as the school awaits government subvention. At first, parents were willing to participate willingly both materially and financially in their children’s education since they believed education was important for the child’s future, to parents and to the community and the country as a whole. Because the government interests and parents’ interests had remained unresolved by the introduction of UPE especially with government wanting to take full control of schools, there emerged a conflict over quantity Vs Quality.

The concept of “free education” has considerably grown and is affecting the quality of our graduates. Indeed Prof. Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba of Kenya has at some point wondered whether this free educations is indeed “free of knowledge”. Parents neglected their duties and since it was presumed compulsory, all parents would do was send their children to school to live at the mercy of teachers who are ill-motivated with majority in addition to earning meager remunerations and poor or no housing at all.

Uwezo Report 2016

It is common knowledge that majority of graduates are languishing on the streets with no employment. Despite Uganda’s huge unemployed labor force, the Ugandan economy still has a big shortage of appropriately skilled workers   which means that the education system has failed to tailor its outputs to the needs of the economy. Can we then now focus on readjusting the university programs to ensure skilled and well-tailored graduates are produced?

While some loud-mouthed humans think pads are the magic bullet to put right the education system in Uganda, I think they are misleading government on what should come as a priority in a country which struggling to take off.

It is indeed shameful to find a person who can afford to take their children to Kampala Parents, to Green Valley schools etc where fees is more than University tuition at Makerere to start demanding for pads from government instead of things that can help the country prosper. What if one asked government to ensure better trained teachers at the schools and demand performance rather than asking for a pad?

To this, I would propose that once government can focus on ensuring that infrastructure in schools are available, teachers are adequately trained and well motivated to meet the needs of children, parent are sensitized to ensure they equip their children with the basic requirements to aid them school well and then government on top of thorough supervision ensures that its subvention comes in time, then we can improve the quality.

During the 23rd Education and Sports sector review of 2016 at Golf course Hotel in Kampala, the Education Minister Janet Kataaha Museveni communicated the proposed action points for primary education. They included a policy to review pre-primary and primary education sub sector, nationwide campaign to promote school feeding, salary enhancement for primary school teachers and to have a UPE school in every parish.

The minister acknowledged the disconnect between the Ministry of Education and the families of pupils on point of feeding the children at school. She mentioned that the Ministry was set to undertake a nationwide awareness creation campaign on the role of parents in educating their children which included the responsibility of parents feeding the children as the education policy demands in the education Act 2008. I don’t know if it says that government shall provide pads to pupils.

I solmnely think that Sanitary Pads Not Worth my Tax

Making Sense of Makerere Guild Elections

Makerere Students went to polls on Friday April 7. By all accounts, Makerere is the best and perhaps largest university in Uganda and in the region. The election came after a two-week long campaign period and watching the process, more lessons are to be learnt.

Stick welding students clad in T-Shirts with labels GGB (Gongom Guard Brigade) this inscription means they are from Lumumba, one of the halls on the university. This is a security make up of the hall. every hall has this

Campus politics is of course somewhat different from the national elections and so to juxtapose the two maybe mistaking an elephant grass for sugarcane. Thought within universities, politics is played in different ways but the general characteristic of the polls especially in our higher institutions is extortion, academic mediocrity hence poor prospects of National leadership. While politics in such institutions should be basis for criticizing what is wrong in the country, it seems from the look of things, the reverse is true.

For purposes of clarity, I begin with the electoral process with the choosing of the electoral commission. Immediately campaigns commence, everyday, at least there is a rally in one of the halls of students’ residence on campus. After every procession, I go undercover trailing each of the candidates in a procession to make some observations and perhaps see what happens in these processions and where they go there after.

One of the student supporters wearing a mask at Makerere during the guild elections. PHOTO BY OKELLO HERBERT ANDREW

Majority of candidates have organized camps that base in their halls. Some have a reinforcement of former students and or hired mercenaries who will later mobilize crowds, make posters and pin them all over. Some take a surveillance role to see if the candidates’ posters are safe/ have not been torn by opponents.  Every day of a rally, one camp mobilized several students who converge in a hall that a particular candidate resides. Boxes with dozens of tot-pack waragi are distributed to the lucky few as motivation to charge for the rally.

Police begging students to remain calm at one of the rallies in Livingstone Hall

One of the most vivid campaign processions was of Mercy Faith Lakisa a UYD independent leaning Candidate. After a rally at Marystuart, the procession exits from the main gate to Wandegeya round about, Katanga slum, Kikumi-Kikumi, then to Kikoni and then back to campus climaxing at Africa Hall. While at the Marystuart rally, the atmosphere is raucous, students strolled into the box grounds others filling the staircase to the hall road as the occupants of the largest female hall on campus the “ladies” fondly referred to as “boxers” watch the proceedings from their room galleries, while others from the tower windows, openings in their dome-shaped spectacular Mary Stuart hall, a hall with the shadows of the past glory.

Next to the contestants set of chairs lay a table that sat young beautiful looking ladies with serious and busy faces dressed in Gomesi, others SCR members sitting around them in red gowns led by the culture minister. The boxes that sat in front of the tables were wrapped with white papers labeled “Elders Box” standing emphatically bigger than the rest and with an inscription, “No coins allowed” candidates are instructed to drop between 10,000 and beyond to receive blessings from elders. Table occupants keep looking at the candidates with great anticipation.

Paul Kato together with Simon Wanyera being carried during the final guild rally on Thursday this week at Makerere University.

Within the procession, a get to learn that Lakisa is a 3rd year Dental Surgery student from Africa Hall and an old girl of Gayaza High School who had lost in UYD primaries after attaining 21 against 24 votes of William Karamagi.  The campaigns are full of life with excited young ladies and men some wielding sticks profusely sweating and dancing to the rhythmically deafening noise of sounds from the music system sagging on a canter that walks like a tortoise. Traffic is still at Wandegeya round about as thousands throng the streets. Students proceed to Katanga, a slum in the valley between Mulago and Makerere University hills. This street has attracted several businesses including students’ hostels. While here students carry their heads through the windows if their rooms while others stand at the balcony of the buildings to cheer the candidate. The life, enthuse that comes with excitement on the streets. It sweeps everyone off the street including children who follow the procession with baskets of sweet bananas along.

Lakisa is to later garner a total of 1,567 followed by William Karamagi a UYD flag bearer who got 1,041. In total, 13,508 votes were cast with 423 invalid votes, Paul Kato emerges victor after he swept the polls with 5205 votes drawing the largest number of votes from his school, School of Education. His nearest challenger, Abdu Kareem Ziritwaula managed 4,369 votes.
The tightly contested race saw the usual candidates posters going up buildings , tree branches, and electricity poles all over the university and the neighboring suburbs of Nakulabye, Kikoni, Wandegeya and Kikumi-kikumi amid deafening, dancing and drumming by the swarms of rowdy students clad in their chilly-red undergraduate gowns.

Kato Paul, Guild President Elect, Photo by Kizza Ali

This year’s was a tense campaign. Just a day students went to the polls, police made orders that no politicians were to be entertained at the students’ rallies. Before the orders could sink into the students, Col. Kizza Besigye, the Forum for Democratic Change –FDC strong man had already  sneaked in the university accessing it through one of the dozens of illegal entrances and later be disguised in a Prado belonging to a one Doreen Nyanjura. Presence of the Police at the entrances busing themselves with searching each and every car to rid of any sort of cockroaches in case it disguised as Besigye will later look silly on realizing the man they are looking for is already inseparable with the students.

Students retreat to taking cover after shots as police exited Besigye from Makerere Guild Polls. PHOTO: OKELLO HERBERT ANDREW

Stones flying in the air will later exchange with bullets teargas and spray in the clash leading to car glass breakages as well as students and policemen sustaining injuries from the pelting stones. This just like the previous elections has been fused with national politics driven by money, oratory and later a fair amount of shallowness exhibited by not following issues but rather following the comic, the funny candidate. Candidates with funny and heavy vocabulary will be considered darlings. Most eye-catching in this election are slogans such as kowtow in their poohoo, tang tang buu nuguu among others.

A polling registrar displaying a ballot paper during the tallying process at Faculty of Arts

A student lies on ground after being overpowered by booze during the campaigns

Makerere campaigns just like national politics are full of mudslinging (usually called chemical), humor especially with emotions that are carried n the faces of the supporters, wacky ideas and then those campaign strategies such as one-o- one and door-to-door strategy as employed by one of the independent candidates James Kazungu who eventually garner a whooping on vote out of the 13,508 ballots cast that has buried him to criticism and ridicule.

We congratulate Kato Paul upon fighting for his share and we wish him a good time in budgeting for his 210millions. GRCs can afford to appease him in any way to attain ministries.

Why Uganda Cannot Dismiss Hand Hoes in Agriculture

As we head for Women’s Day tomorrow, I was thinking hard about the reality of our Ugandan women activists and i am not taking it it. I am rather still defiant.

My senior colleague Wambi Michael writes a story where the Uganda Women’s Network Executive Director, Rita Aciro Lakor said it is an embarrassment that hand hoe is still encouraged as a preferred tool in agriculture at a time when other countries are mechanizing agriculture.

The female activists actually propose that the use of hand hoes should be discouraged by government due to related implications such as low production, pains such as spinal pains among many others.

However, let me for now object to their views. First forward, several studies done on Agriculture in Uganda indicate that 99.4% smallholder farmers in Uganda use traditional, rudimentary and obsolete technologies and methodologies for pre and post-harvest operations.

Here, we’re talking about the 70% labor force in the country, people who are only doing agriculture to help sustain the country. If you went to markets in Uganda and see the various fresh products in Uganda being brought from gardens accross the various parts of the country, one must first of all thank the great men and women who toil to plant seeds in the soil to feed the entire populace. Hilda guide me where I go wrong this is your area.

Maybe for now, Ugandans are not yet ready for tractors. During the recent presidential elections (John Blanshe M) please remind me isnt it the time Mzee Museveni Kaguta promised to distribute over 18million hand hoes to distribute them to locals to enhance agriculture.

Whereas the activists might be having a point in that we need to now embrace mechanized agriculture for higher outputs, I think it is rather treacherous to advise that hand hoes should be banished. I have grown in a village where you must get a hoe and dig in order to secure food both for sell and and for home consumption.

We must first appreciate that given the population rise in Uganda, there has been pressure created on our land and most of the parts of the country especially in Western Uganda have been fragmented. Considering that mechanised agriculture requires land with good terrain, it might not be good advice to people to abandon hoes.

Especially following the recent reports on hunger crisis in the country, many people today either have been affected by the climate changes which has affected food production but this has also been due to unguided settlements and encroachments where people have for-instance encroached water catchment areas, forests depleted every natural resource at the expense of the climate.

A group of Abahingi women (subsistence farmers) from the village of Mirindi, Nangara clearing the land to plant beans.

We must all appreciate the fact that we need serious agriculture and a mechanized one for that matter but we cannot abandon the rudimentary tools when we do not have capacity as a country to establish agricultural farms to be able to produce for the ever growing population as a country. We need a strategy and I think we should be making noise to interest government on the need to do modern agriculture since like it is argued that our rudimentary modes of agriculture are not productive.

With this unpredictable climate change, government needs to strategically adopt some strategies of ensuring there is massive food production of food in the country. At the end of the day someone will not praise you for bringing piece when their children have slept on an empty stomach.

My friend and senior comrade Edgar Muvunyi Tabaro recently pondered on why China at this day age was donating the yellow rice to Uganda yet in a few years ago it used Uganda Used to be a food basket.

Media reports indicate that traders travel from as far as Rwanda to come to Mbarara and clear posho stocks in shops, Business men have gone an extra mile of paying off farmers in their gardens before even they plant. Mr. Justus Karuhanga let us not only focus on milk and meat production and we have people run out of food but also invest in serious crop agriculture.

The food situation in the country is not the best as many people are reportedly dying of hunger. If we must really have to help our population, we must ensure agriculture is embraced but not only through our traditional agriculture modes but also embracing modern mechanised agriculture which will take time. But there must be will by government.

I wish the passion that the government is running to clamp down kiosks and structures in parkyard market would be the same passion government is using in identifying areas which can accomodate irrigation and so national farms can be established.

One wonders that although Uganda is endowed with fertile soils and favourable climate, the major factors that influence agriculture, the country continues to produce at a law scale.

UNEB Officials Decry Social Media “Fake News”


Davidson Ndyabahika


Prof. Mary Okwakol, the UNEB board executive chairperson has said that before PLE examinations were conducted on November 2nd and 3rd last year, social media circulated a fake Mathematics paper which trapped students, and teachers leading to failure of pupils in the schools that relied on the paper.

The Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) officials have decried the rate at which social media has been used to circulate false information purportedly originating from UNEB.

Speaking at the release of the 2016 Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) results recently at the president’s office conference room, Prof. Mary Okwakol, the UNEB board executive chairperson said there is a lot of misinformation that has been going around attributed to UNEB.

Prof. Okwakol said that before the Christmas break, social media carried a story attributed to the UNEB Public Relations Officer to the effect that the Board had changed the UCE grading which caused a lot of public concern.

She said that before PLE examinations were conducted on November 2nd and 3rd last year, social media circulated a fake Mathematics paper which trapped students, and teachers leading to failure of pupils in the schools that relied on the paper.

“Las week the platform carried another story attributing it to the UNEB executive secretary setting the dates for releasing the PLE and UCE and when the results were not released on the dates they had  circulated, another rumor camesaying that UNEB is not releasing results because changes are being made,” Prof. Okwakol before she added that;

“UNEB has not changed results since the marking was completed. This has also caused confusion and you will hear a lot more but as I said please take the steps to find the truth.”

Prof. Okwakol noted that the examinations board has received information that there are some individuals who are soliciting money from different schools throughout the country through social media.
She warned the public not to be caught off guard and asked that they should only go to UNEB to find out the truth and the authenticity of such information. She has further warned the public to disregard future information through such platforms.

The sensational form that fake news takes makes it appealing. Research has shown that people respond more to fake news than accurate accounts of events.

Recently, social media carried fake reports that the Uganda Advanced Certificate Education results were to be released this week.

However, information from officials at UNEB is that the officials will brief the Minister of Education and Sports on UACE 2016 results on Monday 20th February,2017,11am at Nakasero. The official UACE release will be on Tuesday 21stFebruary,2017 at 11am at Office of the President.

I was Misquoted on Migingo Island – Uganda Police Boss

In short

Uganda Police Spokesperson AIGP Kaweesi told this website earlier today that the reports carried that the special Forces Command was taking charge of Migingo Islands by the media were fueling tension and were bound to breed bad blood between Uganda and Kenya. He noted that the police only transferred police officers after reports that the ones on the island had developed indiscipline.

Uganda Police Spokesperson AIGP Kaweesi told this site earlier today that the reports carried that the special Forces Command was taking charge of Migingo Islands by the media were fueling tension and were bound to breed bad blood between Uganda and Kenya. He noted that the police only transferred police officers after reports that the ones on the island had developed indiscipline.

“I told Journalists on Monday that we had changed our police which was deployed at Migingo Islands because the officers who were there had become indisciplined to which we took there other people. And this means that law and order will be maintained by Uganda Police in partnership with our Kenyan counterparts. The marine brigade of UPDF will only be in charge of activities carried out on water. The news published that SFC had taken  charge has brought tension on the Island and it has been interpreted as if there we are preparing to wage war on Kenya which is not true,” AIGP Felix Kaweesi Police Spokesman.

Kaweesi added that police has not been withdrawn from the island since it will be handing law breaking cases. He however noted that the marines’ brigade unit of UPDF will be in charge of all case related to water such as fishing.

SFC spokesperson Maj Chris Magezi, is reported to have previously said that SFC was only going to be part of the UPDF marine force that shall be deployed on all Ugandan national waters to combat illegal fishing as directed by President Museveni while in Masindi on NRM Liberation Day and recently in Apac District.

Adding that the directive of the president was being misinterpreted by the media.

This one-acre island is part of the troika of islands known as Migingo that has been at the centre of a boundary dispute between Uganda and Kenya.

The dispute flared in 2008 after then Kenyan leader Mwai Kibaki demanded that Uganda leaves.

A joint border demarcation team set up by the two countries in 2009 has since failed to resolve the dispute. Security on the island has been overseen by Uganda with a small presence of Kenya police.

Uganda’s claim to the island is based on the provisions of the Uganda Constitution and the 1926 British Order in Council that demarcated the boundary.

Kenya’s on the other hand is based on the 1926 British Order in Council and mostly sentimental reasons, among which is the islands are nearer to Kenya than Uganda and that the occupants are Luo of Kenya.

Kaweesi added that;

“UPDF was given a mandate to take charge of illigal fishing on our lakes and they will be led by a former SFC commando called Nuwagaba. However it is not SFC that will be doing the mandate but rather UPDF marine brigade. This doesnt mean that police will leave the Island as media had reported.”


Have you traveled to Uganda? Do you know Sim Sim? Have you eaten it before, or its products? If you haven’t, you no longer have a reason to say you dint know. Just a trip to northern Uganda or eastern parts of the country, try asking these yummy cereals, they will be at your service. 

Sesame seed and sesame dessert with caramel

Sesame seed and sesame dessert with caramel

When I visited my sister in Kinyamaseke Village, in Kinyamaseke Parish, Munkunyu Subcounty in Kasese where she has been married for about 12 years now, I began to appreciate different food prepared by people in a traditional setting.
The warm air that escaped the house to the wintry chill behind me was infused with the aroma of the freshly prepared Sim Sim cake. Looking at them, my mouth started watering and i could barely wait to feast on these little, seeds.Simsim-Bread-Food-produce-and-other-For-sale-at-All-Uganda
Anyone who walks on the streets of Kampala can tell he/she has seen these little, yummy food stuffs called Sim Sim. It is some times called Sesame.
Usually, Sim Sim products are hawked in the traffic jam and some time with street vendors beautifully packed in a water and air tight polythene. They are made in different forms to please consumers. Some take square shapes, others circular while others are sold together with roasted G.nuts.
Interestingly, when you keenly interest yourself on who Usually sells these yummy little seeds, it will be young beautiful ladies and trust me these will not be Baganda. It will be someone with a true deep African beauty hidden in her dark skin color. Most probably this person will have origins from dry land areas of Uganda such as Acholi, Teso, Lango, and West Nile areas because that is where they are usually grown.

Black Sesame Seeds

Black Sesame Seeds

If you have not eaten these, Oh My God you don’t know what you are missing. Sim Sim is used in many ways to and is a delicacy.Bakeries add sim sim seeds to bread and the top of hamburgers to give them a rich nutty taste, if you have tasted it, you can testify.
farm002pxThe beauty about delicacy is that you can eat these seeds raw or you may roast them (Okukaranga in Runyankore). Once roasted, they can pound its paste can be added to smoked meat, fish and some types of vegetables to make delicious soup. Lakorokoro is a dish of smoked meat and cooked sim sim. One to be regarded as a pure Acholi. “We eat this meal usually with Karo and sweet potatoes,” my friend Oyeki Gerald from Gulu excited me.
Sim Sim paste which the Luo people call ‘Odi’ is very sweet. When you advance to South Sudan, this white Sim Sim is used to make “Halawa” usually referred to as the “African Chocolate”
Sim Sim once pound oil can be extracted and used for smearing
If you have been to areas of Lira, Aduku, Dokolo and Apac, Gulu towns, then you know what i am talking about Please try and ask this delicacy.


A man preparing sim sim after harvesting in northern Uganda

Just like it is believed that eating G.nuts increases Male sexual performance, the same argument is also advanced for Sim sim. That is not why i take it anyway but true this crop has been proved to have important health benefits for one who eats them.
For instance, it contains calcium, which helps build bones, enhance bone density and lower the risk of Osteoporosis (the holes in bones). Eating Sim sim has also been proven to bring relief to people suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis, a Chronic joint disease that causes damage to joints in the body. These seeds are high in dietary fibre and add roughage to the intestines which improves bowel movements and helps prevent constipation.
Facts reveal that Uganda is the fifth largest producer of Sim Sim in the world producing about 170,000 metric tons annually. It is believed that Sim Sim growing in Uganda started in 1910 when it was first introduced from Kenya and then distributed to Eastern and Northern Parts of Uganda. I hope you will testify on testing the delicacy. 


Students went on a week-long strike in April in protest against the debt-ridden university’s controversial fee payment policy.

Makerere has been demanding UGX21 billion (US$6.3 million) from about 45% of the 39,417 students currently enrolled.

Problems with tuition fee payment have placed the institution into debt and rendered it unable to meet financial obligations, especially to staff who have been demanding salary arrears.

The policy students were striking over in April, established in 2012, required students to pay at least 60% of their tuition fees by the sixth week of a semester, which allowed them to register, submit coursework and sit for exams.

But the policy provoked unrest every time the university tried to enforce it, and students then requested that all tuition fees rather be paid by the end of the twelfth week.

The government represented by Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda  and Inspector General of Police General Kale Kayihura  convened a meeting with Makerere University Council Finance Committee Chair Thomas Tayebwa, Vice-chancellor Professor Ddumba Ssentamu and students leaders and resolved to shelve the policy.

Critics contend that government should not interfere in the running of universities if it does not provide them with alternative means to raise revenue to run their activities and pay salaries however, i find this lame. The same critics will dis government if it doesn’t intervene since this is a public institution.