With a new pope to succeed Benedict XVI being elected next month, it’s wise that all Africans, Catholics and non-Catholics, pray hard that the Holy Spirit guides Catholic Cardinals in the conclave to choose the first African pope in 1,500 years.
While in football we have often blamed our failure on biased refereeing, it’s good to note that The Almighty God takes no bribes, and who knows! He could give us an Easter gift in form of an African pope. Not that we have not had an African pope before. Actually, we have had three of them, with the last one being St. Gelasius who reigned from 402 to 496.
However, apart from all the three being identified as African-born, we are not told which part of the continent they hailed from, leaving us a bit suspicious. Africans need to drum up support for our cardinals destined for the conclave. If possible, why not charter planes and fly to Rome in big numbers to try influence the outcome! Surely, nothing is impossible.
If Africa could in the ancient past produce great Catholic saints, like St. Augustine and St. Monica (all descendants of present day Algeria), why can’t we afford another pope in this modern era?
Some people may argue that the 2,000-year-old College of Cardinals institution remains too conservative to elevate a non-European to the throne of St Peter, but African Cardinals like Francis Arinze of Nigeria are no spring chicken. The Ibo cardinal is thought to be well respected by colleagues of all national backgrounds. Cardinal Arinze, we hear, ranks as the Number Four official in the Vatican hierarchy, where heads the office dealing with methods of divine worship.
Baptised at the age of nine, Arinze studied in London in the 1960s and became the youngest bishop in Africa at the age of 32. He was also the first African cardinal to head a Vatican office.
However, whether or not an African is elected pope is not the issue; the recognition by western Catholics that the Catholic population has indeed shifted to the South of the Equator is more critical.
We should be more serious on wetland conservation
February 2 was World Wetlands day, set apart by a number of countries which realized the importance of wetlands for the survival of humankind and the environment 42 years ago. This day deserves a public holiday if it is to inspire Ugandans to change their mindset towards environmental conservation.
Most of Uganda’s wetlands are being lost to farmers, industrialists, brick-makers and real estate developers and this is a major cause of menacing floods plaguing the country. I strongly urge the authorities to arrest any trucks laden with gravel and rocks heading to any wetland.
The Kampala suburbs of Luzira, Kireka, Kirombe and Ggaba have suffered intensive encroachment on swamps, a situation that could have been averted if the law was tightly enforced.
The earlier we deal with this the better.
DPP right to ‘highjack’ Basajja case
Some sections of the population have been complaining about the DPP “hijacking” the Basajjabalaba case. Article 120 of Uganda’s 1995 Constitution provides for the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and includes the functions of the person holding this office.
Article 120 (3) (c) provides that the DPP can take over and continue any criminal proceedings instituted by any other person or authority. So, the DPP taking over the case from Allan Mulindwa, a lawyer and private prosecutor, falls squarely within the ambit of the law.
Mulindwa alleges that the same Constitution provides that the DPP has to first get consent from the concerned party, but in my opinion, the law is very clear as re-echoed by Article 120(3) (d) of the 1995 Constitution which provides that DPP has the power to discontinue at any stage before judgment is delivered, any criminal proceedings to which this article relates, instituted by himself or herself or any other person or authority.
In relation to the above, the issues of consent come in if the DPP wishes to discontinue any proceedings, not take over criminal proceedings. Furthermore, in the case of discontinuation, consent is sought from court, not just any concerned party as Mulindwa suggests. Mulindwa has the right of petitioning the Constitutional Court over the matter, but I think it will only culminate into endless litigation.
Let the DPP handle the matter and accord Mulindwa the necessary support to see that justice is seen to be done rather than bickering on a minor issue like who should prosecute.
School of Law.
Improve effectiveness of sim card registration
I agree with President Museveni in his arguement that bail should be scrapped for murderers, defilers and selfish corrupt public servants who steal exorbitant amounts of public funds. The particular vice of corruption has gradually escalated from theft of millions to billions of shillings.
The proposal by the president might seem harsh and extreme, but corruption in this country has also risen to extreme heights. We are tired of waking up to headlines of corruption scandals such as the current infamous OPM scandal, the pensions scandal and Chogm and Gavi before them. These fearless culprits are often left to go scot-free, all in the name of bail, yet there is a need to use a deterrent heavy hand.
Besides, these culprits send out a wrong image of Uganda globally. Countries willing to fund projects and provide badly-needed aid end up withdrawing their support, since they rightly believe this money will end up on the personal accounts of some corrupt public officials.
The proposal to scrap bail will come in handy at this time when many Ugandans cannot fully access services meant for their well-being due to the rampant graft.