The UPDF Act under section 164 prohibits unauthorised sale or wearing of military uniforms with a penalty of seven years imprisonment on conviction by a court.
Exceptions are given to persons with authority from the force, among others. The media’s coverage of the ongoing NRM retreat for its newly-elected members of parliament at the National Leadership Institute Kyankwanzi showed a photo of Honourable Jacob Oulanyah in a full military uniform. It was further reported that initially MPs could not recognise Oulanyah since he was clad in full military fatigue.
It must be remembered that at the ‘height’ of the People Power movement, the government went ahead and gazetted certain uniforms and other wears, including the red beret, as an official military attire while promising jail sentences for civilians caught wearing the same without authority from the UPDF (there is already a court challenge).
The UPDF must come clean on the procedures one must take to obtain the said authority for use of its uniforms. It is unclear whether other political parties have made attempts to take advantage of the exceptions in section 164 of the UPDF Act, or whether the UPDF is still a non-partisan national army as envisaged by Uganda’s constitution.
The continued partisan use of the UPDF military uniforms by the NRM party members at its retreats should not be underlooked by all law-abiding citizens of this country. The army leadership, as part of its national duty, must make public any application to grant of permission by any person or organisation to use its military uniforms.
The NRM party should also cease from subjecting the UPDF from unwarranted public criticism. Since it is a party which claims to have a national appeal, its members must, therefore, proudly wear their party uniform to demonstrate that appeal.
Reintroducing license fees is a bad idea
I shudder when I hear of government reintroducing licence fees. For starters, Uganda has about one million vehicles plying her dusty roads (don’t be deceived by the jams; it’s the roads that have remained the same size since independence).
By the way, lest I forget, Uganda’s about seven vehicles per 1,000 citizens (2015) is one of the lowest in the world. And of those one million vehicles, the majority (over 60 per cent) belong to the government’s ministries, departments, agencies, Local governments, embassies, organizations and companies.
So, if each vehicle is to pay the Shs 200 licence fees, the majority would be exempted. It will be the already over-taxed corporate class and businesses that will bear the full brunt of the new tax. That implies a higher cost of doing business.
Also, if the excise on fuel (which replaced the annual licence fees over a decade ago) is to remain intact, the new tax would be unfair and would certainly be challenged in court because it is double taxation.
In the circumstances, it would have been better if the government instead increased the fuel levy by Shs 100 (one hundred only per litre). Very few would feel it. Besides, revenue from fuel is easier and cheaper to collect than licence fees.
We shall benefit from oil
Uganda is getting closer to becoming one of Africa’s oil producing countries. Uganda is expected to produce 230,000 barrels of oil per day (at peak), which is expected to boost economic growth.
Commercial oil production is expected soon and all signs now show that the construction work for the required production and transportation infrastructure is set to start, following the recent signing of the three agreements, which marked the official launch of the projects.
The Albertine region, and specifically the areas where oil has been discovered, was historically underdeveloped. However, with the discovery of oil in this area, the region is already seeing benefits such as improved infrastructure (roads and an airport), employment opportunities and increase business opportunities.
It is very crucial that the government figures out how to encourage the participation of all Ugandans in the oil sector through the use of local labour, goods and services during oil and gas activities.
I am certain that once production starts, the revenues will enable our government to invest in massive infrastructural and social development throughout the country; this industry will be one of the most important contributors to the national treasury.
Now that we are set to start the actual operations that will lead us to first oil, there are some issues that government should look into and make sure that they are implemented.
The government should develop an all-inclusive and evidence-based programme to strengthen the vocational skills training at Kigumba Petroleum Institute and other institutes that are training people in the various oil-related courses.
Government should make sure that the local manufacturers adopt modern technology and innovative solutions to produce products that align with the quality of goods and services needed in the oil sector.
The middle-income status that we have been chasing for is finally here.
Districts should fight climate change
Climate change remains one of the leading causes of devastation to our environment; accounting for a range of natural disasters and varying forms of vulnerabilities.
From the shocks caused by the landslides in Bududa and Bundibugyo to the floods in Kasese and the rising levels of Lake Victoria in the southern region of the country, the phenomenon has left many communities devastated and vulnerable to hunger and disease.
Besides, the locust infestation in Northern Uganda and the Covid-19 pandemic have rendered the country to face a crisis within a crisis.
Today, Uganda is one of the countries experiencing frequent and prolonged droughts; reduced erratic and unpredictable rainfall, which are valiantly affecting agricultural production and food security. These climate change disasters have affected the economy generally but also greatly impacted on women, youth and refugees; among other highly vulnerable individuals and communities.
The current Covid-19 pandemic has compounded the devastation of many nations, leaving many people dead and others highly vulnerable to hunger and poverty. Many people, especially those employed in the informal sector, have lost their jobs and livelihoods. The majority are now resorting to natural resource-based activities for survival.
According to the National Development Plan III, climate change mitigation and environment management are critical to the achievement of increased household incomes and improvement of the quality of life of the population.
Sufficient precipitation occasioned by maintaining and/or increasing forest and wetland cover is vital for hydropower generation, agriculture, fisheries, domestic water supply, industry, navigation, tourism, wildlife and ecosystems.
Proper wetland management is necessary to mitigate flood risks, maintenance of aquatic ecosystem, and access to fresh water. Environment preservation is also critical for human health and tourism.
Mitigating the climate change orchestrated impact of droughts, floods, heat waves and landslides on the livelihood of vulnerable populations is critical for reducing income inequality.
Kyenjojo district has successfully responded to the call of mainstreaming climate change into district development plan hence becoming a role model for other districts in Uganda.
Give Mujib a chance
Mujib Kasule intends to challenge incumbent Fufa president and MP-elect Moses Magogo for the top job in Uganda’s football. Believe me when I say that you have found your guy.
‘Jiba’, as we used to call him at Kibuli SS, is football-crazy - he loves the game he lives the game, and dreams the game, such that I wasn’t surprised to learn that he now owns a football club in Uganda. He has a strong desire to leave a positive legacy on football. He has taught himself to connect ideas in every sphere of football.
While at Kibuli SS, he was among those that really loved football more than books. I last saw Mujib at Wandegeya mosque about eight years ago. It was during the Friday Jumah prayers, and he looked as humble as he used to be in school.
We chatted for a bit before we both made our way to the mosque. He is a man who loves his creator, which is a good element that will encourage him to kick corruption out of football, if he is given a chance to lead.
I believe Mujib will bring insights to the game, with honesty, clarity, frankness and lack of pretension.
Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba,