News Tap into Uganda’s immense opportunities, Museveni says at launch of Bigirimana books

Uganda has a sea of opportunities that leaders should tap into to serve their communities, President Museveni has said.

The President’s counsel was made on Friday at State House Entebbe as he launched two books authored by the Secretary to the Judiciary, Mr Pius Bigirimana. The books are; ‘The Corona Lockdown Chronicles’ and ‘Abundance Mentality’.

‘Abundance Mentality’ is a story of Bigirimana’s rise from a barefooted boy in remote Kisoro to become a permanent secretary.


‘The Corona Lockdown Chronicles’ is a compilation of experiences and lessons of the Bigirimana family from April to May when the country was under mandatory lockdown owing to the outbreak of the Covid-19.

Commenting about “Abundance Mentality”, President Museveni said: “What Bigirimana is saying is that in Uganda there are many opportunities to benefit from and to use to serve the society. They range from financial to medical, to hospitality, etc”.

President Museveni commended Bigirimana for being an active servant and a loyal cadre.

“Because of being active, he was fought in the Office of the Prime Minister and I said if you don’t want him there let us put him in Gender,” said the President.

“When he went to Gender he did wonderful work. That’s why I said he is like pumpkin seeds. He sprouts anywhere you put him,” added the President.

The President said publication of the books and their stories was an achievement because “if you are educated and you don’t manage to succeed in Africa then there is a problem”.

“It is easy to succeed in Africa because everything here is in abundance,” said the President.

He added that in Africa there are a lot of undiscovered opportunities unlike in Europe where all opportunities are all exploited.

“I congratulate Bigirimana for writing these books. I want to commend the spectacles of Pius that are able to see the opportunities. That mentality of ‘I can do it’ is what Bigirimana is talking about,” said Museveni.

At the same function, Acting Chief Justice Owiny Dollo, who has known Bigirimana since the 1980s, said the President was apt to label him “a pumpkin seed” because he is already sprouting and soon flourishing.

“The example of Pius is important to this country. This is a challenge to all of us that before we die, we should put our life experiences in writing. We owe it to society,” said Owiny-Dollo.

Mr Bigirimana, who was accompanied by his immediate family, thanked President Museveni for his physical presence and for hosting them in State House to launch his books.

“I truly thank you all for being part of my journey and hope you will enjoy reading these two books,” Bigirimana said.

Mr. Bigirimana said apart from writing the books, the lockdown gave him time to internalise the communication by the President on the real economy versus vulnerable economy.

Tap into Uganda’s immense opportunities, Museveni says at launch of Bigirimana books

“This is a rich paper which I have in its entirety made to form part of the book for the people to read,” he added.

He thanked the President for supporting the recently-passed Administration of Judiciary Act and projects like the construction of Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

Present at the book launch were the Principal Judge, Flavian Zeija, Bufumbira South MP Sam Bitangaro, among others.

News Yaket Limited: URA impounds shs1.9bn goods for Chinese company over digital stamps

Tax body, Uganda Revenue Authority have invaded the premises of Chinese beverage company, Yaket International Limited, the manufacturers of Yaket Water and impounded goods worth shs1.9billion for not bearing digital stamps.

According to Vicent Seruma, the URA spokesperson, working on intelligence, they raided the company’s premises in Gayaza and found that they were not complying to the new tax system.

“The URA Domestic Taxes Enforcement Unit, working on solid intelligence moved in on Yaket International Limited, the manufacturers of Yaket Mineral Water and found the company producing and packaging unstamped water at their premises in Gayaza,”Sseruma said.

“The enforcement team also established that the factory was running two production lines churning out unstamped bottled water while two trucks were found on the road distributing unstamped water from the factory. Seven trucks were also found loading unstamped water for distribution to the market.”

According to the tax body, the company’s stock room also contained unstamped water whereas the company also failed to provide documents required to be maintained by a VAT registered taxpayer manufacturing excisable products and the Excise Registration Certificate.

During the raid, four people were arrested statements taken from a company representative whereas nine truck drivers were intercepted and the production and sale of Yaket mineral water was put on hold.

“The production area and the stock room with unstamped water were both sealed off. Search certificates were also obtained for the stock found in the two depots in Kireka also found selling unstamped water purchased from Yaket International Limited. The goods impounded on the trucks and in the stores were worth over shs 1.9 billion with tax approximated at shs 569 Million,”Sseruma said.

He warned manufacturers against taking advantage of the current coronavirus lockdown to commit crimes but also urged traders to desist from stocking unstamped gazetted excisable products.

Digital Tax Stamps

URA commenced implementation of Digital Tax Stamps on November,1, 2019 to combat the production, importation and supply of counterfeit goods and to also boost domestic revenue.

Digital Tax Stamps are physical paper stamps with security features and codes. They are applied to goods or their packaging to enable manufacturers and traders to track a product’s movement. This will enable the government to easily monitor tax compliance.

This is in addition to quick response code (QR code) that will allow distributors, retailers, and consumers to use an app on their smartphones to verify the authenticity of the products.

The new stamps solution is part of URA’s scheme to combat illicit trade, close revenue leakages while managing compliance of some multinational companies that exploit gaps and in the tax collection architecture.

According to the tax body, goods in the category of water, soda, beer, spirits, and cigarettes, among others will be required to bear Digital Tax Stamps, failure of which distributors or manufacturers of such goods will be penalised.

Uganda is not the first in the region to embrace Digital Tax Stamps, noting it has been implemented across the region including in Tanzania, Rwanda, and Kenya.


News IGG: We Are Working Hard To Recover Shs24bn Katosi Rd Money

The Inspector General of Government Justice Irene Mulyagonja has revealed that her office is tracing the 24.7 billion Uganda shillings stolen from the Katosi road project and trying to recover it from the USA.

Mulyagonja told reporters at the closure of the five-day commonwealth anti-corruption heads of agencies in Africa meeting at Lake Victoria Serena on Friday evening that her office was aware part of the money was shipped to the USA.

Last August, Former works minister Abraham Byandala, who was among those accused of abuse of Katosi money, was acquitted by the Anti-Corruption Court of all charges.  

Instead, businessman Apollo Ssenketo was found guilty of theft and then convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison.

Ssenketo had represented a company called Eutaw Construction, a US firm that turned out to be fake, and had been contracted to construct the road in 2014.  

Through the collaboration with the commonwealth partners, Uganda has managed to recover $217000 (819 million Uganda shillings) since 2016 that had been taken out of the country by thieves, according to Patricia Scotland, the secretary general of the secretariat.  

The IGG said it was hard to recover some of the money because of the way thieves push to hide it in complicated structures in tax havens.

On the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s claim that the Inspectorate of Government (IG) had been infiltrated by wrong elements and therefore why he appointed the state house anti-corruption unit, an official in the IGG’s office, who preferred not to be named, told URN it is not true and they prefer state house to give them information on this matter. 

The official said “as the IG, we say give us information and we clean it if you insist we have been infiltrated.”

In their communique, the heads of anti-corruption agencies in Africa called for multi-agency team work in implementation of anti-corruption strategies.

They also requested governments in Europe, America and other jurisdictions to work towards speedy repatriation of recovered assets to African countries. 

Corruptions usually take their loot to the global north where they hide in banks or buying properties.


News Sudan Revolution In New Twist As Generals Reject Civilian Majority

A top official in Sudan’s military council has told the BBC it will not allow civilians a majority on the supreme council set to rule the country during a transitional period.

Lt Gen Salah Abdelkhalek said that an equal share of the membership would be an option they might consider.

Protesters are continuing their mass sit-in outside military HQ to demand that the army cede control.

President Omar al-Bashir was ousted from power on 11 April after 30 years.

He was replaced by a military transitional council that promised to relinquish power to civilians within two years – a proposal rejected by protesters.

Protest leaders accuse the military of not negotiating in good faith and promoting the interests of Mr Bashir.

The military leaders say that they need to be in charge to ensure order and security in the country.

“[It’s] a red line, maybe half and half,” Lt Gen Abdelkhalek told BBC Newsday presenter James Copnall about the military council’s likely compromise.

The seven-member council is led by Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan, who told the BBC last month that he was willing to hand over power if a consensus can be reached with civilian leaders.

Opposition leaders on Thursday sent a draft constitutional document to the military council, outlining their proposals for the transition period.

They say they’re now awaiting a response. The draft document outlines the duties of a new transitional council, but doesn’t specify who would sit on the council.

The African Union revised its 15-day ultimatum set on 15 April for the military leaders to hand over power to civilian rule. They now have 60 days or face suspension from the continental body.



News Western Envoys In Veiled Condemnation Of Uganda Over UCC Orders To Suspend Scribes

The European Union Delegation, the Heads of Mission of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom and the Heads of Mission of Iceland, Japan, Norway, Republic of Korea and United States have expressed concern over Uganda’s treatment of journalists in recent days.

The message is contained in a joint statement issued on Friday, the day the world celebrates World Press Freedom Day and days after the Uganda Communications Communication (UCC) wrote a missive to media houses asking them to suspend staff.

“We are deeply concerned with a series of recent incidents restricting the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly in Uganda. Of particular concern to us is the Uganda Communications Commission’s decision, on April 30, to suspend senior staff members of 13 radio and television stations on allegations of breaching minimum broadcasting standards,” the statement reads in part.

It adds, “We are also concerned about the excessive use of force by Ugandan police and security services against peaceful protesters and political opposition.”  

On Wednesday, UCC ordered for the immediate suspension of 39 producers, heads of programming and heads of news.

Sources say UCC’s orders arose out of the broadcasts about arrest and detention and the subsequent protests on Monday this week. 

On Monday, now popular Kyadondo East lawmaker, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine was arrested, charged and remanded to Luzira Prison over a protest he organised last year.

The EU delegation have since urged Uganda to implement laws guaranteeing freedom of speech and expression.

“We note that Uganda’s Constitution, as well as regional and international standards, guarantees both freedom of speech and expression as well as freedom of assembly. We urge the Government of Uganda to ensure the implementation of all the relevant laws and regulations in a way that allows all Ugandans, regardless of political affiliation, to exercise fully and without fear their basic democratic rights enshrined in the Constitution,” the statement says.

Government is yet to respond to the statement.


News Ex-KCCA ED Musisi Reveals How She Survived Grenade Attack

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Ex-KCCA ED Musisi Reveals How She Survived Grenade Attack

Like most city leaders, Jennifer Musisi, the former municipal head of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, came into office with plans to shake up how local government did business. She wasn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers in order to improve how Uganda’s largest metro area, long plagued by corruption and poor administration, provided services to its one and a half million residents. What she didn’t expect was that her pursuit of greater government efficiency and transparency would result in threats on her life.

“One time a grenade was found under my car,” said Musisi, speaking to a rapt audience at the Ash Center, where she is the inaugural City Leader in Residence with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, which is housed at the Center. “It was shocking to see the extent to which the resistance could go—blow me up because I’m trying to organize the management and finances of the city.”

“Why are they trying to kill me? I’m the good guy here”

In December of last year, Musisi stepped down after almost eight years running the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) where she bolstered city services and overhauled the authority’s finances. “She has a global reputation for strong urban governance, integrity, fighting corruption, organizational leadership, and building service delivery systems in institutions that are crippled by resource constraints and corruption,” said Jorrit de Jong, Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at HKS and faculty director of the Bloomberg Harvard program.

A lawyer by training, Musisi was tapped in 1999 to head up the legal department of the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), the country’s principal tax collection agency, which at the time was rife with corruption and management problems. At the URA, Musisi helped build a team of enthusiastic young civil servants who revamped the agency, ultimately achieving what she termed “an incredible level of tax collection.” She also helped to instill in Ugandans a sense of civic obligation to pay their taxes, which Musisi credited with slashing tax avoidance levels throughout the country.

It’s not surprising that after the task of rebuilding the country’s tax collection systems, Musisi thought perhaps she could look forward to a less stressful private-sector job or even a little extra time off. Half-joking, she said, “I thought it would be time to take early retirement. I’m going to private life, make a little money, and just go to the beach.”

Her long-awaited seaside sojourn, however, was interrupted in 2010, when Uganda’s parliament passed legislation replacing the Kampala City Council with the KCCA. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni asked Musisi if she would take the reins of the newly constituted KCCA as its first executive director, a position akin to that of city manager in many North American municipalities. Musisi recalls, “The president, in his words, said ‘help me sort out Kampala.’”

“I don’t consider myself a technocrat in the real sense of the word. I just want to get things done”

With her background building revenue collection and human resources systems for the URA, Musisi set about overhauling Kampala’s municipal government. Even the seemingly straightforward task of tallying up the number of active city employees proved to be a challenge. “There were almost no records. No one knew how many staff were in the organization. There were some staff on the payroll. Others were not on the payroll. Others were temporary,” Musisi recalled.

Aside from figuring out how many people actually worked for her, Musisi tried tallying up Kampala’s municipal assets—from real estate to bank accounts. “No one knew how many assets the city had, so every other month we would discover another asset. I would write and say, ‘Hey, this belongs to the city, not you. Can we have it back?’” Musisi chuckled, recalling the delicate and sometimes dangerous conversations to reclaim city property. After pressing Uganda’s central bank to conduct an audit of the city’s various bank accounts, bankers found 151 previously unknown accounts belonging to the KCCA, holding over $13 million—a staggering sum for a city that was at the time collecting only $11 million in annual tax revenues. In contrast, Philadelphia, with a roughly equivalent population, collected $4.6 billion in revenues in its most recent fiscal year.

To tackle the city’s financial shortfalls, Musisi terminated contracts with revenue agents who were inefficient but, nonetheless, were given, or took, a cut of the tax proceeds they collected on behalf of the city. Needless to say, the old system bred inefficiency and corruption. In the new system, the KCCA made it easier for residents to pay their tax bills directly through the banks and built a modern revenue management system to help with billing, assessing, and payment.

Musisi also worked to gain the trust of taxpayers, who, after years of mismanagement and corruption, were at first skeptical that her changes would lead to real and meaningful reforms. “We needed to first of all assure the public that we were there to change things for the better, to serve, and that we’re going to be accountable,” said Musisi. Her plan for building public support was simple: “We worked to make everybody pay and show how those taxes were being used to improve city services.” Five years after Musisi shook up the city’s tax collection system, revenue growth was up over 190 percent. “Because this revenue was coming in, we were able to do more for the public.”

While Musisi’s reforms resulted in a growing municipal budget and improved services for everyday Kampala residents, those who previously benefited from the city’s archaic and corrupt tax collection system did not relinquish the status quo easily. “The agents that were collecting taxes for the city were very powerful… and had been collecting the taxes for decades. They felt an entitlement,” said Musisi, looking back at the fight she knew was brewing with beneficiaries of Kampala’s history of corruption and patronage. “They thought I was joking.”

It quickly became clear, however, that Musisi was not joking. The revenue agents responded by threatening to take her to court. “Go ahead. I think the law is on my side,” she said. It was, and Musisi and her team soldiered on. When legal challenges failed, “then they started mobilizing the public not to pay because they said we are going to steal the money anyway because it’s always been stolen,” Musisi recalled. “We kept telling the public, “This is what we collected. This is what we used it for.” It worked, and revenue collection numbers increased as Kampala taxpayers were swayed by the KCCA’s transparency and competence in administering city services.

The revenue agents, loath to lose their cut of the city’s taxes, next turned to graft, assuming that Musisi and her colleagues would rather line their own pockets and backtrack on their reforms. “They offered me huge bribes, really huge bribes. I said, ‘I always said I don’t do bribes.’”

“Then they started threatening our lives,” she said. “Why are they trying to kill me? I’m the good guy here. It was shocking to see the extent to which it could go, with violent attacks targeting my staff because we’re trying to organize the finances of the city.” Her colleagues had guns pulled on them, their homes invaded. Security for Musisi and her team was increased. She told a shaken staff that this was their opportunity to transform Kampala for the better. “The bad guys can’t win. That was what kept us going.”

“She went straight for the most critical function of government,” remarked de Jong, referring to Musisi’s decision, after taking the reins of the KCCA, to forgo scoring easy political wins and instead tackle a complex structural issue such as revenue reform. “Without revenues, you can’t do anything, and without addressing the corruption you can never build trust,” he added. Without an increase in revenue, Musisi would never have the funding necessary to address the city’s infrastructure problems, build and renovate schools, improve the quality of public health care, or fix the litany of other urban ails that plagued Kampala. “We knew that without funding we could not do much, and with that funding we could really get the low hanging fruit, begin fixing the city.”

Musisi has been hailed as an “incorruptible technocrat” by Uganda’s press for reforming Kampala’s municipal tax collection and procurement policies, but she bristles at the characterization. “I don’t consider myself a technocrat in the real sense of the word. I just want to get things done.” De Jong agrees, “I don’t think the technocrat term really applies because she knew what the tools of government were, how they worked… but a large part of this work of innovation is building trust with the community. It’s that trust that Musisi instilled by standing up to threats and bribes, and by showing residents of Kampala how their hard-earned tax dollars were being used to help improve the city.” Musisi added, “When you have a desire to get things done, you just begin to innovate because you’re looking at the end and then working through whatever you need to work through to reach that end.”

News ‘It’s Cowardly,’ Museveni Says As He Rubbishes Western Sanctions On Zimbabwe

President Museveni attended and presided over as chief guest at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo stadium, Bulawayo city.

He toured several stalls and exhibitions with variety of products made locally by Zimbabweans.

He also awarded the best farmers at the exhibition, presented a trophy to Zimbabwe Police and Defence forces respectively for their excellent displays.

Speaking to the crowd in Bulawayo Stadium, Museveni called for African Unity and lambasted the idea of sanctions by external forces as ‘cowardly’.

“Why put sanctions? When somebody is wrong, leave him; they will fail by their own mistakes. When you put sanctions on them, that means you are not sure of them. I appeal for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe,” he said.

“Also this is a problem of us Africans, we don’t work closely together. If somebody puts sanctions on one of us, we also put sanctions on them. I don’t agree with those who say Africa is much weaker to work together. OAU and the frontline countries worked together to support the struggles for freedom in South Africa. If we discussed closely and cognately we can have a greater impact,” he said.

He revealed that he and his Zimbabwean counterpart President Mnangangwa discussed the issue of exporting raw materials.

“This issue of production and exporting raw materials is costing us. Only 30% is retained while 70% is exported. This means exporting jobs and incomes. Export of raw materials is a challenge,” he said.

He gave the example of a country losing jobs and income through the export of unprocessed cotton. He observed that when the product is exported in its raw form, it fetches only US $ 1 as compared to a price of US $ 16 per Kg of the processed cotton products.

“But be of good cheer, don’t be discouraged. If we move together, we can move further,” he said.