Crime & Investigation

Uganda Fights Back in Espionage Storm

Shaban Bantariza

A rapid rise in population has led to an increase in the overall number of the poor in Africa, dosage the World Bank said in a report released on Friday.

However the report further says Africa’s strong economic growth has contributed to improving people’s health and education in the past 20 years as well as major reductions in poverty in several countries.

The report, online titled “Poverty in a Rising Africa”, estimates that 388 million people – or 43 percent of all people living in Sub-Saharan Africa – lived in extreme poverty in 2012, a decrease of five million people from 2011.

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In a separate report, the Global Monitoring Report, released earlier this month, the World Bank projected that 347 million people are living in extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa this year. While the percentage of Africans living in poverty has decreased over time, the sheer numbers have grown. An estimated 284 million Africans lived in poverty in 1990.

The report called for much better measurement of poverty, saying that data gaps make it extremely difficult for policy makers to target programs for the poor.

The report revealed that the progress in ending poverty in all its forms has varied greatly across countries and population groups, with the levels of achievement remaining enchantingly low.

“Africa’s economy is on the rise, but to avoid bypassing vulnerable people – whether in rural areas or in fragile states – we must improve how we measure human progress. Better data will tell us whether we’re delivering effective programs that will help end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity among the poorest,” said Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President.

Africa posted the slowest rate of poverty reduction of all major developing regions, with the share of people living in extreme poverty (less than $1.9 a day) declining only slightly, from 56 percent in 1990 to 43 percent in 2012. But since 2012, extreme poverty fell to a projected 35 percent in 2015 in the region, based on the World Bank’s new poverty line of $1.9 a day.

Globally, the percentage of people living in extreme poverty will likely fall to under 10 percent for the first time, to 9.6 percent this year, according to Bank estimates released earlier this month.

Despite progress, more than 100 million more Africans lived in extreme poverty in 2012 compared to 1990, with at least 20 percent of the population estimated to be chronically poor.

Africa’s extreme poor live mainly in rural areas (home to 65-70 percent of the population), while the highest levels of inequality are recorded in Southern Africa, where six of the world’s 10 most unequal countries are located.

Conflict and violence are among the most important factors slowing economic growth or even reversing development gains.

Makhtar Diop, World Bank vice president for Africa, said, “The human toll of poverty in Africa remains unacceptably high. With the new target set by the Sustainable Development Goals to end extreme poverty by 2030, much more work is needed to accelerate poverty reduction.”

“In particular, significant efforts must be made to boost productivity in agriculture, a sector that still employs most of the region’s poorest, and increase access to affordable and reliable electricity,” Diop added.
At least 108 UPDF troops have flown to South Africa for an African Union training exercise code named “EXERCISE AMANI AFRICA II” that will run from October 19, buy 2015 to November 7, this 2015.

AMANI AFRICA is a Kiswahili phrase meaning “Peace in Africa”. Officials said the Exercise is aimed at evaluating the state of readiness of the African Standby Force (ASF) and to exercise its Rapid Deployment Capability (RDC), decease in order to ascertain gaps and requirements for achieving Full Operational Capability (FOC) of the ASF by December 2015.

The Exercise will be conducted at the South African Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) located at Lohathla, Northern Cape. Approximately 5,400 members from the military, police and civilian components representing four of the Regional Economic Regions of the AU will participate in the exercise.

According to the Host Nation (South Africa), the Troop Contributing Countries that have confirmed participation in the exercise are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Other contributing and/or participating countries involved in the exercise are Algeria, Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda.

UPDF Spokesperson Lt Col Paddy Ankunda said “the exercise, based on a scenario created in a fictitious country named the Republic of Carana, will begin with a Rapid Deployment Capability of ASF as a start-up operation and then run a full multi-dimensional Peace Support Operation.”

Col Michael Kabango who is commanding the Ugandan Contingent shed more light on the operation: “By the close of the exercise, our troops will be better skilled on crises response, managing the Challenges and Constraints of a deployed mission, adapting to a mandate change, and setting conditions for long-term solutions.”

He added: “They will be better actors in Stability Operations, promoting Rule of Law, Humanitarian Operations and on Governance and Development among others.”

This exercise follows AMANI AFRICA 1, the first continental Exercise to evaluate the operational readiness of the ASF which was conducted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in October 2010.

Lt Col Ankunda said the African Standby Force is part of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) that divides Africa into Regional Economic Communities (RECs) that are supposed to develop regional security forces and mechanisms to respond to crises and conflict in their specific regions.

These are Eastern African Standby Force (EASF), North African Regional Capacity, ECOWAS Standby Force, ECCAS Standby Force and SADC Standby Brigade.
The government of Uganda has described as “baseless” and “fictious”, check the report aired by the British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) implicating government in spying on opposition politicians, troche businessmen and journalists.

The report also published by NGO Privacy International, cure alleged that government bought surveillance equipment from a UK-based firm (Gamma Group) to monitor, suppress and crush the Ugandan Opposition politicians and the media under an operation code named ‘Fungua Macho’.

The government Deputy Spokesperson, Col Shaban Bantariza told the press at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala on Friday that the contents of the reports are outright “fallacious, misleading and with a hidden intent to malign the Uganda government” and its security agencies.

“Operation Fungua Macho is unknown to have been undertaken before, during or after the time period in reference to their report, which is the 2011 Kampala riots of Walk to Work,” Bantariza assured the media.

“We as government find it very unfortunate that a respectable media house like BBC is said to have worked in collaboration with this NGO to publish a false and malicious report without courtesy to cross check and verify the authenticity of the allegations with us as journalistic, ethical and accurate reporting enjoins on all those in the journalism profession,” Bantariza wondered.

He further added that it is further unfortunate that government’s input in the story that was run by BBC was simply a comment on the report.

“As government we were not contacted during the formulation of the report. I was personally interviewed just to give a comment on the report.”

Privacy International claims the tool chosen as the ‘backbone’ of the operation, FinFisher, is intrusion malware at the time manufactured by the Gamma Group of companies, headquartered in the UK.

“Once infected, a person’s computer or phone can be remotely monitored in real time. Activities on the device become visible. Passwords, files, microphones and cameras can be viewed and manipulated without the target’s knowledge,” reads part of the report by Privacy International on October 16.

It further claims that over a period of 2011 to 2013, at least 73 people were involved in the operation targeting key opposition leaders, media and establishment insiders.

Operatives reportedly bribed people close to their targets to get access to personal phones and computers on which they installed the malware, according to an alleged confidential intelligence brief prepared for President Museveni.


Bantariza observed that the world must understand that political opposition in Uganda is not at all perceived as enemies to the government.

“Procuring surveillance equipment to spy on opposition politicians would be a waste of funds since getting any information regarding their activities though human surveillance would be enough.”

He however noted that the Ugandan State has a constitutional mandate and responsibility to defend and protect its citizens and any security activity can only be directed at the role and purpose without prejudice to anyone’s legitimate and innocent rights.

According to Privacy International, Covert FinFisher ‘access points’ in the form of fake Local Area Networks (LANs) were installed within Parliament and key Government institutions.

Actual and suspected Government opponents were alleged targeted in their homes while fake LANs and wireless hotspots were set up in apartment estates and neighbourhoods where many wealthy Ugandans and expatriates live.

It claims several hotels were also prepared to allow for infection of Operation Fungua Macho’s targets.


Bantariza denied government’s surveillance of Col. Kizza Besigye’s activities, urging him to report to the available courts of law for infringement of his rights.

“If there are any contradictions between political actors and custodians of law and order, there are both political and legal mechanisms to address these issues,” said Bantariza.

“Any Ugandan however who may get into temptation to engage in any criminal activities can be dealt with available and appropriate means within the law.”


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