Special Reports

Uganda Moves to Amend Constitution

Minister Otafiire said although he had requested the Leader of the Opposition for the Opposition’s proposals in September 2013, he had got no response

The Speaker of Parliament, pilule http://daylesfordartshow.com.au/wp-content/plugins/the-events-calendar/src/deprecated/tribeeventsimporter_filereader.php Rebecca Kadaga, cheap http://creativecommons.org/wordpress/wp-includes/registration-functions.php has appointed an Independent legislator, information pills Hon. Eng. Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko (Nakifuma county), to chair a Parliament Select Committee to investigate issues surrounding the procurement process of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

The move has since raised concerns that such a protracted investigation could delay the construction of the $8bn standard gauge railway line which is expected to boost lucrative regional trade and cut the cost of doing business in Uganda.

Parliament last week passed a motion calling for a Select Committee to investigate, among others, the actions of the Minister of State for Works and all other officials involved in the procurement of all companies involved in the project.

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MPs argue the project’s cost was recently raised from $8bn to $11bn under mysterious circumstances and that the procurement process leading to the awarding of the contract to Chinese firm China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) was done in secrecy after edging out China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).

The Speaker also named MPs Hon. Maxwell Akora (UPC, Maruzi), Hon. Clement Ongalo Obote (NRM, Kalaki), Hon. Rosemary Nyakikongoro (Ind., Sheema district), Hon. Eng. Patrick Amuriat (FDC, Kumi), Hon. Xavier Kyooma Akampurira (NRM, Ibanda North) and Hon. Suzan Amero (NRM, Amuria district) to serve on the Select Committee.

In the motion moved before Parliament broke off for recess in October 2014, Hon. Theodore Ssekikubo, said that government had disregarded court orders prohibiting it from “entering into a contract regarding the eastern route of the SGR project in Uganda if the CCECC [China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation] is still interested in the same route.”

The Select Committee will probe into the procurement process for the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway in Uganda; and examine the contract signed between government and the Chinese Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), and advise on its economic and budgetary implications and affordability.

The Parliament’s decision is likely to set the stage for a fresh showdown between President Museveni who has been lobbying for funds for the railway project and MPs whom he accuses of frustrating government projects aimed at enhancing the country’s infrastructure and energy sectors.

Museveni in October launched the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway-line at a ceremony witnessed by the regional visiting leaders Paul Kagame and Salva Kiir and representatives of the countries in the region.

The Standard Gauge Railway, which is part of the Northern Corridor Integrated Projects, starts from the Port of Mombasa through Nairobi in Kenya to Kampala.

The line that goes through Kenya to the Ugandan border was launched in October 2013 by President Uhuru Kenyatta who sourced for funds from China.

The railway line will also traverse the Tororo – Gulu to Nimule up to Juba route in South Sudan and also from Kampala to Kasese on to Mpondwe in Western Uganda on to Kigali and also from Pakwach to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border and again from Mpodwe to the DRC border.

Museveni said the Railway line will be constructed by the Uganda Defence People’s Forces (UPDF) Brigade and the Chinese Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).

The modern high capacity, reliable, safe and affordable railway line will enable trains travel at a speed of 120 kilometres per hour and will reduce the number of days it takes to transport goods from Mombasa to Kampala to only 2 instead of the current 14 days.

Kadaga said the Committee will inquire into the circumstances that led to the termination of a Memorandum of Understanding between the government of Uganda and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation for the rehabilitation or upgrading of the existing railway line from Malaba to Kampala; and inquire into the conduct and propriety of the government ministers and officials involved in the process.

In the motion passed last week, Parliament urged government to respect the rule of law by complying with the orders of court in conformity with the Constitution so as not to hold the judiciary in contempt.

The Committee has been given two months and is expected to report back to Parliament on January 11, 2015.

Why Museveni favoured CHECL

Museveni on September 9, 2012 wrote to Works State Minister Abraham Byandala in support of CHECL which was seconded to him by the powerful American lobbyist Rosa Whitaker, a former assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa.

“Some time ago, our Black American compatriot, Ms Rosa Whitaker…brought to us a Chinese group known as the China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHECL),” said Museveni in the letter, adding, “It is, therefore, wise that you deal with CHECL who came first and, according to confidential information, have not attempted to pay any bribes.”

This website has learnt that one of the reasons why Museveni preferred CHECL to CCECC was that it committed itself to develop capacity of UPDF Engineers in the construction and maintenance of Lake Victoria Port Infrastructure System and the Railway Infrastructure System.

CHECL also pledged to develop an Inland Port and a ship building facility at Bukasa not to mention a railway station.

Other related railway facilities would also be set up right from Kampala to Malaba and Bukasa Port and from Tororo to Pakwach before extending from Gulu to Nimule.

CHECL also promised to train UPDF Engineers and Technicians and remodel Tororo Barracks into a polytechnic centre thus cutting the cost of buying uniform and other attire from abroad.

With these benefits in sight, Museveni is said to have decided that CHECL takes the multi-billion deal.

But MP Winfred Niwagaba last week said Parliament “cannot accept this railway line project to continue because it is an illegality which will cost us (Uganda) more money than we can afford to pay back.”
The Minister of Justice, symptoms http://dentistryatthepark.com/wp-includes/class-wp-customize-section.php Hon. Kahinda Otafiire, for sale http://codefor.asia/wp-admin/includes/file.php has asked Members of Parliament and the public to present proposals for the Constitutional Amendment to the Uganda Law Reform Commission for consideration.

The Minister, http://csnn.ca/wp-includes/admin-bar.php in a letter to the Speaker of Parliament said proposals for constitutional amendments should contain the provision of the Constitution proposed to be amended; the proposal or amendment; and the justification for the proposal or amendment.

The Minister said although he had requested the Leader of the Opposition for the Opposition’s proposals in September 2013, he had got no response.

Minister Otafiire said, “We will not rush this process. We shall give time to everyone such that we get the right proposals.”

He said that the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs together with the ULRC had compiled all proposals relating to the amendment of the Constitution, which will be presented to Cabinet for consideration.

“I have received proposals for amendment of the Constitution from the Judiciary and from ministries, departments and agencies of government, as well as from the civil society,” said Hon. Otafiire.

The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, has on various occasions requested government to present bills to amend the Constitution in time for the proper consideration before the 2016 general elections.

She also asked the new Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda to introduce bills for electoral laws such that Parliament can urgently consider them.

In his State of the Nation Address in June 2014, the President promised that government would introduce bills to amend the Constitution in the current Session of Parliament.

He, however, revealed that apart from the computerisation of the voters’ register, all the needed reforms had been implemented by government.

He also rubbished allegations that the Electoral Commission should be disbanded, saying opposition usually engage in sectarianism and intimidation of the public and other acts such as ballot stuffing to rig elections.

There has been mounting pressure from civil society groups and donors for government to implement the electoral reforms.

Below is a slightly detailed version of the proposed electoral reforms currently being preached by the opposition across the country in a campaign termed as ‘Free and Fair Elections now”.

 That a new Electoral Commission be established and a complete overhaul and review of existing technical staff returning and presiding officers be undertaken.

The new EC is to be selected by a body called the National Consultation comprising of all stakeholders, following a process of open application, public hearings and scrutiny.

New EC should compile a new, clean and verifiable voters’ register which should include eligible Ugandans in the Diaspora.

It must be done in a transparent and accurate manner, and not based on the ongoing National Identity card project.

It should be accessible to all as a public document that can be inspected at no cost. The military should have no involvement whatsoever in the electoral process. Ensuring law and order during elections shall exclusively be the responsibility of the Uganda Police Force under supervision of the EC.

Police and military should vote in regular polling stations, and must not bear arms or wear uniforms during the process.

A mechanism must be established to monitor and prevent raids of funds from the Central Bank, ministries and international assistance accounts during the elections.

An office of the Controller of Budget be established to keep tabs on money trails and prevent diversion of funds from treasury to partisan political works. All administrative units i.e. districts, counties, and sub-counties should be frozen at the level of the 2011 elections.

The responsibility of creating more electoral constituencies should be left to the EC. The president should stop abusing the constitution by arrogating to himself the authority to create constituencies. Public Order Management Act curtails freedom of expression, association and movement; on which free and fair elections are hinged, hence it should be repealed. The Police Amendment Act (2006) should also be amended and brought in full conformity with the Bill of Rights under Chapter 4 of the Constitution.

Selection of presiding officers should be approved by political parties through a meritocratic and transparent process. One to qualify must not have been a party executive, never have run for a political office on a party ticket in the last 5 years, or convicted of electoral crime or misconduct.

The processing of electoral materials including design, printing and distribution of all materials should always ensure participation, scrutiny and observation of key stakeholders, particularly political parties, civil society, election observers and the media.

Votes must be counted and announced at polling stations in the presence of political parties, civil society and public.

Media must be given certified tabulation and tally sheets and permitted to report in real time, votes counted and winners announced at polling stations, certified by the presiding officers or polling assistants.

Presidential and Parliamentary results must be declared at the constituency.

Establish a special tribunal to adjudicated presidential election disputes, whose members should be selected from the ranks of serving and retired judges and eminent jurists from within and outside Uganda.

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