The Hot Sheet: This Week in Ugandan News

Sunday, December 19, 2010
By ugandansabroad

We know the Ugandan diaspora is very busy, and can’t always follow the news back home.  But here are the top stories that Ugandans Abroad has been watching this week.

1) Traditional leaders. The Ugandan government introduced a bill on Uganda’s traditional leaders, through the cultural state minister Lukia Nakadama on Friday.  The bill gives all recognized traditional leaders a four-wheel drive car, an escort vehicle, and tax-free allowances of sh5million a month.  The government will also cover the burial expenses of traditional leaders and their families when they die.

A new cultural bill will describe the role that leaders like the Kabaka can play in Ugandan society. Edward Echwalu.

Traditional leaders are banned from supporting opposition parties, and forbidden from dealing with foreign government, unless approval is given by the minister for foreign affairs.  Cultural leaders cannot call upon the public to support individual politicians, and will not be allowed to make statements against the government.
Local governments will also be empowered to recognize traditional leaders in district and sub-counties.  If cultural heads violate the proposed law, they would be imprisoned.  Mengo has condemned the legislation, and the Buganda Conference, held at Hotel Africana,passed a resolution against the bill, saying it will interfere with the cultural kingdom’s activities.

2) Janet Museveni Faces Ruzindana In Ruhaama MP Seat. First Lady Janet Museveni faces three contenders for the MP seat for Ruhaama, including Augustine Ruzindana, the former inspector general for the government.  Ruzindana lost to the first lady in 2006, but says he is confident he has more popular support this time.  Mrs. Museveni is campaigning on fighting malaria and preventing HIV/AIDS in the district.  She is also the state minister for Karamoja Affairs.

3) One in four Ugandans going hungry? 25 percent of Ugandans reported that they went without food several times this year, according to a study of 2,000 Ugandans in different regions done by Afrobarometer, an African-led series of national public attitude surveys throughout the continent.  Northern and Eastern Ugandans experienced the most hunger, but 34 percent of those surveyed in Kampala said they went without food at least twice in the past year, New Vision reported.  27 percent of rural Ugandans said they were forced to go without medical treatment in the past year, as well as 10 percent of those living in urban areas.  The majority of Ugandans surveyed said the economy had done badly in the past year, but 41 percent said it was fairly good.  28 percent said it had improved.

4) Student Loans Finally in Uganda? Next year, the government will launch a student loan scheme for student who don’t receive government sponsorship for study at public universities in June 2011.  The government currently sponsors 4000 students per year in five public universities, but thousands of students are left out.  Students will be expected to pay back the money after graduating.

Uganda is receiving a great deal of foreign investment from China, the U.K. and India. Edward Echwalu.

5) Over $1.7 billion invested in Uganda. This year, China directly invested $276 million in Uganda, and India invested $149 million, according to the Uganda Investment Authority.  China is the primary source of foreign direct investment in Uganda, followed by the U.K.  Between January and November of this year, the Uganda Investment Authority licensed 313 projects worth $1.7 billion, which plan to create 149,709 jobs.  27 percent of all foreign direct inflows in East Africa went to Uganda.

6) Donate To IPC Via Cell Phone. Last week, Dr. Kizza Besigye asked opposition supporters to give sh500whenever they can to the Interparty Cooperation, mimicking President Obama’s broad 2008 campaign fundraising strategy, which drew upon many small donors.  Supporters can donate the sh500 on their mobile phones, sending money to 0776433555 on MTN, 0756755555 on Airtel, and 0718932055 on UTL.  According to reporting by the Independent, Besigye received 2,592,954 votes in 2006. If each of them contributed Shs500 every week, it would translate into over sh5billion a month.

“A supporter who makes a financial contribution will not be easily bought off or intimidated. You will have become an investor in the struggle for change,” Besigye said.  Ugandans in the diaspora can donate money through sendairtime.com to the mobile numbers above.

7) Wal-mart To Buy Game? Wal-mart, an American company and the world’s largest public corporation by revenue, wants to acquire a 51 percent stake in the South Africa-based Massmart Holdings.  The company has 287 stores in 13 African countries, including the Game store in Kampala.

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