YEAR IN REVIEW: 2023 A Look Back

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YEAR IN REVIEW: 2023 A Look Back
Ugandan President Museveni takes notes

As the year 2023 comes to a close, Nile Post looks back at some of the new stories and events that shook the media and shaped public opinion throughout the year.

MPs Allan Sewanyana and Muhammad Segirinya released from prison. 

The country began under intense political pressure from both the government and the opposition, as is customary. The opposition party NUP had ended 2022 by demanding that the government release two of their MPs, Allan Sewanyana of Makindye West and Muhammad Segirinya of Kawempe North.

Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana at Parliament after being released

The duo had been imprisoned for more than a year on 26 charges of murder committed by panga welding thugs in Masaka district in 2021.

On February 13, 2023, after exactly 524 days, the imprisoned MPs were released after justice Lawrence Tweyanze granted them bail after several failed previous attempts, including one in which they were rearrested as they left Kigo prison. Both have since returned to parliament and are currently serving their constituents.

Keith Muhakanizi dies at 64

At the age of 64, Keith Muhakanizi, one of the longest serving technocrats died on April 14.

The former Permanent Secretary in the office of the Prime Minister and former Secretary to the Treasury died in Milan after battling cancer for a long time.

Keith Muhakanizi

He served as a member of board in several organizations. He served on the board of Bank of Uganda, he was the chairman of the the board of East African Development Bank, Housing Finance Bank and many more.

Many people described him as a true public servant, economist, strict manager and parent.

NSSF Saga

Still in the first quarter of this year, public attention was drawn to a saga at the National Society Security Fund (NSSF) involving then-managing director Richard Byarugaba and the Minister of Gender, Labour and Youth Development, Betty Amongi.

Richard Byarugaba allegedly refused to release 6 billion shillings from the fund to the minister's office for activities to drive the implementation of the new NSSF law with the goal of expanding coverage and ensuring compliance.

Amongi faced off with Byarugaba

As the fallout grew, the minister also declined to renew Byarugaba's contract while renewing the contract of his deputy, Patrick Ayota, who is the same age as Richard.

The minister also mobilized more than 100 workers who signed a 22-page petition to the President and herself, requesting that an investigation is carried out into Byarugaba’s management of NSSF projects, illegalities, and the way contracts and procurement were being made.

Byarugaba was sacked and replaced by his deputy Patrick Ayota.

Gun violence

As is customary, 2023 has been a year of increased gun violence as one of the top crimes committed in the country. This type of crime was once again at its peak.

This year, police officers, UPDF soldiers, and private security guards were involved in a number of shootings, the majority of which were motivated by crime and others by rage and anger.

Although this year has seen a spike in gun violence, let us focus on just three incidents that have shook the country.

 

Minister Charles Engola shot dead by his bodyguard

The state minister of Labour, Col (Rtd) Charles Engola, was shot dead by his bodyguard on May 2 at his residence in Kyanja, a Kampala suburb, just a day after he moderated International Labour Day celebrations in Namutumba district.

Charles Engola

Private Wilson Sabiti shot his boss at close range as he was getting into his car to drive to work under mysterious circumstances. In addition, he injured Ronald Otis, the minister's ADC.

The late Charles Engola was also the Oyam North Constituency Member of Parliament in the Oyam district.

 

Blogger Isma Olaxes shot dead

While the country was still mourning the late minister, unknown assailants struck again, this time shooting a well-known blogger named Tusubira Ibrahim alias Isma Olaxes alias Jaja Ichuli.

Jaja Ichuli, 48, was killed by an unknown gunman who shot him at close range with a pistol as he returned to his home at around 9 p.m. on May 6 in Kyanja Central zone, Nakawa division, Kampala city.

Blogger Isma Olaxes

Because he was a controversial blogger who commented on what some people considered sensitive issues, his shooting elicited mixed reactions from the public.

His assailants have not been identified upto date as investigations continue.

 

Indian money lender shot dead by policeman on parliamentary avenue

At the height of gun violence this year, a police officer shot and killed an Indian businessman in Kampala's Raja Chambers, which was surrounded by CCTV cameras.

After a disagreement over a loan payment, Police Constable Ivan Wabwire, who was assigned to the Kampala CPS, shot and killed an Indian money lender named Uttam Bhandari at his offices on May 12.

He returned the gun to his work station after committing the crime and fled to his ancestral village in Bwalila, Musanyi sub county in Busia district, where he was apprehended.

Before he was arraigned in a court of law, his mental capabilities were tested, and it was determined that he was sane.

 

Somalia: Al Shabab terrorists kill 54 UPDF soldiers in an attack

At the dawn of May 26, The UPDF army serving under the African Union Transition Mission ( ATMIS) in Somalia were attacked and a total of 54 soldiers were killed including some commanders.

This attack on the UPDF Foward Operating Base (FOB) happened at Bulo Marer, Lower Shebelle region 130km South of Mogadishu.

President Museveni who is the Commander in Chief of Armed Forces, attributed this to a mistake by two commanders identified as Maj Oluka and Maj Obbo who ordred the soldiers to run away.

The two have been charged to the court martial and dismissed from the army.

 

Iron Sheets Scandal

For sometime this year, the media was awash with yet another news about the iron sheets scandal. This scandal saw many cabinet ministers and senior government officials implicated in the theft and diversion of tones of iron sheets meant for Karamoja relief program.

Judge, lawyers and witnesses examine the stolen iron sheets

According to president Museveni , the iron sheets were meant for the Karachuna as part of government efforts to fight insecurity in the Karamoja sub-region and therefore those involved in stealing them were involved in subversive activities.

He also ordered police to carry out investigations and the implicated ministers to be be arrested and charged to courts of law.

“Those ministers are undermining security in exchange for cheap popularity. Under the NRA code, cheap popularity is characterized as subversive. The ministers that were therefore , consciously involved in this must take personal responsibility, pay back the value of the mabaati they diverted and I will decide on the political action to punish this mistake,” Museveni said.

Both ministers for Karamoja Goretti Kitutu and Agnes Nantudu were arrested and charged including the state minister for finance Amos Lugolobi well us others returned the misappropriated iron sheets.

If the president’s word is to go by, the ministers who used the Karamoja iron sheets for their personal gain will also face axe from cabinet.

 

Museveni’s approval of the tough anti LGBT law

After parliament modification of the anti homosexuality bill amidst threats for sanctions from the west, President Museveni also went ahead and signed it into law.

This new legislation has been described by the west as the world's strictest anti-homosexuality law, drawing widespread condemnation internationally.

Museveni signs

The bill signed by President Museveni does not criminalise LGBTQ people, which was a major concern for campaigners who called an earlier draftof the legislation an egregious assault on human rights.

However, the new law retains the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," which is defined as sexual relations involving people infected with HIV, as well as minors and other vulnerable people.

According to the law, a suspect convicted of "attempted aggravated homosexuality" can be imprisoned for up to 14 years.

 

42 students killed as ADF rebels attack Lhubiriha Secondary school in Mpondwe

In June, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) brought back the dark memories of the 1998 attack on Kichwamba Technical Institute in Kabarole district by attacking yet another school.

On June 16, around 11:30 p.m., the same rebel group attacked Lhubiriha Secondary School in Mpondwe, Kasese district, massacred 25 students on the spot, injuring others who died from hospital, and set fire to the dormitory. They also stole food from a school located 2 kilometres from DRC.

A survivor of the school attack in Kasese

Some victims were were burnt beyond recognition which required police to carry out DNA testing before handing over the bodies to their respective relatives.

Investigations into the attack is still underway and at least 20 suspected ADF collaborators have been arrested in connection to the attack. Amongst them is the director and head teacher of the school.

 

President Museveni Castigates the West at Russia-Africa Summit 2023

Once again, President Museveni was invited by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to attend the second Russia-Africa Summit 2023 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

African leaders with Putin

While at the summit, President Museveni advised countries, organizations and people that are in a culture of fomenting, sponsoring and promoting un-justified, opportunistic wars, terrorism and criminality both on the African continent and in the entire world to stop it.

He told them to stop it because they are wasting their time as history has proved that humanity has overcome all forms of injustices that have come their way over years.

He said that fighting an unjust war is a waste of time and even if the perpetrator comes out victorious, the gains of such a war are likely to be very temporary hence advising people in the modern times to explore dialogue to solve the existing issues in society instead of always looking at violence as the only way to solve human disagreements.

“You cannot win an unjustifiable war and history has proved that. Humanity will overcome it ultimately. Historically the religious wars in Europe and the fight between the feudalists and the emergence of capitalism in Europe are a historic testimony because they were justified and of a right cause; humanity came out victorious beyond all odds,” the President told the delegates.

He castigated forces in Africa and foreign countries that are in a culture of overthrowing legitimate and democratically elected governments in Africa, the recent one having taken place in Niger, an act he said was shameful in the modern era.

President Museveni further used the occasion to call upon Russia and other developed allies of Africa to help the continent do away with exportation of raw materials by supporting the continent’s industrialization agenda.

He referred to exportation of raw material as “modern slavery and the remaining major bottleneck of neo-colonialism”.

He explained that whereas the global coffee business annually is 460 billion US dollars, the world coffee producing countries’ share is only 25 billion US dollars while the entire continent of Africa with many coffee producing countries get a mere 2.5 billion US dollars due to the exportation of un processed coffee.

He said that African allies can even ban the importation of raw materials from Africa to their countries to encourage industrialists to invest on the continent which he said would boost people’s income, enhance the population’s purchasing power and provide a market for the industrialists.

In his remarks, the Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia has at all times been an ally of Africa from her independence struggle and is on record to have never attempted to plunder any part of Africa but rather have contributed to the development of the continent.

He added that Russia has at all-time been monitoring with interest the plight of Africa in areas of security, economic exploitation and humanitarian issues and said that the country has always and will continue working with Africa in these areas in line with the United Nations charter.

President Putin added that Russia and Africa are united in the fight against terrorism, climate change and the imposition of unilateral sanctions by self-seeking nations.

“Some countries have become the founders and interpreters of international laws and just use them for their own benefit and this is unacceptable,” President Putin said.

 

FDC Party saga

The year 2023 will also be remembered as the year that the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), one of Uganda's most powerful opposition parties, imploded as a result of the controversial funds spent during the 2021 general elections.

Clockwise Besigye, Ssemujju, Amuriat and Mafabi fighing over FDC

This saga erupted into a split in the party, with one faction led by party president Patrick Amuriat Oboi and his Secretary General Nandala Mafabi, and the other at Katonga Road led by four-time presidential candidate Kizza Besigye.

Ibrahim Semijju Nganda, the opposition whip in parliament, was sacked as a result of the FDC split and was replaced by Mawokota South MP Yusuf Nsibambi.

 

NUP country wide tours

Two years after the 2021 general elections, the leader of the current opposition party in Uganda, Robert Kyagulanyi, announced a nationwide tour beginning in August to open party offices and mobilise support across the country.

Initially, the public was sceptical about whether the government and security agencies would allow the tours to take place, but the arrangements were later given the green light and could be allowed.

Opposition leaders Mathias Mpuuga and Bobi Wine atop a vehicle

The former presidential candidate conducted the first round of his tours and crowd processions across various districts as planned until the last district (Luwero) when authorities suspended them.

Police claimed in a strongly worded statement issued by the deputy Inspector General of Police, Maj Gen Tumusiime Katsigazi, that NUP president Robert Kyagulanyi had violated previously agreed-upon guidelines ahead of his tours.

"We are sending this strong message, that our country, Uganda, will not wait for its villages, towns, urban centres and cities to burn, before taking action to protect its citizens and property. We are going to put an end to the mob mentality, bullying and intimidation tactics of NUP radicals, against innocent civilians and law enforcers," said Katsigazi in a statement

According to police, the mobilisation activities, particularly in the Kasana-Luweero district, were "used to incite violence, promote sectarianism, make illegitimate calls for the removal of an elected, and the issuance of defamatory statements against the person of HE The President of the Republic of Uganda."

While in Luweero, Kyagulanyi challenged the locals to take responsibility and depose President Museveni's government, claiming that they were the ones who brought the NRA/M to power, which he accused of impoverishing Ugandans over the last 40 years. Before assuming power in 1986, Museveni launched a protracted 5-year bush war in Luweero.

He also questioned the NRM government's alleged tribalism and nepotism against the general populace. He also stated that he had received intelligence that the state was planning to assassinate him, but he urged the people to avenge his death if this were to occur.

He could later travel to the United States and South Africa, where he announced a one million match from Kampala to Entebbe by his supporters, but upon his return to the country, he was arrested and driven to his home, and the nationwide tours have not resumed since.

 

Kato Lubwama’s death, arrival of Alien Skin and the battle of Sheebah and Cindy

Turning the spotlight on the entertainment industry, Kato Lubwama, a longtime drama actor, passed away.

Lubwama was a well-known figure in Uganda for more than three decades, having established himself as a successful dramatist.

Friends for life: Muhammad Nsereko (left) with Kato Lubwama (right)

Lubwama dabbled in music before settling into a career as an actor, standup comedian, and radio personality.

On June 7, Kato Lubwama died of a heart attack at a Stana medical centre in Bunamwaya, Kampala. He was later buried in Mpigi district.

On the other hand, the industry received yet another newcomer, Patrick Mulwana alias Alien Skin, who swept the industry by storm.

Mulwana, 27, claimed that he was inspired to join the industry by a number of Ugandan musicians, including Pallaso and Eddy Kenzo.

Musician Alien Skin

In addition, the controversial young artist staged a music concert that sold out in just a few months of being in the music industry.

Furthermore, for the first time, Victoria University in Kampala hosted a music concert featuring two rival Ugandan female musicians, Cindy and Sheeba Karungi. Thousands of people attended this much-anticipated concert at the Kololo independence grounds.

The deputy speaker of parliament, Thomas Tayebwa, was among the concert's notable attendees.

 

Kenya, Uganda Tanzania named joint hosts of AFCON 2027

Uganda received good news in September when its joint bid with Kenya and Tanzania to host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations was approved.

While Morocco was the hot favourite to host the 2025 edition of Africa's premier sporting event, Algeria's surprise withdrawal from the 2027 race opened the door for the East African countries.

Algeria explained the withdrawal as a new approach from the FAF (Algerian Football Federation) related to their country's football development strategy.

The CAF executive committee then approved the Kenya-Uganda-Tanzania bid, bringing the biennial tournament back to East Africa for the first time since Ethiopia hosted the finals in 1976.

Although each of the three countries has only one international-standard venue, Kampala authorities are planning to build two more international stadiums to host the tournament.

 

NBS TV marks 15 years of informing to transform

NBS TV, Next Media Group's flagship brand, celebrated its 15th anniversary this year.

Next Media Group CEO Kin Kariisa speaks to his team

To commemorate the commemorative anniversary, the group decided to give back to society in collaboration with other organisations through three exciting campaigns announced by Group CEO Kin Kariisa.

Next Media has since awarded 15 journalism scholarships to deserving students in order to foster the next generation of media professionals who will shape the media industry's future.

Through the #TaasaObutonde campaign, the group aim to plant 15 million trees to express its role in preserving the environment and building a greener future.

NBS TV also rolled out the #BeeraSteady campaign which include 15 financial literacy classes, empowering individuals to make informed financial decisions and secure their futures.

Kin Kariisa also stated that NBS TV's dominance will be unrivalled over the next thirty years, citing a competitive advantage in skills, resources, cutting-edge equipment, strategic collaborations, and significant investment in talent.

The next decade, according to management, promises to be even more prosperous, with the media conglomerate actively developing new strategies to tap into the rapidly expanding digital realm, which is expected to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

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