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Posts Tagged ‘elections’

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The newspapers have been awash with stories of how the political parties have padded their membership list with people who are actually not members, in fact none of these people in question had even been asked if they wanted to be members in the first place. All this has been done in order for the political parties to be able to meet the eligibility criteria required for the next general elections. The law states that a political party must have a certain number of members who are registered voters in all provinces of the country.

The funny thing is that all the news stories are dwelling more on the outrage that the public has felt about being enrolled in one party or another without their permission (this includes a sitting member of parliament) rather than calling the crime what it is………IDENTITY THEFT!

I have always read and heard about identity theft, but always from the perspective that it is a developed world phenomenon. I mean what are you going to do with my identity details? Bureaucracy slows down everything in Africa that surely I will cotton on to an identity thief in no time. Really?

I have been disturbed for years about the Kenyan practice of handing over ones ID card every time you walk through a gate or into a building. The security guards note down your name, ID number and your phone number. In many cases they actually hold onto the card while you do your business wherever. This practice is even more widespread when one considers that hotels, phone companies, supermarkets, banks etc routinely photocopy ID cards and passports for all manner of reasons.

In an environment where there is no data protection act in in existence the public is entirely at the mercy of people who routinely collect this information and do with it as they please. So it is no surprise that thousands of people have found themselves members of political parties no one has ever heard of. Their identities have been stolen and we have lost our innocence. We will mature when this new crime gravitates from the voters list to white collar crime……….I hold my breath!

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Security operatives cornered Ugandan opposition leader in his car and  smashed the windows in and did their best to tear gas the occupants out this afternoon. The star of this bizzarre show was a guy in a flowery shirt and dark glasses. clearly enjoying the media attention he went about his ‘dirty’ business with gusto.  It was all very strangely familiar right down to shoing Kizza besigye in to the back of the poloce pick up truck, under the seats, no less!

All Ugandans have to do is rewind 35 years and we will realise that the bogeyman is well and truly back. He may have a different name, but the same lousy sense of style and the dark glasses and the brutality is all the same. He has been around quite awhile, but true to form we were too afraid to say his name.

We love to quote Winston Churchill: describing Uganda as the pearl of Africa. Here’s another quote: ‘Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it’.

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On the 13th of April 2011, Opposition leader dr. Kizza besigye left home on foot to walk 16km to his office. He could have driven there, but wanting to protest rising fuel prices he chose to foot it to work.  However he did not realise that in Uganda today you are not allowed to walk to work if you already own a car. Police, in their blue military style fatigues, only in Uganda, surrounded him gave him three options

  1. Return home
  2. Call his driver and complete his journey in the comfort of his car
  3. Accept a lift from the police

He chose neither and was promptly dispatched in the back of a double cabin pickup. The irony totally lost on the powers that be.

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With another flawed general election gone and another five year term for El Presidente Magnifico, what is the future of these rural Ugandan school kids, smiling with innocence. (Photo Copyright: Dan Bachman)

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Amelia Kyambadde, President Museveni's private secretary and a parliamentary aspirant rolls out the pork barrel at a elections campaign meeting

A close friend of mine could not help, but comment on this photo that appeared on Amelia Kyambadde’s Facebook page. She said:

‘Whatever the case, the movement machinery is organized and wont leave just for free after being in power for a quarter of a century …… as seen here , incumbency has its benefits, access to power has its advantages ….. A sense of hopeless surrender by the masses presents a surreal calm and an organized existance …. all neat and pretty but really a souless living dead, disempowered by the bus driver(s) (the NRM’s yellow bus, I presume) from self-determination and thereby compromising our collective future ….

Food for thought as Uganda heads into the next general elections.

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President Yoweri Museveni has signed into law the Regulation of Interception of Communications Bill, 2010, giving powers to security officials to listen into private communication if they have sufficient reason to suspect the communication is in aid of criminal activity. (The Monitor Newspaper.)

This is something that has been brewing for years  and was passed by parliament last year and now has been signed into law, a few days after the Al Shabab bombings. And my fears have been growing steadily. Its an open secret that the government has been tapping phones, illegally, for years. Everyone has learnt to watch what they say on the phone and others keep multiple phone lines hoping it will provide privacy.

The only saving grace was that they could not use the evidence gathered this way in a court of law.

 Telecom companies are obliged to give government security agencies cooperation to place their (agencies’) tapping gadgets on their network equipment with the aim of enabling the security men access private conversations or exchanges.
But according to the law, only a High Court judge can grant permission to a state security operative to tap into a person’s communication. The Act provides for the establishing of a monitoring centre manned, operated and controlled by designated technical experts appointed by the Security minister.(The Monitor Newspaper)
 

Now initially in the draft law all that was required was that the minister of security, or the inspector general of police, or the head of the prisons service, or either of the heads of the external/ internal security intelligence services, or the army commander could order for your phone to be tapped.

Clearly this was scaled back to require judicial consent for such an act. However, with constant tapping taking place and the wanton disregard for the laws of the land, can we honestly believe the officers mentioned above or their juniors will not take liberties with the civil liberties of the man on the street, or even more likely, those of people considered ‘enemies of the movement system.’ And with the business world tied into an incestuous relationship with the political and security apparatus it is foreseable that commercial communications could be intercepted and abused.

Having multiple sim cards is pointless as everyone is required to register their phone lines. Thus the only way to really have a really private conversation is to do it the old fashioned way, at the pub huddled over a bottle of beer. So there is some benefit to all this, we just might regain the social contact we have lost due to the advent of the mobile phone.

But then again, there is an ominous erosion of civil freedoms in Uganda, it is slow, but very steady. Currently in kampala one needs clearance from the Inspector General of Police, no less, in order for more than 5 people to meet in one place. He insisted that all one needs is clearance to meet, not permission. Splitting hairs? I agree, but the implimentation with be interesting to observe and politics will intrude………elections are round the corner. After all who really can keep track of all the Kwanjulas, night prayers, funeral vigils, birthday parties etc in kampala….it is impossible!!!

With the Public Order Management Bill also on its way to Parliament, will Ugandans finally be denied the right to meet, talk in privacy, protest in public or speak on a radio talk show.

 There is a Bill Of Rights in our 1995 Constitution, does it mean anything to our members of parliament. I am not holding my breath, they would sell their mothers for a kilo of maize meal.

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