Uganda

  1. Ugandan weightlifter deported from Japan after going missing

    Patricia Oyella

    BBC News, Kampala

    Julius Ssekitoleko on arrival at Entebbe
    Image caption: Julius Ssekitoleko was pictured on arrival from Japan

    A Ugandan weightlifter who went missing from a pre-Olympics camp in western Japan has been flown home a few hours before the official start of the Games.

    Julius Ssekitoleko is currently being held at Uganda police headquarters to determine whether or not he had committed a crime, CID Spokesperson Charles Twino said.

    He left the camp a week ago and was later found by the authorities buying a railway ticket.

    Ssekitoleko's mother, pregnant wife and government officials who had travelled to Uganda's Entebbe airport to meet him on Friday morning did not get an opportunity to greet him on arrival.

    In a statement, the ministry of foreign affairs said the athlete was being "rehabilitated".

    It said the government would "help him understand how such acts of misconduct cannot only affect him as an athlete but also other athletes in the sports sector and the nation at large".

    When he disappeared, Ssekitoleko had left a note saying he wanted to stay in Japan and work.

  2. Why does Uganda want to track vehicles?

    Alan Kasujja

    BBC Africa Daily podcast

    Minibuses parked at the Old Park Taxi Station, Kampala, Uganda (taken September 2018)
    Image caption: The Ugandan government wants every vehicle to have a digital tracker

    The Ugandan government wants every vehicle in the country to be equipped with a digital tracker: cars, motorbikes, boats… you name it.

    In a speech last month, President Yoweri Museveni said this was a necessary measure to fight insecurity and to stop criminal activities.

    The announcement came shortly after an attack against Uganda's Transport Minister, Gen Katumba Wamala, in which his daughter and his driver were killed.

    The men who fired at their vehicle were riding motorbikes, according to witnesses.

    “There are many high-profile Ugandans who were killed by people who were riding motorcycles,” Chris Baryomunsi, Uganda’s minister of information, communications technology and national guidance told me. “And [without trackers] it would be very difficult to track the riders."

    But some people feel using these monitoring devices could actually put citizens under permanent surveillance by the state.

    “That becomes worse when you have a government that has been criticised over time for using communication technologies to largely tap on phones of the opposition leaders, but also critics,” says journalist Jacky Kemigisa.

    So, how much difference will these trackers actually make? And can Ugandans be confident that their details will not be misused?

    I went looking for answers in Wednesday’s episode of Africa Daily.

    Subscribe to the show on BBC Sounds or wherever you get your podcasts.

  3. Covid: Uganda traders denied access to their businesses

    Traders in Uganda's capital, Kampala, have been denied access to their businesses as security forces continue to implement tough health measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

    On 18 June President Yoweri Museveni ordered a 42-day lockdown that restricted movement and closed businesses.

    Many people criticised the move, saying that it would deny millions of people their right to earn a living.

    Local newspaper Daily Monitor reports that several traders tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with the security forces manning Park View Shopping Centre to allow them in.

    "Please, let me access my boutique. I want to pick some clothes and sell them from elsewhere. My children are starving at home because I am not working. Let me in," the paper quoted a woman as saying.

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    President Museveni said imposing tough measures was necessary to deal with a surge of infections sparked by the Delta virus which has led to an increase in hospitalisation and death.

    The East African country has reported more than 40,000 cases and 334 deaths.

  4. Museveni warns those posting fake news of his death

    President Yoweri Museveni
    Image caption: President Yoweri Museveni banned social media during the recent elections

    Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has called for people who post rumours saying he has died on social media to be arrested.

    The president said social media was becoming a problem and needed to be checked.

    Some people online circulated rumours about the president and his oldest son's health.

    "Social media apparently has been saying that Museveni is dead…locate quickly the ones who tell such stories because you are wasting people’s time," he said.

    President Museveni said he went for a public event after the rumours had been circulated and people looked "worried".

    He has in the past called for regulation of social media activities in the country.

    During the recent general election, access to social media sites was denied amid concerns or rights violations.

  5. Museveni: Police should target social media rumour-mongers

    Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni says there should be a "crackdown" on people who "are misemploying" social media.

    In a speech during the swearing-in of government ministers, Mr Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, said:

    Quote Message: Another problem we need to solve – I don’t think it is a security problem but it is an idiotic problem – [is] the social media.
    Quote Message: Social media apparently has been saying that ‘Museveni is dead’. So the security service needs also to solve that problem. I need to check with them to locate quickly the one who tells such a story because you waste people’s time.
    Quote Message: They should go for you."

    He posted a clip of the speech on his Twitter account:

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    In 2018, Mr Museveni argued that social media encouraged gossip and pushed for a social media tax to be introduced.

    In the run-up to January's elections all social media sites were blocked. The government argued that it was necessary for security reasons.

    The block was then lifted in February with the exception of Facebook.

    Mr Museveni had ordered the blocking of Facebook because it had been reported that the social media company had taken down pages linked to the ministry of information.

    People in Uganda are still unable to access Facebook.

    The Computer Misuse Act has also been used to regulate social media use.

    Bloggers and those with big social media followings are required to register with the Uganda Communications Commission.

  6. Uganda starts Covid cash handouts

    Patricia Oyella

    BBC News, Kampala

    A vendor stands in her shop on the first day of the Government's food distribution for people who have been affected by the lockdown in Kampala, on April 4, 2020.
    Image caption: Food vendors will be among the beneficiaries

    The Ugandan government has begun distributing Covid relief money to people affected by the second lockdown.

    About half a million people living in urban areas will benefit from the 53.7bn Ugandan shillings ($15m; £10m) set aside for the exercise.

    The money will be distributed through mobile money services with each beneficiary expected to receive $29.

    Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja launched the exercise in the capital, Kampala.

    The beneficiaries will include slum dwellers, food vendors, waiters, club bouncers, restaurant workers, musicians, comedians, taxi drivers, single mothers, teachers and support staff in private schools as well as those in government schools who are not on the payroll.

    Many of them are unable to work because of the current lockdown restrictions.

    Beneficiaries without mobile phones, or whose phone details are not up to date, will receive receive the money from a local bank.

    By the start of the exercise on Thursday, just over 100,000 people had been verified to receive the money.

    About 1.4 million people received food items from the government during last year's lockdown.

  7. Museveni: Swahili can unite Africa

    Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has called on Africans to speak Swahili to aid in unifying the continent.

    In a speech on African Integration Day, which marks progress in bringing the continent together, the long-serving Ugandan leader described Swahili as a "neutral language to unite us, it is non-ethnic, belongs to nobody".

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    During the speech he lamented that Africans were not more unified.

    "It is easier for Africans to unite than the Europeans, but we are not taking that direction surprisingly," he said in a tweet summarising his comments.

    As a non-European language, Swahili has often been spoken about as an alternative to English, French or Portuguese as a means for cross-continental communication. But the idea has been slow to become reality.

  8. Ugandans to be jailed for violating Covid rules

    Patience Atuhaire

    BBC News, Kampala

    Ugandan police hit vendors who refused to clear the streets
    Image caption: Security forces have used violence resulting in a number of deaths

    Ugandans who violate the Covid pandemic control restrictions may go to jail for up to two months.

    According to new rules released by the health ministry in a statutory document, those found operating banned businesses such as bars, night clubs, cinemas and shops selling non-food items face time in prison.

    Current lockdown measures also restrict cultural ceremonies like weddings to only 20 people, and anyone found hosting a larger number might be jailed.

    Heads of households or owners of premises or property who fail to report people infected with Covid-19 to health officials may be imprisoned as well.

    Not wearing a mask outside of one’s residence or assisting someone to escape from quarantine, could land one in jail.

    Since the country first went into lockdown in March 2020, security forces have in some cases meted out violence on the public while enforcing control measures, and several people have been killed.

    Uganda is currently going through a second wave of the pandemic, which scientists have predicted could peak between late July and early August.

    More than 83,000 positive cases and over 1,900 deaths have been recorded since the start of the pandemic.

  9. Video content

    Video caption: Helping Uganda's fight against climate change using ancient farming techniques

    How reviving traditional farming techniques could be helping in the battle against climate change in Uganda

  10. Uganda police arrest suspects in minister's shooting

    Soldiers man the hospital where Uganda's Transport Minister Katumba Wamala was being treated
    Image caption: The minister was injured in the shooting

    Police in Uganda have arrested four suspects in connection with the shooting of Transport Minister Katumba Wamala.

    One of the suspects was killed as he resisted arrest.

    Police said the suspects were trained in the same camp as rebels operating in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

    They said the group was planning to reactivate terror operations in the country.

    Materials believed to have been used in the minister's shooting and other unrelated bomb-making equipment were recovered during the arrests.

    The minister's daughter and driver were killed in the shooting. Two people have already been charged with their murders.

    President Yoweri Museveni ordered security agencies to fully investigate the attack and bring those responsible to book.

  11. Ugandans start paying new internet tax

    Patience Atuhaire

    BBC News, Kampala

    A woman uses a smartphone

    Ugandan internet users will from Thursday start paying a 12% excise duty on mobile data.

    The levy replaces the infamous "social media tax" - an over-the-top (OTT) services daily tax introduced in 2018 on use of social media.

    The new excise duty comes into effect as the new financial year begins.

    It was introduced earlier this year through an amendment by parliament.

    It will not be charged on mobile data purchased for provision of medical and education services, but it is not clear how the distinction will be made.

    The "social media tax" triggered protests in July 2018 that were led by opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine, which were violently dispersed by the security forces.

    Many Ugandans found ways to bypass it by using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

    The tax failed to raise as much money as was anticipated. The revenue authority said in July 2019 that it had collected about $14m (£10m) in the 2018-2019 financial year against a projected $80m from the tax.

    Taxing of internet use continues to cause public outcry in Uganda, especially among young people who are increasingly using the internet to start small businesses.

    More about Uganda:

  12. Fake Covid vaccine injectors arrested in Uganda

    Patience Atuhaire

    BBC News, Kampala

    Someone holding up a vaccine was someone waits for the shot - generic photo
    Image caption: People were charged between $28 and $56 per shot

    Two people have been arrested in Uganda for giving out fake Covid-19 vaccines. One more is on the run.

    It is believed that they may have injected up to 800 workers at private companies that had arranged vaccinations for their staff.

    They were charging between 100,000 Ugandan shillings ($28, £20) and 200,000 Ugandan shillings per jab.

    State House's Health Monitoring Unit (HMU) says it received a tip-off via local leaders that the two were travelling around some neighbourhoods of the capital, Kampala, claiming to be hospital healthcare workers.

    HMU’s Dr Warren Namara said that it was not yet clear what was in the fake jabs, but his team was testing the fluid.

    Covid-19 vaccines in Uganda are officially free, and available at designated public and private vaccination centres.

    More than 856,000 people have so far been vaccinated.

    The country is battling a second wave of coronavirus, with an increase in severe infections and deaths.

  13. Uganda unveils herbal medicine to treat Covid

    Health authorities in Uganda have approved a locally manufactured herbal medicine to treat Covid-19 patients and other viral infections.

    The country’s drug regulator, the National Drug Authority (NDA) said the product is formulated from herbal plants that have been traditionally used to alleviate symptoms of several diseases.

    It is however not a cure for Covid-19.

    NDA's decision comes a week after it warned the public against using Covidex, saying it had not been authorised.

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    Mbarara University of Science and Technology, where the developer Prof Patrick Ogwang teaches, also claimed the product as its own and said it had been leaked to the market before going through the right procedure.

    The NDA says the approval was based on initial assessment, published literature, and safety studies and that its innovator had also withdrawn unsubstantiated claims that the product treats and prevents Covid-19.

    The herbal medicine hit the market several months ago.

    It was retailing at less than a dollar but as infection surged amid the second wave of the pandemic, its price shot up to $22 (£15).

    Uganda imposed a lockdown in early June because of a surge in Covid-19 cases which has led to a rise in hospitalisation and deaths.

    More than 850,000 people have been vaccinated against Covid-19, with priority being given to health workers, teachers, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions.

  14. Two charged with murder of Uganda minister's daughter and driver

    Patience Atuhaire

    BBC News, Kampala

    A magistrate’s court in Uganda has charged two men with the murders of the daughter and driver of the country’s Transport Minister Edward Katumba Wamala in June.

    A 38-year-old motorcycle rider and a 46-year-old herbalist have been charged for the shooting and murder of Brenda Nantongo Wamala and Sgt Haruna Kayondo, the minister’s driver.

    They remain in custody and will appear in court again on 3 August. They have not yet been asked to plead.

    Gen Wamala survived the shooting with injuries to his arm. He has since left hospital and has returned to work.

    The minister’s car was sprayed with bullets by men riding on motorcycles on the morning of 1 June.

  15. Museveni: Vaccine inequality is Africa’s wake-up call

    Coronavirus vaccine
    Image caption: African countries are facing vaccine shortages

    Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has called out "vaccine selfishness" in the world but said it will "wake up" Africans to be self-sufficient.

    President Museveni said Africa needs the raw materials to produce its own Covid vaccines rather than donations from the developed nations.

    "Africans are a disgrace to ourselves. Why do we have to depend on the outside for everything. This is a big shame for Africa," he told delegates attending the World Health Summit on Sunday.

    Mr Museveni said countries across the continent need to stop waiting for vaccine donations and manufacture them locally.

    "This selfishness in the world is bad, but is good. I like it because it wakes up Africans. It a shame the whole of the African continent is just asleep, waiting to be saved by others like it happened during the slave trade," he said.

    The president said Uganda was in the process of making its own Covid vaccine and only needed help with some raw materials saying: "Don’t worry we shall buy them. We don’t need donations."

    The African Union has been calling for a Covid vaccine patent waiver to allow the continent to make its own vaccines as a shortage continues in different countries.

  16. Covid red list: Ugandans to be barred from UK travel

    Patience Atuhaire

    BBC News, Kampala

    Travellers at Entebbe Airport in Uganda - March 2020
    Image caption: From next Wednesday, Ugandans will not be able to go to the UK

    Uganda will be added to the UK's travel "red list" of high-risk Covid countries from 30 June.

    This means travellers from Uganda will not be able to enter the UK unless they are returning nationals or residents - and they would have to first test negative and then isolate for 10 days on entry.

    This comes amidst rising coronavirus cases in Uganda, which is currently on the UK's amber list for travel.

    More than 1,200 positive cases were recorded on Tuesday - and more than 75,000 people have been infected since the pandemic began.

    A 45-day lockdown was imposed in the country last week. A 19:00 to 05:30 curfew is in place, schools remain closed, passenger public and private transport is banned and some businesses are not allowed to operate.

    But the country’s international borders, including the main airport, remain open to travellers with a valid negative Covid PCR test - except for those arriving from India.

    President Yoweri Museveni declared Friday a public holiday and a day of national prayers for the country to pray for frontline health workers and families who have lost their loved ones to coronavirus.

  17. Video content

    Video caption: Child labour in Uganda: The hidden costs of Covid

    When all Uganda's schools closed due to the pandemic, nine-year-old Teddy joined her mother mining for gold.