Saturday, August 18, 2018

Patrick Okumu Ringa - Uganda's Most Un-honourable Man?

“Honourable.” If you describe people or actions as honourable, you mean that they are good and deserve to be respected and admired as in, “I believe he was an honourable man, dedicated to the people and his district”. There is, another way you could use the word: “The people also felt he did not behave honourably in the aftermath of the recent municipality parliamentary elections”. That aside, the term is also used as a title prefix before the names of people who are members of parliament, ministers and some other officials.

In Uganda, there are people out there who want to join politics and to become members of parliament. Most of them do it under the guise of ‘For God and My Country’ yet in reality, they do it for totally different and selfish reasons. They do it to scheme for a 4x4 ride at almost zero cost. They do it to take advantage of going abroad on useless fact-finding missions like seeing how garbage is collected or how street lighting works. They do it to award themselves hefty pay rises, sitting allowances and of course, the most important scheme of all, finding that loophole that enables them so skim public funds for personal gain so they can build a lavish crib to show how ‘successful’ they are.
Patrick Okumu Ringa
I think I’ve have been to Nebbi Municipality. Regardless of my having gone there or not, Nebbi Municipality sounds far – like it requires one to first get immunised and will take three days to get there. Apart from Patrick ‘OPP’ Oyulu, the other household name to have slithered out of the Municipality is, Patrick Okumu Ringa who so research tells me, was Padyere County MP for ten years until 2006 when he got trounced by David Ringecan (RIP).
Patrick 'OPP' Oyulu
In true political gusto, Okuma-Ringa was not bound to let that setback get to him that, in several other elections, he tried and in vain I might add, to get back his Honourable title but still lost and more recently to Suleiman Hashim in the recent NRM primaries. Again, that didn’t deter him. Like a true northern warrior, he scraped himself off the ground, licked his wounds and came back charging – this time as an Independent. And once the results came through, had our Okumu-Ringa gotten his title back? Err, embarrassing to say, but, nara (*)!

If sanity had prevailed, our Okumu-Ringa, would have put his hands up and said: “Once again the people have spoken, and they obviously do NOT want me to have the Honourable title. Such is their conviction because I got the least votes out the three candidates that stood.”

And that should have been the end of the tale and the end of this Sunday drabble, but there is more. Battered, bruised and dejected, Okumu-Ringa didn’t take defeat lying down. He went home and after throwing all his toys out of the pram, he had a moment of clarity that was laced with a scathing anger and venom that psycho sadists like Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden could not have thought of in their heydays.
Osama Bin Laden
No, he didn’t go on a killing spree but he looked at everything he had done for his constituents in the ten years that he was an Honourable, and said: “right, this is it!” Perhaps frothing at the mouth, he lashed an order to his men to dismantle the ten or so boreholes he had built in different wards for his constituents! In defence of his actions, he said: “I am hurt…let them go and look for water elsewhere…” 
A Borehole Similar To This That Was Destroyed
Now what sort of grown up man stoops that low into the pit latrine and does that? Well Okumu-Ringa does that perhaps we should start calling him The Most Un-honourable Patrick Okumu-Ringa?

(*) Nara, a word used by teens to mean ‘no’. 


Friday, August 10, 2018

Bank of Under Mattress, Bank of Mayuuni Plantation Still Open For Business!

Just in case you didn’t know this, Bank of Under Mattress, Bank of Inside Toilet Cistern, Bank of Under Floor Board and Bank of Mayuuni Plantation, were never closed down by Bank of Uganda. They are still open for business and are set to thrive even further especially after comments made by Grace Atwongyeire, Principal Legal Officer at Directorate for Ethics and Integrity, at Hotel Africana a couple of weeks ago.

Bank of Under Mattress

Atwongyyeire told us that government has embarked on a process of drafting a law that enables it to recover properties or assets by people who are unable to explain the source of their wealth.

The 'Brown Envelope'

Upon my return to Uganda from the UK in the late 90s, I was na├»ve and unconscious as to the way Uganda worked in that I hadn’t heard of the term ‘brown envelope’. Freelancing as a journalist, I got a call from Lawyer to meet him at Sheraton Hotel. Nestled in the lush leather seats, he pulls his seat closer to me, looks round to make certain that no one is listening before spilling it all. “TB, my client is a respectable family man with a good standing in the community. Recently, he did something that was wrong and would bring shame to him, his wife and children. He also feels you have been given the information of what he did by his enemies and he kindly, asks you not to splash it in the papers.”

Was Lawyers Client A Naughty Boy?

Basically Client, and in a moment of madness had stopped his car near Radio Uganda and picked up Call Girl. As Call Girl clambered into the ride, a car came up, slowed down and somebody pointed a wagging finger at him.

Days later and back at Sheraton, I assured him that Client had no need to worry. As we concluded business and I got up to leave, Lawyer tapped my shoulder saying: “TB, you’ve dropped an envelope in your seat.”

Looking round, there was indeed an envelope in the seat. It wasn’t there when I sat down and for certain, I didn’t have one on me when I turned up for the meet. However, Lawyer insisted it was my envelope. I insisted back that it wasn’t mine. Eventually it dawned on him that I knew nothing about brown envelopes that he simply thrust it in my hand and said: “Its for you. Client says thank you.”

Incidentally, the term ‘brown envelope’ was first coined in 1994 the after a “cash-for-questions-affair” scandal UKs House of Commons. The Guardian newspaper alleged that then owner of Harrods department store, Mohammed Al Fayed, had paid an MP to ask a question using a brown coloured envelope for the transaction. Brown envelopes are not just a media affair. In politics, business and day-to-day transactions, they are the way of life and given out to pay off whoever there is to pay.

Mohammed Al Fayed When He Still Owned Harrods

The brown envelope that Lawyer gave me, if I had received it after Atwongyyeire’s bill had been passed, of course it would be money that would be not bankable – well not in the high street banks like Standard Chartered, Centenary Rural, Barclays and others. What if he and others decided to go poking through my accounts and found money that I was not able to explain?

Bank of Under Floor Board

Like was said at the start, this is where Bank of Under Mattress, Bank of Under Floor Board, and Bank of Mayuuni Plantation come into play for out there, there are many people that if Atwongyeire were to ask how they accumulated their wealth, it would be a tall order. Remember the lady who was under investigation for selling UBC land and what she said – something along the lines of selling goats to amass the billions she has. If only she had banked with the very discreet Bank of Under Mattress, Bank of Inside Toilet Cistern and Bank of Mayuuni Plantation. 


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Will Uganda Airlines Fly The Distance This Time Round?

QU, that was the call sign for former national airline carrier, Uganda Airlines. For 16 years, QU flew the skies until it went into liquidation in May 2001. Now, word is strife that the airline is set to fly once again.
Uganda Airlines Logo 

Looking back, there was a time when Entebbe International Airport had a string of airlines flying in and out of it, like the deceased’s - British Airways, Alliance Air, Africa One, Air Uganda, Sabena, East African, Victoria International Airways, Egypt Air and Air Tanzania (once deceased but has come back to life). Today, in and out of Entebbe are the regulars – South African, Kenya Airways, Emirates, Qatar, Brussels Airlines, RwandAir and Ethiopian amongst others.

Alliance Air died in October 2000

For many a traveller who flew the old QU, seeing the new QU in its new livery land at Entebbe will be an auspicious day and if there is one song that was adopted by the English during the recently concluded football World Cup – ‘It’s Coming Home’, I might suggest to the powers that be that they play it as it touches down.

I have my memories of flying QU – from the Fokker Friendship F-27 to the Boeing 707 to and from London, Gatwick. Flying QU was a laid-back affair - free seating and you could do just about everything. While there was no inflight entertainment like there is today, it didn’t bother because there was always someone – especially on the flight from Gatwick to Entebbe who had bought a cassette player (*) and would blare out music.

The Fokker Friendship F-27 That Plied The Entebbe/JKIA Route

While food was inclusive of your ticket, drinks were not and I stand to be corrected on this – but a beer was sold for 50 British pence. One thing that you could do then that you can’t do today is to go up to the cockpit and sit with the crew for a while and smoke in any part of the aircraft.

While the livery of the new QU looks exciting, well before the first aircraft has landed, it appears and in true Ugandan fashion, that sinister elements are already at work. In its July 21 – July 27 edition, The East African newspaper screamed out that: “Uganda Airlines to fly the ‘unwanted’ Airbus 330 Neo”. Of course, the headline was an alarmist one that implied QU was buying junk planes that are not airworthy. However, reading through the story it tells a different story all together.

What Uganda Airlines Would Look Like 

And there is more. Everybody out there who does not have a job or who want a career change, is looking at QU and have already started lobbying anyone who has a link to the airline. I too have been approached and my answer is always, “I don’t know” but they won’t leave it to rest and insist that I must know someone with connections. And there is Fellow who sent me his resume and asked that I pass it on. For the 50th time Fellow, I really DON’T KNOW anybody who is part of the airline.

Ephraim Bagenda (R), CEO - Uganda Airlines

While some scramble for jobs, word is that some are already trying to bring down those who already have jobs. I have never met Ephraim Bagenda, who is the airlines new CEO and is married to Rebecca Kimoome who by the way, happens to be a niece to Princess Elizabeth Bagaya so sources tell me though I first heard of him when he was still at Air Uganda and his involvement in getting RwandAir off the ground. But there is something suspicious because since he became CEO, his Wikipedia profile has suddenly been altered in the he is no longer a Ugandan, a Mutooro at that from Kyenjojo, but Rwandese. Hmm…. 

(*) A machine or gadget for playing back or recording audio cassettes that kids born after 1998, has never seen.


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