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PML Daily Weekly News Round-up: Ebola hits Uganda; Finance Minister Kasaija presents National Budget; Rwenzururu Queen Mother dead as list of BoU officials in fresh scandal is revealed

Collage photo of the most trending stories this week. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – On Tuesday, June 11 the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) of the United Nations (UN) confirmed a case of Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in Uganda.

In a joint statement, they said, although there have been previous numerous alerts, this was the first confirmed case in Uganda during the on-going Ebola outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Their statement added that the confirmed case is a 5-year-old Congolese child who travelled from the DRC with his family on June 9, 2019.

“The child and his family entered the country through Bwera Border post and sought medical care at Kagando hospital where health workers identified Ebola as a possible cause of illness,” the statement added.

Ebola treatment centre in Kasese.

About the same incident, on Thursday 13, June, there was panic and fear when three Ebola patients escaped from an Isolation centre in Kanungu where they had been admitted for close monitoring due to their Ebola-like symptoms.

The sickly trio was experiencing high body temperatures, one of the signs of the hemorrhagic fever. This compelled the Ebola surveillance officials to rush them to Kihihi Health Centre IV for close medical attention.

These were identified as Saddi Muhima, 46, his son Issa Muhima 19, and Milton Nsenga, all citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to the Kanungu Health Inspector, Kato Besisira, the patients escaped as the health workers were preparing to draw blood samples from them, the medics were intending to send the patients to Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) Entebbe for examination.

Meanwhile, on the same day, the Minister of Health, Jane Aceng revealed that Uganda had deported five suspected Ebola patients back to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a bid to cleanse the country of the deadly disease.

Hon. Aceng, therefore, called for calmness within the country saying the Ministry with a team of experts is on top of the situation and that Uganda has a good track record of fighting Ebola.

She has assured the nation that this outbreak won’t be any different.

“The teams at the Ministry of Health and partners have had the situation under control together with DRC, we repatriated five people back to DRC today,” she confirmed.

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija presented UGX41 trillion national budget at the Kampala Serena Hotel. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

Presentation of National budget

Mr. Matia Kasaija, the Finance Minister on Thursday, June 13, presented the UGX41 trillion national budget at the Kampala Serena Hotel and the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Rebecca Kadaga presided over the special sitting.

The Budget Speech is the Minister of Finance’s statement of the Executive’s overall budget policy for the forthcoming year and a summary of key budget policy proposals.

The Budget Speech is presented to Parliament on or before the 15th of June each year.

It typically outlines achievements against the last financial year’s targets; the Government’s annual priority spending areas or interventions; estimated Government revenue and revenue measures; and proposals of revenue and expenditure for the forthcoming year.

Finance minister Kasaija during the national budget reading revealed that the tourism sector has made dramatic progress and currently ranks as the highest foreign exchange earning sector.

He noted that this year, appropriate legislation will be enacted and vigorously enforced to preserve cultural sites and monuments and deter illicit trafficking of protected wildlife and antiquities.

“World-class skills will be built in hospitality and tourists handling, wildlife conservation, tour and travel management, food and beverage services,” he said.

Among the plans for the tourism sector in this financial year, the minister said that the government will upgrade and renovate key tourism infrastructure, including airfields and priority roads to improve accessibility.

According to the budget speech, he revealed that Finance has allocated UGX193.7bn to the tourism sector.

However, after the minister presenting the budget, President Yoweri Museveni appealed to leaders around the country to preach the gospel of modernized farming and skilling for the country to realize socio-economic transformation.

Mr. Museveni said this during a speech after the Finance Minister had presented the 2019/2020 National Budget at the Kampala Serena Conference Centre on Thursday, 13 June 2019.

He said that during his time in Political Opposition before NRM took power, he was trying to help the people of North Ankole out of poverty.

He said that there is an issue of people sitting around trying to observe culture instead of working. He also urged the MPs to sensitize people about the fact that the modern world has changed greatly.

Bank of Uganda scandal

On Friday 14, June the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit at State House Col. Edith Nakalema confirmed that a major investigation into the affairs of Bank of Uganda is underway and revealed that it is Bank Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile blew the whistle.

In a statement, issued Friday June 14, Col. Nakalema also indicated that the investigation initiated by her team was looking into the conduct of a number of senior Central bank officials and those in the customs and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in relation to discrepancies in printing and transportation of some billions of Uganda shilling bills.

The Police Criminal Investigations Director Grace Akullo is leading the investigation which Col. Nakalema says is pertaining to the banks’ “procurement and supply chain activities”.

However, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) on Saturday 15 June distanced itself from Bank of Uganda’s procurement blunders, telling the officials to own their mess.

URA also maintains that in clearing the consignment in question, the Customs staff followed the procedures to the dot. “…we can account for the cargo cleared fully,” stated the tax body.

URA has defended its integrity by providing the details of the information required by the investigators and the taxmen have stated that they are available to offer any clarification if required.

“URA should not be dragged into logistical contractual failures or mistakes of BOU and their service provider,” reads a statement dispelling reports associating the taxman in the prevailing BoU scam.

Meanwhile, Dr. Louis Kasekende, the Deputy Governor at Central Bank Saturday, June 15 apologized for ashaming the country with blatant blunders that has put industry commentators have put BoU country economy at stake.

The Deputy Governor who is in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, for the African Development Bank (AfDB) annual general meeting took to social media, apologizing for the mess.

“We are very sorry for ashaming Bank of Uganda like this,” Dr. Kasekende posted.

Dr. Kasekende who is in limelight over alleged illicit accumulation of wealth made the remarks following the arrests made at Central Bank as the State House Anti-Corruption Unit headed by Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema investigates Bank of Uganda officials in connection with the procurement of classified items.

Fallen Rwenzururu Queen Mother, President Museveni, and Rwenzururu King Charles Mumbere respectively. (PHOTO/File)

Rwenzururu Queen Mother’s death

Sad news on Tuesday, June 11 came from Kasese indicating the death of Rwenzururu Queen Mother (Nyamukama) Her Royal Highness, Christine Biira Mukirania, mother to Bakonzo cultural King Charles Wesley Mumbere and State Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Christopher Kibanzanga.

She was confirmed dead by the Bukonzo Royal family. The late queen mother died at the age of 85 on the morning of Tuesday 11 June at Kilembe Mines hospital in Kasese District where she had been admitted for a few weeks.

President Yoweri Museveni showered praise on the late Queen mother of Rwenzururu – Mukirania Biira Christine – calling her a “peacemaker.”

Museveni said that Mukirania was a key factor in promoting unity and peace in the Rwenzururu and Rwenzori region.

He added that Mukirania was his “sister” because they shared the same clan. Mr. President also revealed that he was reliably informed of the tragic news by the Basiita clan –to which the late Queen mother traditionally belonged.

In the aftermath, Justice Eva Luswata of the International Crimes Division of the High Court on Friday 14 afternoon allowed the Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere to travel for the burial of his mother that is slated for next week on Wednesday.

This was after the Director of Public Prosecutions Mike Chibita informing the court that he is okay with relaxing the bail terms imposed on King Mumbere to allow him to return to Kasese district to mourn, perform cultural rights and bury his mother; Christine Biira Mukirania.

In her ruling Justice Luswata noted that although her order that specifically prohibited the King from travelling to the districts of Kasese, Kabarole and Bundibugyo, it appeared quite stringent it was about what was transpiring in the districts at that time.

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