Museveni will NOT leave power, even if he loses.

18 02 2016

Ugandans went to polls this morning to decide who takes the country’s top job. There are 8 candidates in the race but the two dominant contenders are; Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (who is trying to extend his 30 year old regime) and Forum for Democratic Change’s, Dr. Kizza Besigye (who is contending for the forth time).

Yahoo Photo. A Ugandan casting a ballot earlier today.

Yahoo Photo. A Ugandan casting a ballot earlier today.

In Kampala, the capital, voting started between 2 to 7 hours late at most of the polling stations. Voters who turned up at 6am to queue up, anticipating of start casting their votes at 7am were disappointed when they learned that the Electoral Commission (EC) had NOT delivered the ballots and other supplies on time. The voters braved the hot sun for hours waiting for the commission to deliver ballot papers and boxes. Some of the polling stations received the ballot papers 45 minutes before the 4pm, when the voting exercise was set to end. Kampala and neighboring Wakiso are believed to be opposition strongholds and the delay to deliver voting material has been viewed as a deliberate act to deny the opposition the much-anticipated victory.

Live television coverage and social media updates from various parts of the country reveal that the process was mostly peaceful but with many inexcusable glitches caused by the EC. Cases of people found in possession of pre-ticked ballot papers have been reported around Kampala and Ntungamo. In fact, one polling officer allegedly issued two pre-ticked ballots in favour of Museveni to one of the voters – this caused some tension at the polling station.

This morning, the Uganda Communications Commission issued a directive to internet and mobile money service providers to block access to Twitter, Facebook and the mobile money transfer services. The ingenious citizens were one step a head of the technologically inept commission. They resorted to VPNs and Proxies to stay connected. Some of the incidents that happened at the polling stations were exposed on social media – with video and photo evidence.

The incidents Ugandans witnessed today show the problem with “Uganda’s democracy”, it is hooked to Museveni’s influence on the entire electoral process. These incidents assert fears expressed by Museveni’s contender that the vote was rigged long before the election day.

Museveni’s regime has mastered the art of not only keeping the opposition in check but also tightened its grip on the media making it impossible for journalists to report freely and openly about issues of service delivery, let alone election irregularities. The ruling NRM party has used the loopholes in the government’s institutionalized corruption to continue tightening its grip on power. The police and the army have on several occasions made controversial stands and remarks siding with the regime.

During the campaign period, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development have shown their support to Museveni through using public funds to sponsor TV commercials that are partisan. The adverts show how the government has focused on building and equipping hospitals, and creating opportunities for the youth in the past 30 years.

Museveni’s has used national television to openly intimidate people using the rhetoric that quite frankly suggests that if Ugandans vote him out of office, there will be no peace. Infact, the Secretary General of NRM, Justine Kasule Lumumba warned “the state will kill your children” if they try to disorganize stability and she added that “the government of NRM is NOT going anywhere”.

But Uganda’s problem is far beyond voting one man, Museveni, out of power. The problem is more about getting rid of a regime that has infested every public office, media house, corporate company with its own ideals and priorities at the expense of the needs and freedom of Ugandans.

Uganda has a very painful past and many quite frankly agree that let Museveni rule until he is tired. Ugandans just want peace and a peaceful transfer of power. This does not mean that many or even majority of Ugandans do not want change, but every time this discussion comes up the big question remains:

“At what cost?”





Uganda Electoral Commission under pressure over 20K “ghost voters”

12 02 2016

A recent data analysis that found discrepancies in the Uganda Electoral Commission voter count has put some voters on high alert, and consequently increased the anxiety about the upcoming presidential elections.

The data on Electoral Commission (EC) had indicated that there are 15,297,197 registered voters in Uganda. On the contrary, an independent data analysis found a 20,000 voter error margin. Here is another blog showing how we exposed the discrepancies and TMS Ruge’s breakdown of the data.

The Electoral Commission was notified about the discrepancies immediately. Instead of giving a detailed account of what happened, the commission made demeaning remarks – arguing that the analysis was baseless.

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But this was not good enough for the Ugandans who were eager to know what was going on.  They continued to pressure the EC through its official Twitter account, demanding that the issue should be taken seriously. In the meantime, media houses started reporting on this issue – pressure was mounting on the commission.

The Spokes person of the commission, Jotham Taremwa finally agreed – that this was a “statistical error”.

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WHAT THE DATA ANALYSIS REVEALED:

Analysis of voter data per polling station revealed that some polling stations had way more (some over 400) voters than they should have while others had way less.

At Nkokonjeru Primary School, a polling station in Ruharo Parish, Mbarara District; the Electoral Commission data shows that there are 436 Female Voters and 359 Male Voters – the total voter count (Female + Male) =387. Once we analyzed the data, we found that 408 voters were not accounted for.

At Nyamitanga Muslim Pri Sch, in Katete Parish, Mbarara District; the data indicated that there are 247 Female Voters and 202 Male Voters – the total voter count according to the commission = 900. Our analysis found that this was NOT correct.

Ghost Voter-Mbarara

Overall I personally came to the conclusion that there are probably not just 20,000 ghost voters but many more. If the Electoral Commission indicates that there are 387 voters at a given polling station and yet when I add number of Female (436) + (359) Male voters at the same polling station I get 795 I cannot help but wonder where the commission put the missing 408.

This morning (11, February), the commission quietly took down its website and removed the document we analyzed and replaced it with a new document with changes that seem to address the concerns we had. Well, some tweeps noticed that the website was down, which forced the EC to make this lame excuse.

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FAST FORWARD

With just 5 days to the polls I am not convinced that the commission is prepared to handle emerging issues especially when they involve discrepancies.

If the commission failed to compute the sum of a couple of hundreds (as indicated above), how can they convince Ugandans that they are ready to tally millions of votes from over 28,010 polling stations country wide?

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EC went into a coma after we published a simple analysis of data they should have crosschecked and rechecked many months and weeks ago. If anything, this shows how unprepared the commission is.

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Even though the commission has finally realized that our analysis was NOT baseless (as it originally claimed) – seeing that EC has updated its data to match our figures, the manner in which they did it is unacceptable. With no explanation to the public. What is even worse, in the latest version of data, EC has eliminated the columns showing the number of Male and Female voters per polling station leaving just the total voter count per polling station.

Taking away the demographics makes it impossible for us or anyone else to do further analysis – and that is probably what the EC wants. But, this does not mean that there are no more loopholes in the voter registers.

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“Luckily”, the EC has procured handheld Biometric Voter Verification Systems and they are expected to catch any anomalies the commission might have missed. But, I have a feeling that at many of the polling stations, especially the rural ones (which are the majority in number), they will have to rely on the paper based register – because (sometimes) technology fails.

For now, I will keep crunching the voter register data as I anxiously await for the EC to deliver its promise of a “free and fair election”!





At least 20,000 “ghost voters” in Uganda’s voter register: 9 Days to Elections

9 02 2016

With just about 9 days to the 2016 presidential elections, many Ugandans are itching to vote. According to the Electoral Commission (EC) of Uganda, almost everything is in place for the February 18th polls and a free and fair election is guaranteed.

But the polling station  (accessible here) voter counts released by the Electoral Commission show a major flaw in the upcoming elections.  The data shows that there are 15,297,197 voters in Uganda. In terms of gender demographics, the document indicates that there are 8,027,803 Female and 7,249,394 Male voters. However, the sum of female and male voters as indicated in that document yields 15,277,197   NOT the said 15,297,197 (as indicated in the document). Note the difference of 20,000 voters.

When a friend (@enamara) alerted me about this irregularity, I took the data provided by the Electoral Commission and converted the PDF document to Excel and started analyzing the data per polling station. I inserted one more column “Analyzed Voter Count” in the document and I put it side by side with EC’s Voter Count for easy comparison.

First I applied a simple formula to get the sum of Male and Female voters per polling station. Once I got the sums, I compared my sum per polling station with EC’s Voter Count (sum) per polling station. The results speak for themselves, showing the disparities. Many of the polling stations have voters that are ‘unaccounted for’.

JSsozi-Election-Data-Uganda

The cells highlighted with a red background indicate polling stations with what I can only term as “ghost voters”. Overall, there are 20,000 voters who are unaccounted for based on the gender demographics.

At the moment it is not clear whether this is a systematic way of fixing votes or a “human error”. Regardless of where these 20,000 ghost voters come from, with such flaws, a free and fair election is still a dream. If the electoral commission cannot deal with these simple numbers – especially now that there is no major rush, can we trust them with vote tallying in one day?

Evelyn Namara noticed these disparities 3 days ago and she contacted the commission via Twitter. She has not received a response from the commission since.

We should condemn this negligence and call up on the Electoral Commission to account for the 20,000 voters.

The screenshot below shows further analysis and the number of “Ghost voters” per polling station (see column Q – extreme right).  Statistics by Polling Station – Data Analysed –Showing Ghost Voters

Ghost-Voters- Uganda

Download the Statistics by Polling Station – Data Analysed -Uganda – this is the Excel Sheet with data I analyzed. I have password protected the document just to make sure that no “unintended” alterations are made. If you want to do further analysis, tweet me @jssozi and I will give you the password.

You can also use this Electoral Commission Database (http://www.ec.or.ug/ps/list/) to verify number of voters per polling station and also download polling station information including voter registers.





Is NTV Uganda the new Lokodo: Staff fired over nude leaks

27 05 2015

Nude photos of Fabiola Kyalimpa leaked in February 2015: thanks to a local tabloid, the photos made rounds on social media. This afternoon NTV Uganda announced (internally) that Fabiola who was a TV show host at this station was asked to resign her duties effective immediately. An email NTV management sent to the staff reads:

Dear Enablers,
This is to notify you that Anita Kyarimpa a.k.a. Fabiola has been asked to resign her position as Presenter (Be My Date). This, she has done and it takes immediate effect. The reason emanates from her nude pictures that have been doing the rounds on the social media circuit.
Those in the habit of engaging or those contemplating in doing the same are strongly advised to think thrice of its repercussions. This tarnishes our brand image and values; a foundation on which we are built and respected….

Now, I understand that NTV feels very highly about its brand/ image. However this totally took me by surprise. Is NTV implying that this TV host wanted her nude photos to leak?

Nude photo leaks are becoming a common occurrence in Uganda and the media (especially tabloids) are making a good cut off the leaks. We can blame social media and the lunatics who make it their business to share leaked nude photos wide but the real problem lies with the responsibility and role of the media. As it is, our local tabloids do not have the etiquette to refrain from publishing the photos but what are other media houses doing about it – especially when one of their own is a victim?

The answer lies in the email NTV sent to the staff, a precise warning. Once your nude photos leak, show yourself the door and never come back! Clearly NTV’s response to Fabiola’s incident is rather appalling. Absolutely zero pity, instead, she is being punished for a “crime” she did not commit. This reminds me of Lokodo, who often thinks that women go around leaking their nude photos and that victims of revenge porn “should be locked up and isolated”. Yes, I do not see a difference between Lokodo and NTV.

In the email above NTV claims that its protecting the “brand/ image” which is rather absurd because NTV seems to be mixing two things – private and professional life of the TV host. Who is the real victim here: the station’s brand or Fabiola (who is dealing with nude leaks and involuntary loss of a job)? I see NTV’s problem, the management probably thinks that the employees do not have a private life or if they do, they should be very careful what they do with it.

When corporate companies respond to these kinds of situations like this, I wonder whether they think about the implications of such decisions.

  • For example, we now know how easy it is to end the career of any of NTV’s employees – leak their nude photos. How convenient or rather, absurd.
  • November 2014, NTV invited one of the victims of nude leaks to a morning show to talk about her experience and how she was handling the public humiliation. You invited one victim to share her experience on TV and yet you are dismissing your own?  This makes me question NTV’s (social) responsibility claim.

The fact that NTV is willing to tell the story of one woman whose nude photos have leaked tells me one thing – that NTV does not mind talking about nude leaks victims on TV for selfish reasons (to make money for the station). Yet, when nude pictures of a station employee leak, that is the end of her story and job!

Bravo NTV Uganda, that is as selfish as you can get.

Meanwhile, some folks are demanding NTV to #BringBackFabioula on Twitter.  Photo by Muhereza Kyamutetera ‏(@MKyamutetera)

Meanwhile, some folks are demanding NTV to #BringBackFabiola on Twitter. Photo by Muhereza Kyamutetera ‏(@MKyamutetera)





Anti-Pornography Bill – the hidden agenda: READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

9 04 2013

The talk on social networks in Uganda is now focusing on the Mini-Skirt. Many of my friends both male and female have posed the question: “What is a mini skirt?” Or what makes a skirt “mini”?

I would be arrested for posting such a photo!

I would be arrested for posting this photo and you would be arrested for viewing it!

The talk about the mini-skirts bill followed Simon Lokodo, Uganda’s ethics and integrity minister, who said that ‘Any attire which exposes intimate parts of the human body, especially areas that are of erotic function, are outlawed. Anything above the knee is outlawed. If a woman wears a miniskirt, we will arrest her.’

The minister’s statements are further emphasized in the proposed Anti-Pornography Bill. A hard copy of the bill continues to be circulated on the internet but not many people will read it. There are mixed reactions over the bill among Ugandans. According to the media, the bill seeks to ban mini-skirts which is unacceptable to majority of the young ladies and yet a recent radio-poll survey shows support from Northern Uganda supports the mini-skirt ban.

Yesterday night I had the opportunity to review and interpret the bill together with Rosebell (a journalist) and Peter (a lawyer). Our interest in reviewing the bill was to inform ourselves on the content of the bill in order to share with fellow Ugandans especially those using social media.

After reading the bill it was simple for the three of us to come to a common conclusion. That this bill is nothing but another tactic for the government to continue trolling on people’s human rights and most importantly access to information.

Even though the bill seeks to address key issues such as child pornography, the bill does not respect culture, the media and most importantly people’s freedom to conduct business and access information.

According to the bill, “a person shall now produce, or traffic in, publish, broadcast, procure, import, export or abet any form of pornography.” Any one who does this commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding UGX 10,000,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or both.

redpepper

RedPepper is a national tabloid that is known for printing and reporting on what some people would call sexually explicit content. Now, millions of people buy this paper from hundreds of vendors around the country. This means that the author, editor, vendor and reader of RedPepper could (and will) be among the victims of this bill.

Maybe RedPepper deserves that. The minister also said that, “television should not broadcast a sexy person”. If you like Iryn Namubiru’s music videos, Juliana, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj and the like, if this bill is passed into a law you will never see such videos on your TV sets ever again!

And for you social media junkies who like to party and share your photos on Facebook, be aware that this bill seeks not only to regulate what you post or read on the internet. The bill seeks to install software that will monitor your internet activity. Internet service providers have been tasked to monitor every single user and report those who produce, share or view pornography.

Question remains, what is pornographic (content) to you? If a Muganda went to Karamoja I am sure they would be offended when they see the Karamajong walking with their behinds exposed. But this is part of the Karamajong culture, and part of how they dress, behave and dance defines who they are!
This afternoon Rosebell, Peter and I are hosting a tweetup to discuss the Anti-Pornography Bill. Details of the event – https://www.facebook.com/events/147949672045789/

Download the Bill here: – Anti Pornography bill 2011

Also follow #AntiPornBillUg, #SaveTheMiniSkirts and #SaveMiniSkirt on Twitter





The role of media in igniting or ending crisis: #KenyaDecides

4 03 2013

Yesterday I went to the cinema with my friend Rosebell hoping to catch a good action or comedy movie. As soon as we got there we realized we had to choose between watching Django Unrated and Ni Sisi, a Kenyan movie.

It had never crossed my mind that I would go to the cinema to watch a Kenyan movie! We decided to watch Ni Sisi because we were aware that Kenya was barely 20 hours away from the hotly contested presidential polls.

Ni Sisi is a Swahili word that means, “It is us”. The movie features three women – a pastor, a market vendor and a hairdresser. It revolves around the life of these women, their children and an aspiring member of parliament – Mzito.

Jabali, the main character is a son of Nene, the pastor. Mzito is used Jebali’s mother to spread rumours and hate, and together they almost destroyed the village community.

One night Jebali had a dream, in the dream the election romours caused unrest in the village. Men with machetes killed people and burned houses. Jebali’s own cousin Roxana and aunt Zippy were among the dozens of victims.

Like in many superhero movies, Jebali was frightened as he shared the dream with his mother and relatives. His family did not take his dream seriously but with Roxana’s support the duo excavated the dream to end the rumours and calm the situation.

Jebali confronted Mzito on one of his campaign rallies in Nene’s church and accused him of spreading false rumours. This inspired other people to speak up against this politician.

Kenya-election

Ni Sisi is just one of the hundreds of civic education campaigns and its aim is to promote peace and a unified Kenyan identity in preparation for the 2013 elections.

In 2007 when the results of the presidential elections were announced, there was a rumour that the vote was rigged. A few days later violence engulfed Kenya; over 1,100 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were displaced. The biggest fear as the Kenyans went to vote today was that there would be a repeat of the 2007 events.

As the poll day drew closer tension started mounting again. The talk about the events that happened in 2007 started surfacing again. The New Vision’s cover page yesterday had a headline “Kenyans flee to Uganda ahead of the vote!”.

Today as the Kenyans went to vote there was a lot of uncertainty. The morning started off with sad news; men with machetes attacked and killed four police officers in the coastal town of Mombasa.

Kenyan citizens are using social media to tweet and retweet instant updates as the polls take course to keep the rest of the world updated. This morning I added my own voice to the millions of tweets to wish my Kenyan friends peace.

This is the major reason why some people urge that citizen journalism is killing traditional journalism. But the way new media works is it gives anyone freedom to take control of it and share their opinion fast and wide.

Media reports about the election process in Kenya can easily influence people’s reaction or even mislead them. I know that the media has the right to operate freely but it must operate in an ethical way. Understanding and respecting the aspect of culture is very important and it helps NOT to speak too fast.

Foreign media houses such as CNN have a record of making their stories “sexy” for their international audience. One of their stories in 2012 angered Kenyans when CNN interpreted grenade attacks in Nairobi as “Violence in Kenya”. Thanks to social media the Kenyans quickly hit back at CNN forcing CNN to take the story down and immediately apologize.

Ni Si Si got me thinking deeply about the people of Kenya, my friends who live and work there. It also got me thinking about what peace in Kenya means to countries like Uganda and Rwanda that depend on Kenya’s Mombasa port for most of their consignments.  In 2007 Uganda suffered the biggest fuel shortage ever. Fuel prices skyrocketed in a matter of hours and in a couple of days the transportation system was almost crippled.

My tweet of the day came from Calestous Juma ‏@calestous  “BREAKING NEWS: Foreign reporters clash in #Kenya amid growing scarcity of bad news. #kenyadecides

I believe that from the civic education campaigns Kenyans have learnt how to handle and validate information. One thing true, Kenyans have learnt how to use social media to tell their own stories. No wonder Nairobi is one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the world.

For now we do not know what will come out of the elections but we know that the election process has been by far too good. And I can tell you this because I know that in Uganda it doesn’t get better than this either.

I hope that the process ends peacefully and that the people of Kenya continue to stand together and pray for peace for their great nation.

Question remains, has the media learnt a lesson from the previous events?





The big shift in the flow of knowledge – From Developing Countries to the “Developed Countries”

11 04 2012

Pupils in Kitgum, Northern Uganda

Uganda before me

So Great Britain colonized Uganda for 66 years (from 1896 to 1962). In 1962 Uganda got her independence and since then Uganda has been led by Ugandan presidents. Somewhere in between 1962 and 1986 there were quite a number of civil wars and military coups in Uganda.

In 1987 I was born, was a few months after the end of the war which saw the incumbent president of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni over throw Idi Amin.  My mother told me a lot of stories about the 1986 coup and how my family had to move places running away from war.

The real story

But that is not the real story. The real story is that even though developing countries have over the years looked up to the so called “developed countries” as the sources of knowledge, pace and trend makers, in reality there has been a huge backward-shift in knowledge and information sharing patterns. Today we are witnessing more knowledge gaps in the developed countries. We are seeing outstanding personalities originally from the developing countries rising on to the international scene.

Rewind

Unfortunately on many of my international trips people still ask me about Idi Amin – one of my recent encounters was in South Africa in 2010 when a stranger from Zimbabwe read off my conference tag that I was from Uganda. He posed a bit before he asked me – so, you are from Uganda? The land of Idi Amin.

Usually I want to tell people that I never even knew him (Idi Amin) – even though I learnt a lot about him in School. I was born a year after the fall of his regime and even though he was the president of Uganda at some point, his legacy doesn’t represent the Uganda/ Ugandans of today. But then again how much can you teach a person whose knowledge about your country is only until 1986?

Earlier I watched this “A Dam Relief begins in May 2012 – Uganda’s Truth will follow” video and at some point a bunch of Americans are asked what they know about Uganda or even whether they have considered coming to Uganda on holiday – the lady in the video says “Uganda has never actually appeared to me as a place for holiday”!

The Uganda I live in

This is when I want to scream that Uganda is actually the Pearl of Africa, home to the Source of the Nile, the famous snow capped Mountain Rwenzori, Lake Bunyonyi the second deepest lake in Africa, home of various and unique cultures. That Uganda flourishes with wild life..holds the most potential in uncovered wild life.. That Uganda is a peaceful country and full of life.

More Knowledge gaps

It is quite interesting and rather DEPRESSING every time I learn that people in the so called developed countries know so little about Uganda and other developing countries at large. I watched the above video just a few minutes ago and all I see is a huge imbalance in knowledge.

On my international travels people ask me “where did you learn to speak English? Its quite interesting to hear that you can speak so well!” So I explain how English is my official language extra. Apart from speaking English so well, I also know a lot about North America, parts of Europe, Asia and of course lots about Africa – the cultures, economic activities or geography of these regions. This is because my (Uganda’s) education system makes it mandatory for me to learn about the world at different levels through my education.

When I reflect on all this ignorance I appreciate that my education system opens boarders and teaches me about the parts of the world which as a child or student I never even imagined I would visit in my life. As I speak, I have been blessed to see different countries across Africa, parts of North America, Asia and spent a couple of hours in Middle East.

However, I am very much concerned and disappointed when I learn that the rest of the world learns almost nothing about my country, culture extra.

The new era of human interaction

Thank God for the social media and interactive social networks! People can now share information and learn about cultures in very interactive ways. But then again, this opportunity is a take or leave for many of the young teenagers who should learn about as much about the world they live in.

Question remains: Is this shift in the knowledge sharing patterns going to be effective if the countries in the west do not make it mandatory for the children to learn about the east the same way my education system does?