On behalf of the Chairperson of Uganda Joint Christian Council, The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali (Archbishop of the Church of Uganda) and the Co-chairpersons, Archbishop Dr. Cyprian Lwanga of Kampala Archdiocese and Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga of Uganda Orthodox Church, I wish to extend to you warm greetings at this time when we are preparing to commemorate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the same spirit, I wish to salute all friends of Uganda.
Every year, Christians come together for Good Friday Celebration of the Public Way of the Cross. This celebration reminds us about the suffering which our Lord Jesus Christ underwent so that we can be reconciled to God the Father.
This Year, on Friday, 3rd April, 2015, the main celebration of the Public Way of the Cross will be held in Nakivubo in Kampala. Christians from all over the City are expected to march from various designated locations within the City beginning at 8.00am and will converge at Nakivubo Stadium for an ecumenical service that will begin at 10.30am. The theme of the Celebration is “Make every effort to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace’’ (Eph4:3).The preacher will be the Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga.
I would therefore like to take this opportunity to appeal to all Christians in and around Kampala to come for the celebration of the Public Way of the Cross in Kampala in which we expect tens of thousands to participate. We are working hand in hand with the Uganda Police to ensure that law and order is maintained.
Fellow citizens, as we commemorate the Easter Season, we should bear in mind that there are very many challenges facing our people in every sector of life. These challenges range from poor service delivery and corruption in public offices to gender-based violence and political discord. It is our common duty as citizens of Uganda to seek solutions to these problems. In that regard, we would like briefly address ourselves to some of the above challenges facing the country:
Poor quality Education
Education is the key to a secure future. Quality education based on good syllabus and a good environment for learning prepares the learner for the challenges of life by providing knowledge and skills which can be applied to solve various problems. The Universal Primary Education (UPE) is a good policy but the implementation of the Policy leaves much to be desired. Many public schools have shortage of qualified teachers. They also lack basic instructional materials. Besides, many pupils learn on empty stomach. These, coupled with high levels of poverty in many parts of the country, constitute barriers to effective learning, hence poor performance, especially in rural schools where poverty rate is high.
With the above concerns in mind, we would like to urge the Government to review the UPE Policy with the aim of eliminating major barriers to learning. This can be achieved by, inter alia, increasing capitation grant [which is quite minimal] and plugging other loopholes that have affected the smooth implementation of the Policy, notably shortage of teachers and instructional materials. In the same spirit, we would like to urge the foundation bodies to join hands with the school management committees and Parents Teachers Associations to continually engage parents on the importance of prioritizing the education of their children
Corruption is a product of dishonesty. It entails illegitimate use of position of authority or influence to get money or other kinds of personal advantage. It takes various forms such as inflating the cost of goods and services, extorting money as a reward for providing a service which one is paid to provide, and bribing officials in order to get a job, promotion or award of a tender. It is saddening to note that corruption which is major cause of poor service delivery is getting entrenched in the country. Although Uganda has good laws for tackling corruption such as the Leadership Code of Conduct, the Whistle Blowers Act and the Inspectorate of Government Act, the implementation of these laws leaves much to be desired. The Office of the Auditor General issues annual reports showing high levels of corruption in government departments and agencies. These reports are debated by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament but many people who are implicated in corrupt transactions are not brought to book. As result, Ugandans are getting increasingly upset and disappointed. We urge the Government to demonstrate the necessary political will to fight this evil by taking bold action against public officers who are implicated in bribery and abuse of office.
Crime and lawlessness
Uganda’s national motto is “For God and My Country.”The motto serves as reminder that as Ugandans, our thoughts, decisions, actions and the way we respond to situations should always be guided by the values of love and respect for fundamental rights and human dignity. In that regard, we are concerned about increased tendencies of lawlessness among our people as evidenced by successive Uganda Police Crime and Traffic Offences Reports which continue to show a steep rise in cases of violent crimes. For example, The Report of 2014 states that a total of 2,326 homicide cases were investigated in 2013 compared to 1,910 cases in 2012. The report also states that there were 315 incidences of death through domestic violence compared to 154 cases in 2012. According to the Report, the above incidents were linked to family wrangles and acting under the influence of alcohol and resulted into the death of 360 people of which 159 were male adults, 159 were female adults, 36 were male juveniles and 18 were female juveniles. Early this week, Ms Joan Kagezi, a senior government lawyer who was prosecuting terrorism cases was gunned down under unclear circumstances. We condemn her murder and similar incidents of violent crime!
We would like to commend the Uganda Police Force for efforts they are making in containing lawless elements. At the same time we urge the Police to desist from using brutal methods against suspects. It is only by observing the rule of law that the Police can win the confidence of Ugandans as it strives to maintain law and order. We also urge law abiding Ugandans to cooperate with law all enforcement agencies in maintaining law and order and especially in fighting terrorism.
General Elections in 2016
Elections provide opportunities for Ugandans to assert their power by electing their political leaders. Our laws provide for free and fair elections based on the principles of universal adult suffrage and equality of every vote cast. As we approach the next General Elections in 2016, Ugandans expect the Government to heed the demands of Ugandans for electoral reforms. These demands are lawful and legitimate and are informed by discomforting experiences with elections of 2001, 2006 and 2011 that were characterized by disenfranchisement of voters, voter bribery, intimidation, violence and other electoral malpractices.
The Government has acknowledged the need for electoral reforms and has indicated on many occasions that bills for electoral reforms would be tabled before Parliament ahead of the General Elections in 2016. It is a matter of grave concern for us that up this time which is barely five months to the period set by the Electoral Commission for nomination of candidates and campaigns for various elective positions the Government has not yet published the bills on electoral reforms. The delay by the government in tabling proposals for electoral reforms is causing discomfort to many Ugandans. What is particularly discomforting is the fact that the Government has had more than four years to do the necessary groundwork. If we may ask, why is Government taking so long to table proposals for electoral reforms? Are some people in Government sleeping on their job or are those concerned deliberately delaying the process of electoral reforms?
In the circumstances, we would like, once again, urge the Government[as we did in our Christmas Season Message, 2014] to prioritize the publication of bills on electoral reforms so as to give Ugandans reasonable time to discuss and propose changes in the interest of ensuring free, fair and credible elections. In the same spirit, we would like to urge every Ugandan to embrace the challenge of nation building by actively participating in actions aimed influencing the way this country is governed. We call upon every citizen to exercise their constitutional obligation of demanding accountability and using power given to him or her under the Constitution to work for a better Uganda founded on the principles of Unity, Peace, Freedom, Democracy, Equality, Social Justice and Progress. We shall support every legitimate move that is aimed at promoting free and fair elections!
We wish you Happy Easter Celebrations!
Rev. Fr. Dr. Silvester Arinaitwe