My hat’s off to Uhuru(Swahili term for “freedom”) Muigai Kenyatta!


My hat’s off to Uhuru(Swahili term for “freedom”) Muigai Kenyatta. He has had his ups and downs as a president, but his best work, at least, belies the claims made by his opponents. He’s been in office since 2013 but he seems to have won so many ‘trophies’ in his first season compared to a certain manager I know who has been around for 31 years and achieved so little. He won my respect in 2007 when, as leader of opposition, he backed Mwai Kibaki for re-election in the December 2007 presidential election. Who does that in Africa, man? No wonder even Moi wanted him to succeed him before he left office. He’s just one of those guys who sincerely love their country, very principled but cool at the same time. KANU would still be in comma, as Uganda’s UPC, if Uhuru had not won against Nicholas Biwott for chairmanship of KANU in 2005. Kenyans should just give him another ‘kisanjja'(term)!

I won’t fault some people’s opinion on Mr.Freedom(Uhuru) as a dictator. My statement originates from a comparison with other East African leaders.I happen to put him on the top of the mountain as the best leader in East Africa right now. He moves me, there seems to be a rare depth of character and patriotism around him, and he has been a terrific influence on the Kenyans ever since he became a president.That seems pretty subjective, though. And I’m not talking about the recently launched railway services and whatever he has done for Kenyans, but I’m looking at him as a leader. He is intelligent in delivering speeches, yet humble in presentation.No boastful uproars, no calling himself a ‘leaopard’ nor outbursts yet he comes from a very rich background. He was born in money. Humility is a trait of true masters.

People can talk about the violence in the last Kenya presidential elections, and the subsequent ICC charges, but this is like continuing to look at your wife as a prostitute because you met her on a street or bar in town. The truth is that few African leaders can boast of having come to power through legal means, if you know what I mean.What counts is the quality of the final products, not the process of composition. Uganda’s Museveni came through violence but just look at the quality of life in Uganda for the last 31 years, its as bad as the word itself.

There is no absolute ranking criteria for dictators but I would rank our Museveni as the worst dictator in East Africa though he is a millitary genius.I would say someone is a genius only if he/she is born with exceptional talent.It takes tremendous analytical talent to find the right people to bring one to power via a guarilla war, a war that is usually lost by most leaders.It takes tremendous millitary talent to control and find the right people to defeat all the rebel groups that were in the country between 1986 and 2004, and later on wage wars in neighbouring countries and come out on top.That Museveni could do both, and both supremely well, is proof of his genius. And that’s sums up as the only thing I admire about him( apart from his sense of humour too). He is actually not bothered with the wananchi(common citizens) at all as long as he keeps himself in power forever, and that makes him the worst leader in East Africa.

Tanzania’s Magufuli moved me a little bit at the beginning, but as of recent, he has shown serious signs of dictatorship in his armour, and I think he risks losing the next presidential elections. One could make a case for his humility, I suppose, but I think he is just a perfectionist, and very hard on himself, which is a little different.

With Kagame, I rank him as the second most useful dictator in East Africa.He has been innovative (in certain aspects). And deeply conservative in many more, but has got Rwanda into the ‘premiership’ and ready to take off. I just hope that he let go and let somebody else move the country forward.Once upon a time, I used to be more fond of him, not any more. He is as arrogant and merciless as they come!

Mbu Magufuli’s ‘gas’ has gone!

My Tanzanian friend has told me: ‘Magufuli ana badiriika moto enapunguwa”….meaning ‘magufuli agenda akyuka. Omulilo gugenda gugwamu’

duality

RIP Patrick Karegeya but your murder has shaken up a lot of people!

Friends,
Patrick Karegeya’s murder has shaken up a lot of people especially considering the fact that a person he considered as a friend might have been used as an angel of death to lure him into that hotel in South Africa. This is so bad. We are wasting Africa’s valuable human resources. This guy was a lawyer and soldier, and we have wasted him in seconds. It’s so sad! How many people are we wasting like that? This is serious, guys!

So, next time anybody is asked to meet up for a cup of coffee or a “quickie” somewhere, they gonna be terrified. It’s just difficult to know who to trust now especially if one is seriously involved in African politics!

Sex is every man’s weakness as it has brought down even the greatest of leaders. For example, Nigeria’s Abacha was poisoned by an Indian prostitute. Women use sex to get what they want even under normal situations, and that makes some men feel a bit dense at times! But what do we do now? Are those opposed to the government not supposed to have quickies, or if they are to have them, are they supposed do so at a public space as the constitutional square,i.e, make it a matter of “bend over, babe” somewhere in the corner of the building instead of hiring a hotel? Because I’m sure as hell that most men are never gonna refuse sexual offers whether they are in opposition or not. What is the best “condom” way of protecting oneself in these situations? Religion?

What has Tinyefunza got to say about this? What about president Museveni? Have they said anything so far? Karegeya(RIP) was part of the NRA struggle in the 1980s,right? He was born in Mbarara and we educated him, right? He has been murdered in South Africa but all of a sudden everyone have lost their tongues? Unbelievable! Hello Mande Samson! Hello Kiiza Besigye!

Abbey

Nobody knows if Obote Poisoned Mutesa or not

Folks,
It is very difficult to prove whether Obote poisoned Muteesa or not. All i know is that leaders have always been poisoned by their opponents. Even Yasser Arafat is rumored to have been poisoned at some point but he did not die. He instead later developed some irreversible health problems that kept him shaking while talking in public. The poison was reportedly made from Moscow by Russian Jews but he survived.

So whether Obote Poisoned Muteesa or not, we shall never know. Like i one time said, people sent on the missions to eliminate certain people also end up being eliminated at some stage to get rid of the evidence. So, never accept such a mission if you want to live longer- because you also become a target.

Some poisons are untraceable or break down so quickly before the person dies as to be undetectable at the time of death. The most common one is ARSENIC. Ukraine’s nationalist leader Viktor Yuschenko, Chechen Independence fighter Khattab, and Litvinenko were all victims of untraceable poisons. Victor Yuschenko’s face looked like one of the monsters from a scary movie after he survived poisoning. I used to watch him on TV and i thought to myself:’now that is a real survivor and politician’.

Prolixin is traceable but I doubt if Mulago or any hospital in Uganda has got the equipment to test it. Another untraceable poison is called biotoxin ricin, which is made from the Castor bean plant. It is rumored that Pope John Paul I was killed by Italian mafias using this kind of untraceable poison.

The fact is that people all over the world, especially politicians, are eliminated using poison. If you don’t want to accept this, then you will the day they turn you into a cabbage. As my elder brother used to say: ‘man can disappoint man’. So, in most cases people are poisoned by those closest to them.

Poisoning is not only about being involved in politics or being at log heads with the government. If you want to become a ‘boiled egg’, it’s up to you but you must be alert all the time. I have got a friend of mine living in London but we were in Namagabi UMEA in Kayunga together. Her husband went to visit his relatives in Tororo a couple of years ago, I think. He was reportedly poisoned while he was with his relatives celebrating something. On their way back to Kampala, he started complaining of stomach pains. They rushed him to Mbale hospital but they told them to send him to Mulago. He died on the way to Mulago.

I really felt bad because they had two kids with his wife and last time I checked, the girl was struggling with life.

Then another friend of mine, again living in London, was also poisoned in some restaurant in Sseta( Mukono). She is not even in politics or anything like that. She is just a normal lady who had gone to buy herself a plot of land to start building her house. She was rushed to hospital and fortunately she survived.

Please should take this issue seriously, Poisoning whether intentional or not is part of Kampala restaurants and the society at large. People used to waste time with witchcraft ( eddogo) but not anymore. They are getting practical!

Last word on economy as we enter 2012

Anyway, Europe is ‘burning’ down. It is just a matter of time before the European Union is declared dead. Italy’s economy is also in a mess, a reason why former Prime Minister, Berlusconi, had to resign. What is happening in Italy is worse than Greece. Spain will also be crying next after Italy. I wonder how the small countries that had just joined EU are doing.

If Germany decides to leave the Euro zone, that will be it. Already the British are threatening to leave as they have got one leg outside Europe. People here in the UK are demanding for a referendum they were denied in the 1st place.

I think the architects of the revived East Africa Community (EAC) have got a lot of lessons to learn from this. EAC community mainly failed because of the imbalances in the economics of the member states, and these conditions are still in place, so they should go slow on the federation.

For the meantime, if I were Museveni, I would grant federalism to the regions that are asking for it. It will reduce the pressure that comes from the centre. Let’s face it: African economies are going to get worse in the next 2-5 years before things get any better. Museveni is presiding over a very angry/ hungry population such that I don’t know how he is going to keep things altogether in the 4 years. People are poor and they have had enough. If he decides to give federalism to some parts of the country, he will reduce this pressure on himself.

Happy new year everyone

Abbey Semuwemba

Nobody knows who Exactly killed Fred Rwigyema but I highly doubt if Museveni was involved

Gen Fred Rwigyema

Friends,

I highly doubt whether NRA killed Fred Rwigyema as has been speculated by some people on several forums. Fred Rwigyema was so close to Museveni for him to kill him like that. Why? He was among the first 27 who attacked the Kabamba Military School to get hold of weapons to fight Obote’s government in 1980s. He had been a member of FRONASA before this attack. FRONASA was created in exile in Tanzania in 1973. Fred was in Tanzania with Museveni throughout the struggle against Iddil Amin in 1970s. He was never sent to Mozambique to do military training as the Augustine Ruzaindanas.

Paul Kagame and Rwigyema stood by Museveni during the UNLA/UNLF days even when he was terribly defeated in the 1980 elections. They were both among the original members of UPM in the 1980s. Fred Rwigyema was reportedly a people’s person in the NRA. Actually one Ugandan based in Australia, Dr.Kipenji Owor, wrote on Ugandans At Heart( UAH) forum to say that Rwigyema was Museveni’s personal driver during the 1980 campaigns.

Fred Rwigyema headed the RPF assault on Rwanda. He was deputized at the time by Lt.Colonel Adam Waswa, and five other majors: Peter Banyingana, Christopher Bunyenyezi, Samuel Kanyemera, Paul Kagame and Stephen Nduguta.

RPF have never officially told anybody who exactly killed Fred Rwigyema. When Fred Rwigyema was killed, his death was kept a secret for a while. He was killed on the second day of the RPF attack on Habyarimana’s forces. He was the only casualty on that day. Can you imagine the commander of an army being the only casualty in such a war on their 2nd day of attack? I think these are the questions that make some people to think that Museveni and Kagame had something to do with it but I highly doubt Museveni’s involvement in this. Museveni was very close to Fred Rwigyema. I also don’t think Kagame was directly involved because he was on study leave in USA. But you never know with these situations though I guess both Museveni and Kagame know who the real killers are.

One theory on how Fred Rwigyema was killed is that he was shot by his 2nd in command, Major Banyingana, after a quarrel over military tactics. Banyigana and his friend, Bunyenyezi were later tried and shot by an RPF military court on orders of Paul Kagame who had then taken command of the organization.  This version was supported by even the French government at the time going by the interview given by the French diplomat at their embassy in Kampala on 28th January 1991.

The second theory is that his killers are still alive and free in Rwanda. And this is based on an interview Teddy Ssezi-Cheeye of the Weekly Topic/Uganda confidential, who is now in Luzira prison over corruption charges, reportedly had with Major Peter Banyingana inside Rwanda on 5th October 1990. If Banyingana was not killed as we were made to believe then who exactly killed Fred Rwigyema? Teddy claims to have seen him with his own eyes.

So, basically, we don’t know who killed Fred Rwigyema but there are a lot of theories flying around among the Rwandese. Like most political murders, those who are sent to do it get eliminated straightway, and those sent to eliminate them are never told why they are doing so.

Abbey.K.S

Museveni’s Assassinations Claims are Giving me Sleepless Nights!

Dear readers,

The recent revelations in Assange’s Wikileaks and Timothy Kalyegira’s Uganda Record about how president Museveni is worried that he may be assassinated by Libya’s Gaddafi, have brought me some sleepless nights. Political assassinations are not something we should encourage on our continent. Museveni may be a bad leader for us now but assassinating him can plunge our country into some form of endless violence and conflicts ,as happened in Rwanda after the assassination of Habyarimana. We don’t need that at the moment, and I certainly believe that Gadaffi does not want Uganda to end up in that state.

I have no connections with Uganda intelligence but I still believe that president Museveni just panicked to the extent of seeking US help; because he pushed his buttons too far as far as Gadaffi is concerned. To be fair to Gadaffi, I’m one of those who really dream about a United States of Africa (USA), an idea Gadaffi is championing now and trying to sell to other African leaders.

Gadaffi is not someone anyone would wish to mess with because he has shaken big nations such as USA before and they did not like it. So it’s not wise for Museveni to start pumping his testosterones publicly when engaging such a character. We need to find a common ground as far as Libya is concerned.

Nevertheless, something interesting is boiling up in all these assassination reports though we don’t know if there are true or not: President Museveni’s end looks to be nearer but how will it be? I think that is the question on most people’s minds because our president has been in power for so long.This has forced me to compare President Museveni and Habyarimana, and see if there have got any similarities or differences, though i pray that the ending is not the same.

Habyarimana just like Museveni came into power through violence. While Museveni’s violence was justified because he had to get rid of Obote Dictatorship and had a convincing democratic plan on paper, Habyariman’s was not because his coup did not have any democratic plan ahead. Habyarimana came into power when the order of the day in East Africa was getting rid of presidents through coups. Amin ousted Obote in 1971 and Habyarimana did the same on Kayibanda two years later.

Both Habyarimana and Museveni introduced something called ‘the Movement’ when they came into power. Everyone in their respective countries was required to be a member of this so called ‘Movement’.Museveni’s Movement is now a political party and enjoying most of the state benefits.

Habyarimana hated the ‘tutsis’ just as it is claimed by some people though I’m not sure, that president Museveni hates some tribes in the north. Habyarimana had only one Tutsi in his cabinet, one ambassador in the Foreign Service, and two deputies in the national assembly. He kept a picture of Tutsi huts in flames in his presidential house.

Habyarimana, just like Museveni, was also friends with the Bakiga communities. It is actually claimed in some circles that Habyariman was a mukiiga not a true munyarwanda.Bakiiga were Museveni’s allies in Luwero bush war though some have started falling out with him.

Habyarimana’s end came through assassination and this is what is worrying me as a Ugandan if such a scenario was to happen to Museveni. I think some sections of the Hutus in Rwanda and the Tutsis in both Uganda and Rwanda masterminded the assassination of Habyarimana. When RPF was launched in 1987 in Kampala, one of their main aims was to force the return of Tutsi back to Rwanda whether Habyarimana wanted it or not. There were to do this using all the necessary means. General Rwigyema joined RPF in 1988 and later about 4000 Tutsis also deserted UPDF for RPF with the sole purpose of fighting the Habyariman government.

On the other hand, some sections of the Hutu radicals in Rwanda were not happy with the Arusha agreement of August 1993 that provided for the establishment of a broad based transitional government that would include the Tustsi. But the truth was that even Habyarimana never believed in this agreement becuse he was a tutsi hater. He just signed it to buy himself time to organise his ‘house’ and probably the hutu radicals knew it as well. So why would they kill him? But then again most of the evidence points to the fact that the Hutu radicals may have killed him. For instance, on 03/04/1994, radio Mille Collines warned that ‘a little something’ was about to happen before Habyariman was killed two days later. This is all confusing because how can a radio make such an announcement and nobody in the intelligence took it seriously. May be the radio was warning Habyarimana. Who knows?

As a Ugandan, I just hope that president Museveni and brother Gadaffi find a way of sorting out their differences very soon because it is not certainly good for Africa if these two guys continue to be on a collision course. Gadaffi is now an old man and a bit wiser. He is not like the Gadaffi of 70s and 80s who used to kick ass all the time. So Museveni should take advantage of this to mend fences with Gadaffi as soon as possible. Personally, i don’t wish president Museveni to die that way and that is why I urge him to improve Uganda foreign relations with our neighbors very soon.Under this environment, anybody can do something to our president right now,very well knowing that fingers will be pointed at Libya.

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba

Female Circumcision is still a Big Worry for the World that requires urgent attention

Sabiny girls after the circumcision ritual in Bukwo district(Courtesy of the Newvision)


Dear readers,

The article on the front page of Newvision on 04/12/10 showing pictures of sabiny girls that had been circumcised is justifiably one of the biggest cultural outcries so far in this year’s presidential elections. Female circumcision is a global problem and I think international organisations such as WHO need to urgently put it on their agenda in future conferences to be held and seriously try to do something about it. I remember watching a documentary on channel 4 here in the UK, a copy I kept up to now, that showed that some Muslim societies ,such as in Egypt, also practicing this evilness in the name of Islam. Female circumcision is done by removing the tip of the clitoris because it is believed that women should not enjoy sex but are to serve only to pleasure the man and have children. These female mutilation things are not a part of Islam. They’re just cultural traditions of a bunch of Arabs who happen also to be Muslim. But it’s sort of like American slaveholders who were Baptists. Slavery isn’t really a part of the Baptist creed even if some slaveholding Baptists thought it should be. There is nothing in the Koran that justifies this behaviour or requires it. CNN one time also ran a series that showed girls being circumcised but there was nothing Islamic about it.

Cutting of the woman’s clitoris is so wrong because it affects her sexual enjoyment and satisfaction. It even makes me sick when I watch some people defend this inhuman behaviour because to defend this behaviour is not only ignorant, but just as inhuman and grossly irresponsible as those who teach it! The whole exercise turns a woman into simply a domestic servant and baby factory. I agree that there should be freedom of cultural thought but certain rituals are detrimental to people and shouldn’t be carried out especially on minors who can’t give proper consent.

Unlike male circumcision, there are absolutely no medical grounds for female circumcision. Male circumcision is practiced by both Muslims and Jews. Historically, Roman emperor Hadrian tried to ban this practice among the Jews as he believed that it stopped them from assimilating with the Greeks and Roman but he found himself with a war on his hands.

It’s true that circumcision is a painful experience as it was done to me when I was above the baby stage. My grandfather who was my guardian deceived me that they were taking me to Kampala city for a ride but I woke up in Kawolo hospital with some pain on my penis. I remember this pain very well because I was a bit older when it was done but I don’t think babies do remember this pain when they grow up. Yes, when there are still babies or infants, they feel and express this pain in stereotypic ways involving vocalization, facial expression, body movements and autonomic activity but they later become OK and smile normally. The wound heals normally without undue bleeding or infection, and the outcome will just be a ‘normal circumcised penis’.

One does not need to be circumcised or uncircumcised first to know the advantages or disadvantages of male circumcision as there is a lot of literature out there about this issue. For instance, there is a big body of evidence that shows that most women prefer circumcised penis for appearance and hygiene. Furthermore, some women are not attracted to the smell of the uncircumcised penis.

Let me elaborate: when a man has got that foreskin still intact on their penis, he feels greater sexual sensation during sex due to the greater sensitivity of the protected glans, and that the foreskin is an erogenous zone in itself. A foreskin and its full complement of ‘neuroreceptors’ (as scientists call them) can easily make the uncircumcised man to come or ejaculate very fast thus leaving a woman in limbo. My understanding is that, because of the protection of the foreskin, the glands of the uncircumcised penis are more sensitive and thus more stimulated. One could deduce that therefore the circumcised penis results in prolonged pleasure due to reduced sensitivity. Since circumcised men have no feeling in their foreskin (in fact, no foreskin at all), the only form of stimulation comes in the form of pressure on the head and the shaft of the penis, and in the orgasm itself. This helps the uncircumcised to prolong during love making and thus helping the women to enjoy the whole game for longer.

Uncircumcised men also often experience pain during their first sexual act while circumcised males do not. This is because the ‘frenulum’ is removed, along with the foreskin, during the circumcision operation. The uncircumcised penis contains a certain piece of skin called the frenulum – that is attached to both the prepuce and the glans of the penis. The frenulum serves the same purpose as the hymen in virgin girls/women, i.e. as a barrier to unwanted or premature sexual activity. During the first act of intercourse (or masturbation), the frenulum is torn from the mucous membrane that keeps it in place, a change that subsequently allows the foreskin to be fully retracted over the entire ‘head’ of the penis.

Uncircumcised men also have to deal with foreskin infections a lot more frequently because of the growth medium the foreskin provides them little bugs. A circumcised penis is easier to keep clean.

There is also evidence to show a lower occurrence of cervical cancer of women married to circumcised men because it (Cervical cancer) is associated with herpes, which is one of those STDs that is curable. Male circumcision also helps preclude a rare kind of penile cancer in males. There is a slightly higher risk of HIV in partners of uncircumcised men due to the human papillomavirus but this can be alleviated with proper hygiene.

Because of the above advantages, there is a wide spread acceptance of male circumcision in the developed nations especially in the United States in comparison to female genital circumcision which tends to be more selfish than anything else.

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba

Inter-state economic disparities stand in the way for common market

Inter-state economic disparities stand in the way for common market

Tuesday, 18 May 2010 06:56 By Abbey K.Semuwemba

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There are numerous coalitions, organisations and federations that have been formed regionally and worldwide. Some have worked and others have failed. The difference with the East Africa Federation is that some states are going through serious economic and political reformation particularly Rwanda and Kenya. Uganda appears still politically immature, but is that enough reason not to promote this federation? I don’t think so. An East African Federation is good. Uganda’s problems may never be removed by Ugandans alone. We need a partner to help us fight these impediments.

Having said that, I also support a Uganda federation within an East African federation. This will be a bonus if we achieve the Uganda federation first before the East African federation. Buganda and some parts of Uganda are rightly asking for federalism within Uganda. Like Dr Kizza  Besigye explained one time on radio, federalism was demanded by majority of Ugandans and therefore it’s not a Buganda issue alone.

The most important question is, have we learnt any lessons from the East African Community collapse in the 1970s? The East African Community collapsed mainly because of the economics involved. If the current architects can create good economic policies, the East African federation will be a rock for all the member states. Therefore, we need to look at why the East African Common Market or the Community collapsed in and whether those mistakes have been corrected. Otherwise we might be pursuing a futile project.

First, the common market was founded in 1917 and collapsed in 1977. This idea was started by the British colonial government to serve her economic interests and those of the British settlers in Kenya. The aim was to create a free and integrated market, sheltered by selective high tariff walls to simultaneously encourage Kenyan settler- businessmen and expand market for foreign exports into East Africa.

This meant that the gains from the Customs Union were either not reaped or the distribution between partner states was not ‘equitable’. When Uganda, Kenya and Tanganyika got independence, the distribution issue caused instability and led to the collapse of the common market. Will Kenya not again be the top beneficiary at the expense of other partner states?

Secondly, the federation is going ahead without assessment the industrial strengths of the partner states, yet this was a major factor in the collapse of the first East African Community.

Kenya, like before, has an advanced manufacturing and service sector. This industrial imbalance indicates lack of equity in the distribution of integration benefits. These mistakes were neither corrected by the ‘Raisman Commission’ in 1960 nor by the Kampala/Mbale Agreement in 1964/5. The latter was never implemented because the Kenya parliament refused to ratify it and the proposed committee of industrial experts was never set up.

After the failure of the Kampala Agreement, the cooperation became so shaky that the Philip Commission was appointed to save the common market. This culminated in the treaty that established an East African Community consisting of a common market and a wide range of common services. Again in this treaty, most activities had their headquarters in Kenya. Have we taken note of this? Is Kenya going to continue playing the role of the ‘boss’ as it was before?

Let’s take an example of the East Africa Development Bank, established with the aim of promoting balanced industrial development. A differential investment formula was proposed. It was then enjoined on the bank so that it should have loaned, guaranteed or invested over the consecutive five years slightly more than 38 percent of its funds to Uganda and Tanzania and the remaining 22 percent or so to Kenya. This failed for some reasons. Have they corrected them?

However, I’m happy that the architects of the East African Federation are rectifying some of the mistakes that led to the collapse of the first federation on July 1, 1977. For instance, having a single currency among member states by 2012 is a step in the right direction. It will somehow lead to balanced development among member states assuming other factors remain constant. The last monetary policy developed by the 1967 East African Community that involved unified exchange rates led to a situation where the Ugandans and Tanzanians preferred to keep their money in Kenyan currency because Kenya had more industrial goods for consumption. This made the Kenyan shilling a stronger currency, which sparked the creation of a black market. The Kenyan currency continued growing stronger while those of Uganda and Tanzania were becoming weaker. This eventually affected the working of the East African Community cooperation by creating the problem of ‘inter-territorial transfer of funds.’ The policy also led to a decline in reserve positions of both Uganda and Tanzania because of currency flights from these two countries, thus exasperating the need for further exchange controls.

Chapter VII, article 24 of the 1967 Treaty for East African Cooperation, provided for exchange rate harmonisation among the three partner states. Harmonised exchange rate means “the relative per values of the currencies of the member states of the common market remain irrevocably fixed while their absolute par values when changed would change in the same proportion.” The three currencies were to be exchanged without restriction at the IMF parity of shilling 1U = sh1K = sh1T. The rate of inflation was assumed to be equal since the absence of equal rates of inflation would automatically mean that a unified exchange rate situation no longer stood. The three currencies for purposes of parities vis a vis the outside were tied at different times to foreign currencies (British pound, US dollar) and to the IMF special drawing rights.

Considering that the three countries had different economic problems and strategies for solving those problems, the policy of exchange rate unification presents real problems in theory as it did in practice in the past. For example, On February 7, 1967, Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere issued a statement of party principles called the Arusha Declaration which called for nationalisation of banks and large enterprises in agriculture, manufacturing, construction and commerce. In May, 1970, Uganda also announced a leftist policy at Nakivubo. These two policies created uncertainty and hurt business confidence in these countries. Both countries imposed exchange control policies to prevent capital flight. This situation created differences in the three currencies and the policy of unified exchange rates collapsed and contributed to the ultimate fiasco of the East African Community.

Abbey is a Ugandan living in the UK

http://www.independent.co.ug/index.php/column/comment/70-comment/2933-inter-state-economic-disparities-stand-in-the-way-for-common-market

Massive Industrialisation in all East African countries will reduce the dominance of Kenya

Dear people,

The remake of the East African common market or community (EAC) is the utopian dream of all good globalists / global socialists like me. “Community” is sometimes called “space” for everybody to enjoy but the EAC goal is clear: a common economic space for all people in the region, a space in which trade, capital, and people flow freely. Therefore, the EAC’s “integrated” strategy calls for a more open border for the movement of goods and people.

However, it is absurd to believe that suddenly we can create a global free trading area, a common market with, for example, Kenya, without massive changes leading to consequences that we cannot anticipate. For example, in common market countries college education is free but where is the room for this in our EAC recently reborn.

The East African Common market was started in 1917 at a pre-industrialisation stage in the region. It was also started to serve the British business interests and those of settlers in Kenya. Therefore, it came as no surprise that when joint services were established in 1945, Kenya benefited more than Uganda and Tanganyika.
Kenya benefitted in terms of :value added to their Gross Domestic Product(GDP); more employment benefits and revenue. For instance, according to the Common market & Economic Affairs Secretariat, in 1971, the East Africa Railways employed: 55% Kenyans, 33% Tanzanians and 12% Ugandans.Kenya also had a higher manufacturing base than either Uganda or Tanzania, a situation that has not changed up to day. Our system is second rate at best, we are far behind Kenya and Tanzania.

As a way of correcting this inequitable situation the British had created in the first place before independence, the colonial government established the Raisman Commission in 1960. According to Professor Brown, who was a member of the Raisman Commission, Kenya gained most from the common market, Uganda gained marginally and Tanzania broken even. Therefore, fiscal compensation to Tangayika and Uganda through the distribution tool was recommended, as one of the solutions to this inequity. Nevertheless, the fiscal compensation failed to solve this problem because the sums involved were far short of what would be needed to lead to developments of industries in the two marginalised countries(Uganda and Tanganyika), and the sums that would be considered adequate would be too great for Kenya to accept. I’m now wondering what exactly was negotiated recently by the architects of the East African community to solve this problem.

In addition, the experience of the European Union and the World Trade Organization makes it clear that a common market requires a court system, so it will be in order for us to have an East African court as soon as possible where cases of higher magnitude will be settled.

But just as in Europe, where such a Common Market led to a European political union, a hemispheric EAC will mean an eventual end of Uganda’s separate identity and national sovereignty. Much as this is good, how do we integrate ideas such as: Buganda federalism or Uganda federalism instead of dreaming that they will just go away with the East African federation? This is something the architects of the E.A.C need to think about now instead of constantly brushing it under the carpet.

We also need a thought through East Africa Constitution that can, for instance, help with guiding the election process and rigging among member countries.Elections have been rigged in Uganda in 1980,2001 and 2006 and Uganda courts admitted this but nothing really changed.We probably need an East African court that can help such things. For instance, In USA, there was “free trade” or common market between the states from 1787 through 1865, and It was the whole point of the new Constitution.

Overall, the main way the East African common market will economically benefit all the member countries is if they all undertake large scale industrialisation projects, because with appropriate distribution, this can reduce substantially the inequality that mainly led to fall of the community in 1977.If we don’t address all this economic imbalances, Kenya will continue to benefit more than others and the EAC Common market will dissolve in future and every country will return to its everyone against everyone else mentality.

Byebyo ebyange


Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
United Kingdom

A War against Alshahab Militants will not make Ugandans safer

Dear people,
I’m not in agreement with those who are supporting the government’s position to wage a full scale war on Alshabab Militants because history has shown that the war on terror, if it is the one we intend to fight, is not won that way. The attack on Al-shabab Militants is a very small, almost incidental part of the War on Terror, certainly not the heart of the matter.

Therefore, I disagree with president Museveni’s war drums since I believe he is not focusing on the problem of terrorism as in terrorism. It seems he has an agenda that has not been presented to the citizens succinctly. I suspect one of the reasons why the government is war mongering is to get people to think of war instead of domestic issues. Most leaders do so to deflect attention from their inadequacies and I simply think that president Museveni is petty.At this time, I really don’t understand our need to go to war with Alshabab despite the recent bombs in Kampala, because we simply don’t have resources to fight such wars. Perhaps some Ugandans are content with his reasons but I’m not impressed with what he has put on the table.

President Museveni should not fall into the traps of the former US president, George Bush, who after Sep 11th attacks on New York, kept telling Americans and the world that the war on terror will be worn, but later to backtrack on this statement some years later, in an interview broadcast by the ‘Today’ show, where he told host Matt Lauer that he doesn’t think his ‘War on Terror’ is winnable. “I don’t think you can win it,” said Bush. “But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.”

Of course some of us had already seen it that a war against terror cannot be won by bombing and waging several wars. Terrorism is a weapon. How do you wage war against a weapon?

Religion
It’s also so unfair and wrong when some people generalise that all Muslims are terrorists because they are quite wrong. While there are some scriptures in the Koran which encourages violence ,it is quite pale compared to the bible and that’s a fact. Secondly, some of these verses were revealed to the prophet depending on the circumstances at the time but some writers manipulate them to fit in today’s surroundings.

I know the Koran has a lot to do with the Old Testament and some Christianity because whatever is in it does not really conflict so much with the original books of earlier prophets. But many historians are frustrated the earliest texts are locked away and have been allowed to rot rather than be examined and copied. Few early copies of Koran have been examined and most findings never publish widely. Much of history is threatened or political correctness forces it off shelves.

There are over a billion Muslims in the world and about 9 millions in Uganda. If they all supported Kampala’s 711th bombings ,we would already have a hell of a problem on our hands. It is therefore wrong to call Somali alshab militants ”Muslim combatants” and ”Jihadists” instead of simply “the terrorists” and the “evil doers”. It is simply an insult to the rest of the peaceful Muslims in Uganda or the rest of the world.

Terrorism is simply a tactic of war and in the past has been used even by the Western democracies, e.g. the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the fire bombings of Hamburg and Dresden Germany. So it is simply wrong to call the warriors of al Qaeda, Hezbelloh, Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, etc, ”Muslim” terrorists.So I have a better idea: Hold individuals accountable for their acts, don’t collectivize and group based on alleged beliefs, and have a counter-terrorism policy that does not play into the hands of extremists who say we are true to our evil core of conquest and killing for the sake of wealth and power.

I must also point out that Islam has no central religious authority like the Vatican in Catholicism. So there is conflict over interpretation of some verses and sayings of the prophet, as some claim Koran calls for slavery to god, others say servant, some obedience, some say it is presented in strict format. So we have Sunni and Shi’te and other splinters all over the place though personally, im just a Muslim without any alliance to any sect.

Some people say that Islam was forcibly exported to other regions but this was also the case for christianity in parts such as Spain and America. Spanish colonialists forcibly exported Christianity and they were after gold, not souls, while the people that conquered what is now Saudi Arabia were unambiguously after souls.I don’t have enough information to measure Saudi religious oppression against, say, that of Spain on its own territory , but there were certainly periods of forcible Christian expansion.

Old pagan religions, Mithraism, Gnosticism, Arianism, and non-Christian Judaism all just didn’t disappear out of Europe because the Catholics employed sweet reason on infidels and heretics. Christianity also came to Europe wading in blood.Besides the Spaniards in the new world, most of European colonialism had a religious component. Europe conquered the world and religion was a part of that.

IPC and terrorism
Now that we already know NRM position on fighting terrorism, we would like to know FDC’s stand on this since we have been reading conflicting reports from the party officials ever since the bombings on 11th July. Is it really asking so much for the second largest political party in Uganda to put forth some official statement of position on terrorism and how to deal with it? It shouldn’t have to be an election trick.IPC should also have an official position on this instead of newspapers quoting Besigye and Lukyamuzi as having different views on the issue.

I think the perception among some Ugandans is that the FDC and the rest of the opposition would simply shut down the war on terror and commit to a policy of appeasement and apologism. So I call upon the opposition to break that perception and show us that there’s other people besides president Museveni committed to addressing the problem of terrorism in Uganda and Africa in general.

Solution to terrorism
I consider terrorists to be like criminals as like any other. As such, the way to get rid of (we’ll never get rid of evil) is to simply limit them through detective work. We can use the military for crushing pesky folks, but the way to limit these folks is through detective work, infiltration, Intel, seizure of money, but military muscle should be a last resort.

One defeats terrorism by undermining the conditions which breed terrorists. Economic inequality, crushing poverty, shattered educational infrastructures, rampant violence and a total lack of hope are the soil in which suicide bombers germinate. Until one get rid of those, there will always be terrorism. Period. Somalia is fertile with such conditions such that a simple act of war will never make Ugandans safer in any way.We should do more assessment before we think of a war with Alshahab militants because i believe it may breed more problems for our people.


Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
Blogs:
http://ugandansatheart.wordpress.com/
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http://ekitibwakyabuganda.wordpress.com/
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Journalists should stick together if they want to fight for Media Freedom in Uganda

Dear readers,

It would be wrong for some Newvision journalists to defend the governnment on media freedom howevermuch they love president Museveni. So many things have been done to journalists under Museveni such that history will judge him harshly:

1n 1993, the government stopped government offices from giving any advertisement business to the Monitor newspaper, just because they wanted to run it down, which some in the NRM call ‘dying naturally due to mismanagement’. The monitor lost about 70% of its advertisement revenue till when this decision was reversed in 1997.

The first journalist to be convicted of sedition charges since independence was haruna Kanabi of the Shariat. This did not happen even under Obote or Iddil Amin. Brother Haruna was jailed for 5 months and its unfortunate that some journalists are not fighting for each other but instead concentrate on praising the regime in power.

In 2002, the Monitor was shut down for a week for publishing a story alleging that a military helicopter had come down while pursuing rebels in northern Uganda. At the moment, all eyes on the Uganda Observer to see if they will survive the onslaught of the government hard arms, after publishing a story claiming that Museveni will chop off Mengo’s head.

On 17th Nov 2005, the Daily Monitor offices were raided by the security operatives because they suspected the newspaper was printing posters appealing to well-wishers for money to defend the then remanded leading presidential challenger, Kizza Besigye, and other political prisoners.

My argument is not based on the latest developments such as: the new media laws banning radio stations from playing  Buganda’s ‘ekitibwa kyabuganda’ or national anthem, the closure of CBS fm and other radio stations; the constant appearance in courts of journalists such Andrew Mwenda; assaulting,torturing, and imprisoning Sserumaga after his appearance on WBS after the Buganda riots, e.t.c. The fact is that there is no press freedom in Uganda and I’m surprised that some  journalists  are defending the government position on this instead of fighting for the rights of the media.

The story published by the weekend Digest in 1986 was false but  it did not warrant closing up the newspaper. How could any foreign power really sabotage Uganda’s peace process by supporting DP millitarily, a party that is always full of ”cowards” as we all know. The paper should never have been closed. May be this action alone should have warned us about president Museveni after closing a paper just 6 months into power.

I don’t know much about what’s happening in other East African countries since some people argue that there is relative media freedom in Uganda compared to our neigbours but i certainly know what happens in the UK and Uganda. All i know is that president Museveni is very good at playing the international image better than any president Uganda has ever had. For instance, Uganda was among the first countries in E.A to sign the Windhoek Declaration on Press Freedom, which was formulated in 1991. This did not mean that president Museveni is for press freedom but he did it to protect his image internationally because 7 years down the line after this, he was trying to get a law that will punish any journalist that publishes ‘false news’. Thank God, the judiciary rejected this in 2004.

‘If a media house is accused of publishing  or airing wrong information/news yet it believes and has evidence that it is right, what should that media house do?

The media house should stick to its story whatever the initimidation from the govt or anybody else. There is no newspaper that publishes something when they have not got some shreds of evidence somewhere,and this is what it bases on to publish a story. Whether the stroy is true or false, that’s another ball game altogether. But then again, who determines what is a wrong story without ”reliable” evidence? For instance, evenif the govt produces a video showing Museveni’s speech in Bunyoro, who determines whether that video is genuine or not? The video can easily be edited by those who want to make the whole thing go away. This is the reason why in 2004 the judge threw out the Section 50 of the Ugandan Penal Code (Cap. 120), which criminalises publication of ‘any false statement, rumour or report which is likely to cause fear and alarm to the public or to disturb the public peace’. It was a fundamental win for the journalists/media in Uganda. The judge declared that section 50 was open to misinterpretation and abuse on political grounds, and therefore was not ‘acceptable and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society’. This was after the govt brought a case against two monitor journalists over ‘false news’.

‘If government finds that a certain media house is publishing or airing wrong information/news, what should the government do?

The government should approach the media house for correction and also issue a warning. Remember a warning is a form of punishment in political terms. If this fails, then courts of law should be involved, and it should be the courts Of law to determine the closure of a media outlet not the govt. We should never allow the government, in this case the president through the media Council or Broadcasting Cooperation, to close down any media outlet. It sets a bad Precedent in the country.

Remember, even the courts are not so free but atleast they cannot easily twist the law in favour of the incumbent. That’s why they should be the one to determine the final fate of any media outlet not the office of the president.The office of the president can always abuse this process, like it was done with the CBS fm.For instance, a magistrate who handled Onyango Obbo and Andrew Mwenda’s case in 1997 over DR Congo story, was corrupt ,but somehow the two journalists survived spending even a day in jail because his hands could not twist the law.

Now ,because the order to close Buganda’s CBS fm came from the executive arm of the govt, every judge in Uganda does not wish to handle that CBS vs Govt case. It is as suicidal as the treason cases brought againt Dr.Kiza Besigye.That’s why courts will keep recommending ‘mediation’ between the CBS and state, because everyone is afraid of pointing it out that CBS was illegally closed.

So what im saying, as long as all  journalists come out with one voice, they will set a landmark for press freedom in Uganda, because atleast Museveni allows them to use the courts to fight for themselves, unlike Obote who used to trash most of the court decisions. But they cannot do this when some of them are praising the president most of the time even he gets it wrong.

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba

Have we learnt any lessons from East African collapse?

Dear Ugandans,

There are so many coalitions, organisations and federations that have been formed in a dictatorial environment. Some have worked and others have not but the difference with the East Africa Federation is that some states in East Africa are going through serious economic and political reformation particularly Rwanda and Kenya. Uganda is still politically immature and that can be seen by every citizen of East Africa, but is that enough reason not to promote this federation, I don’t think so. An East African Federation is a good idea and I support it whatever the environment. Some times, a man needs to marry a bright, clean, intelligent and hardworking woman to reform himself. That’s why some people say that there is a woman behind every man’s success and it is indeed true. The ghosts disturbing Uganda may never be removed by Ugandans alone. We need a partner to help us fight these bad ghosts.

Having said that, I’m also supporting a Uganda federation within an East African federation. This will be a bonus if we achieve the Uganda federation first before the East African federation. Buganda and some parts of Uganda are rightly asking for federalism within Uganda and there is nothing wrong with this. Like Dr.Besigye explained one time on Ngoma radio, federalism was demanded by majority of Ugandans and therefore it’s not a Buganda issue alone.

The most important question here is ‘Have we learnt any lessons from East African collapse? Let us look at the economics of the East African Federation. This federation collapsed once mainly because of the economics that were involved. If the current architects can create good economic policies, the East African federation will be a rock for all members involved. Therefore,we need to look at why the East African Common Market or the federation collapsed in the first place and if those factors have been corrected. If not, we are in danger of not learning from history.

First, the common market was founded in 1917 and collapsed in 1977. This idea was started by the British colonial government to serve British business interests and those of the British settlers in Kenya. The aim was to create a free and integrated market, sheltered by selective high tariff walls to simultaneously encourage Kenyan settler- businessmen and the expansion of foreign manufactured exports into East Africa.

This meant that the gains from a Customs Union were either not reaped or the distribution between partner states was not ‘equitable’. When Uganda, Kenya and Tanganyika got independence, the distribution issue caused instability and led to the collapse of the common market. Will Kenya not again be the top beneficiary at the expense of other partner states? Are the British still having a hand in this idea or it’s an independent one among member states?

Secondly, the federation is going ahead without assessment in the industrial bases of the partner states, yet this was a major factor in the first collapse. Kenya ,like before,has a higher manufacturing and services sector. This industrial imbalance indicates lack of equity in the distribution of integration benefits. These mistakes were neither corrected by the ‘Raisman Commission’ in 1960 nor by the Kampala/Mbale Agreement in 1964/5. The latter was never implemented because the Kenya parliament refused to ratify it and the proposed committee of industrial experts was never set up.

After the failure of the Kampala Agreement, cooperation became so shaky that the Philip Commission was appointed to save the common market. The commission resulted in the treaty that established an East African Community consisting of a common market and a wide range of common services. Again in this treaty, most activities had their headquarters in Kenya. Have we taken note of this? Is Kenya going to continue playing the role of the ‘boss’ as it was before?

Let me give you an example of the East Africa Development Bank, established with the aim of promoting balanced industrial development. A differential investment formula was proposed and enjoined on the bank so that it should have loaned, guaranteed or invested over the consecutive periods of five years slightly more than 38 percent of its funds to Uganda and Tanzania each and the remaining 22 percent or so to Kenya. This failed for reasons well known to some architects of this federation. Have they corrected them?

However,I’m happy that the architects of the East African Federation are rectifying some of the mistakes that led to the final collapse of the federation on July 1st, 1977. For instance,having a single currency among member states by 2012 is a step in the right direction. It will some how lead to balanced development among member states considering other factors remain constant. If we look at the last monetary policy developed by the 1967 East African Community that involved unified exchange rates, it led to a situation whereby the residents of Uganda and Tanzania preferred to keep their money in Kenya currency where there was greater availability of industrial goods for consumption. This made the Kenya currency to emerge as the stronger currency and the development of a black market situation whereby sh.1U ≥ sh.1 T < sh.1 K. Over time the Kenya currency grew stronger while those of Uganda and Tanzania were becoming weaker and this eventually affected the working of the East African Community Corporations by creating the problem of ‘inter-territorial transfer of funds’. The policy also led to a decline in reserve positions of both Uganda and Tanzania because of currency flights from these two countries, thus exasperating the need for further exchange controls.

Chapter VII, article 24 of the 1967 Treaty for East African Corporation, provided for exchange rate unification between the three partner states. Exchange rate unification means a situation where ‘‘the relative per values of the currencies of the members of the common market remain irrevocably fixed while their absolute par  values when changed at all would change in the same proportion’’. The three currencies were to be exchanged without restriction at the IMF parity of shilling 1U = sh.1 k = sh.1 T. The rate of inflation was assumed to be equal since the absence of equal rates of inflation would automatically mean that a unified exchange rate situation no longer stood. The three currencies for purposes of parities vis a vis the outside were tied at different times to foreign currencies (British pound, US dollar) and to the IMF special drawing rights.

Considering that the three East African countries had different economic problems and different strategies for solving those problems, the policy of exchange rate unification which is inconsistent with the pursuance of different monetary policies present real problems in theory as it did in practice with East Africa. For example, On 7 February 1967, Nyerere issued a statement of party principles called the Arusha Declaration in Tanzania that called for nationalisation of Banks and large enterprises in Agriculture, manufacturing, construction and commerce. In May, 1970, Uganda also announced a leftist policy at Nakivubo. These two policies created uncertainty and adversely affected business confidence in these countries in the long run. Both countries imposed exchange control policies with the other partners to prevent capital flight. This situation created differences in the three currencies as viewed by residents and non residents of the common market, seeking to invest in East Africa. Hence the policy of unified exchange rates does not seem to have worked well for East Africa.

Abbey K. Semuwemba,

United Kingdom

Museveni is wrong on traditional leaders

I beg to disagree with president Museveni when he said that traditional leaders have no place in modern politics today. What is happening in Uganda is no different from what is happening in other parts of Africa as some recent years have seen the restoration of different traditional institutions across the continent.

Uganda just like Ghana constitutionally restored traditional leaders in the 1990s.In South Africa of today; about 40% of the population are now ruled in part by 800 traditional chiefs. Traditional chiefs have also been integrated in the political systems in both Mozambique and Benin. Our neighbours in Tanzania have also seen traditional ‘sungusungu’ grass-roots associations taking over police and justice roles.

 In Rwanda, a Rwandan `army of the King’ used guerrilla actions to support the return of exiled King Kigeli V though Kagame has not allowed it up to now, while in Cameroon’s Northern Province; the Sultan of Rey Bouba manages militias and prisons. Our neighbours in the west, the Congolese, have also seen ‘Bami’ chiefs set up a political organisation in the South Kivu region of Congo.

 In Somalia, clans have replaced the state as instruments of collective action. Political leaders in Somalia are agents of foreign forces. In Nigeria, ethnic organisations were restored in the wake of structural adjustment and just like Buganda, chiefs are now demanding for constitutionally sanctioned powers instead of ‘ebyoya byansa’.

In Botswana, democracy is steeped in tradition as local chiefs listen to residents’ complaints, then clerks take notes and action follows. Most villages and towns are still ruled by chiefs, incorporated into the country’s administration. Though unelected, they can lose their position if their subjects are unhappy with them and their decisions can be appealed in court. The experiment in Botswana has made them one of the success stories in Africa and it has also been applied in other countries like Lesotho and Swaziland.

 

The president’s opposition to demands made by Buganda kingdom is for selfish reasons as he does not want to lose direct control of regions. He  is also afraid that his decentralisation system will be weakened with the revival of ‘mixed politics’ or ‘dual political authority’ in Uganda. What he forgets is that this kind of political set up may be what Africa and Uganda needs to stabilise at a time of global changes and institutional weakness. Other people have argued that the incorporation of traditional structures in contemporary systems could improve the governance of African states by building upon the legitimacy of pre-colonial institutions. This arrangement may also be ideal for the decentralisation system as power and authority is delegated to the traditional leaders. With the current economic crisis in the country, the president may find federalism handy as people will stop looking at the central government as the source of bread and butter.

In general, the political case for the integration of traditional structures into contemporary ones has highlighted the democratic nature of recognising institutions with which many Africans still overwhelmingly identify, even though these institutions may not themselves be formally democratic. Economists too have welcomed this new trend. In view of theories that transaction costs can be reduced as a function of the perceived legitimacy of institutions, and that collective action is fostered by the homogeneity of group members. Some authors have suggested that African customary institutions may reduce opportunistic behaviour and display a greater potential for developmental mobilisation than the post-colonial state.

So probably this is our chance to reconcile the traditional system with the modern system brought about by the colonisation of Africans. Giving Buganda kingdom some political powers in form of federalism may be a good start for the structural arrangement of the country before the East African federation. The democracy we have called democracy which is based on elections has not done us that good since independence. There is more corruption in public institutions more than before. Probably formal incorporation of the traditional systems into the modern ones is what Uganda is waiting for .

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba

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Semuwemba is a Ugandan residing in the UK

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"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. "~ Martin Luther King Jr. ~

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