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Dar: Court imprisons Ekelege for three years

Former Director General of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), Charles Ekelege, has been sentenced to three years in prison and fined USD 42,543 (roughly70.2m/- at the current rate) after the Kisutu Resident Magistrate found him guilty in three counts including conducting motor vehicle inspection abroad.

Though in total he has been sentenced for three years – each count one year – the punishment is co-current and hence he will be behind the bars for only one year. 

He was charged with abuse of office and occasioning $42,543 (over 70.2 m/-) loss to the government when he approval a waiver beyond 2m/-  for two firms against board procedures.

The verdict was read yesterday by Resident Magistrate Augustina Mmbando who presided over the case.  She said the prosecution with the assistance of seven witnesses was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offence.

Before reading the verdict, Magistrate Mmbando asked the prosecution if they had any recommendation. 

Led by Janet Machulya, a state attorney representing the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), the prosecution requested the court to met severe punishment to the accused.

Machulya claimed that the punishment would be a lesson to him and other public officials while carrying out their duties. She said the stiff punishment was taking into consideration the fact that Ekelege was given big responsibilities and that he failed to serve and caused a pecuniary loss to the government.

Praying for mitigation through his advocate Majura Magafu, Ekelege requested the court to reduce punishment because he has a family which depends on him and his parents are old and they all depend on him.

She said that the accused will serve one year in prison for the first count, one year for the second count and another one year for the third counts, and that all go co-current.

Delivering the judgment Magistrate Mmbando said that Ekelege while serving as the director general of TBS knew that his limit to approval waiver was up to 2m/- only and not more than that.

She said that Ekelege pretended that he was ignorant of the waiver and issued up to USD42, 543 to Quality Motors of Hong Kong and Jaffar Mohamed Ali Garage of Dubai.

Magistrate Mmbando said that Ekelege was aware of TBS procedures he was advised by Joshua Katabwa who is an engineer in the TBS Certification Department.
She said even if the accused was not to be told he had to know it on his own as the boss for the institution.

She said that the accused knew that he caused loss to TBS but he remained quiet up to the time of internal and external audit after several years after the auditor report. 

The magistrate noted that it was obvious that the application for the waiver was only presented to him, which he approved and implemented.
Mmbando further said that Ekelege during his defence lied to the court that Bethuel Matemba was present when approving the said application – while knowing that Matemba is dead.

 “As overall in charge who has experience and was appointed by President had the responsible to know his level of approving waiver is 2m/- and not more than that. He understands TBS regulation and that an amount like USD 42,543 should be done by the board,” noted the magistrate.

The vehicle inspection scam, which led to the suspension of the TBS boss, came to light in June 2012 after the Parastatal Organizations Accounts Committee (POAC), a parliamentary subcommittee, revealed that TBS inspect motor vehicles abroad contrary to its records and proclamations.

The parliamentary committee’s report showed that TBS provided the oversight team with wrong information on motor vehicle inspection offices in various countries.


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Uganda: Government issues new tough rules for private schools


No proprietor will be licensed to start a private secondary school unless they have at least seven full-time teachers—three of whom should be teaching sciences or mathematics. Also, whoever heads a school must be a university graduate.

The order is among a new set of guidelines the government has issued for people seeking to open private schools.

On enrolment, one will only be allowed to open a private primary school if they have at least 55 pupils enrolled in each class while the minimum number for secondary schools is 40 students per class.

According to Mr Ismail Mulindwa, an assistant commissioner in the Education ministry, the guidelines have been prompted by a recent survey which revealed that many private schools were operating in contravention of the Education Act 2008.

“These new guidelines will serve as benchmarks for our efforts to ensure quality in private sector education provision,” he said in an interview yesterday

New schools, according to the guidelines, will only be registered between October and December and registration certificate will be valid for only five years for secondary schools while primary schools will have to renew their certificates after every two years.

More requirements
“Proprietors intending to register their schools in any given year must ensure that their files are with us by June 30 of the previous year to enable us carry out inspection. Issuing of a new licence will only be done after revalidation of the school,” said Mr Mulindwa.

For boarding schools, dormitories will be inspected and issued with an occupancy permit before students are allowed to take residence. Also to be affected is the nomenclature of schools. No school will be allowed to tag the title “college” or ‘academy’ to its name.
A school will only use the title ‘college’ if its attached to a university or college to demonstrate skills taught there while an ‘academy’ will be one that offers a particular set of skills like military, music or drama.

Mr Mulindwa said although the guidelines are for new schools, the older ones will have to comply with the directives before their current licences are renewed. For those that already have the title ‘college’ or ‘academy’, he said would be advised to change names.

“It was oversight to allow them to operate but we shall sit with the proprietors and ask them to change the names,” he said

Reacting to the new guidelines, Mr Hassadu Kirabi, the head of research at the National Private Educational Institutions Association, protested the conditions on registration, saying they are unfair and will lock out many potential investors.

“We agree with other changes but the issue of putting a limit on the period we are supposed to register is unfair. Registration is not a one-day deal and given the paper work involved, they should leave it open,” he said yesterday.

In 2009, government closed a total of 398 schools for failure to meet minimum operational, safety and security standards as stipulated in the Education Act, 2008.

This followed several school fires which destroyed property worth billions and in some cases—deaths of students.

A recent report by the ministry revealed fewer private schools were adhering to set minimum standards compared to the public ones.

Overall, 45.8 per cent of schools inspected were rated fair, followed by 27.7 per cent as unsatisfactory, 25.2 per cent scored “good” while only 1.2 per cent were rated very good.

Also, grading of private schools in 2011 by government saw no school make it to the “excellent” category while only nine of the 2,073 made it to “class B”.

Some key rules

Ownership: Change of school ownership or location will only be allowed at the end of year to avoid interrupting school operations.

Qualification: Matrons must have a minimum academic qualification of primary seven and not below 30 years.

Security: School guards must be on surveillance of premises 24-hours and must have basic security knowledge.

Medical checkups: Matrons and school cooks must be examined medically every after six months.

Exits: Two emergency exits in each dormitory is a must.

Fire: Erect secure fence and installing fire protection systems. 

Sanitation: Dustbins and incinerators as well as erecting appropriate kitchens with utensils dying racks must be provided.

Names: School names with a relationship with other countries /organisations will only be used with explicit written permission from embassies of those countries.

Source: Daily Monitor (Uganda)

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Somalia sues Kenya at top UN court over maritime border

Somalia took its maritime border dispute with Kenya to the United Nations' top court on Thursday, which could decide the fate of potentially lucrative oil and gas reserves off east Africa.

The dispute has been simmering for years, keeping investors away because of the lack of legal clarity over who owns potential offshore oil and gas reserves.

The internationally-backed government in Mogadishu is seeking to claw back authority over Somalia's territorial waters, including the area bordering Kenya that is potentially rich in oil and gas deposits.

Kenya, which has had troops in southern Somalia since 2011, first as an invading force and then as part of an African Union peacekeeping force, lays claim to a triangle of water stretching for more than 100,000 square kilometres (40,000 square miles) that Mogadishu also claims.

Nairobi has already awarded exploration contracts to international firms despite the legal uncertainty.

"Somalia requests the court 'to determine, on the basis of international law, the complete course of the single maritime boundary dividing all the maritime areas appertaining to Somalia and to Kenya in the Indian Ocean'," the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said in a statement.

Somalia, which lies to the north of Kenya, wants the maritime border to continue along the line of the land border, to the southeast.

Kenya however wants the sea border to go in a straight line east, giving it more sea territory.

Both countries have recognised the court's jurisdiction, the ICJ said, a prerequisite for cases there to continue.

"Diplomatic negotiations, in which their respective views have been fully exchanged, have failed to resolve this disagreement," the ICJ quoted Somalia as saying in its application.

Kenya's large military presence in Somalia is part of the African Union force supporting the country's fragile government.

Cases at the Hague-based court can take years.

Established in 1945, the ICJ is the UN's highest judicial body and the only one of five principal UN bodies not located in New York.

Source: Daily Nation Kenya & AFP

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