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To cut wage bill, Uganda falls back on 10-year plan

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By JONATHAN KAMOGA
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In an effort to cut government expenditure and stop duplication of roles, Uganda is scrapping some agencies and authorities and merging others.

At least 25 agencies are targeted in the new drive revealed in a draft proposal by the Ministry of Public Service to the Cabinet as a response to a letter by President Yoweri Museveni last year.

In the July 17, 2017 letter to Vice President Edward Ssekanda, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda and select Cabinet ministers, President Museveni argued that there should only be two categories of public servants policy makers and money-makers running the few government parastatals.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Service Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwiire told the media that the move to merge and also scrap some agencies and authorities had partly been made inevitable by the need to reduce the national wage bill.

According to the Public Service Ministry, the affected agencies will be those whose mandate has expired, been overtaken by events or whose roles are duplicated.

The medium-term recommendations will be implemented between 2019 and 2022 while the long-term ones will run up to 2028.

The report suggested that the Uganda Investment Authority be merged with the Uganda Tourism Board, Uganda Export Promotion Board, and Enterprise Uganda, and the Uganda Free Zones Authority to create a single entity – the Uganda Development Board under the Ministry of Trade.

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The report also noted the functions of the Uganda National Roads Authority are duplicated in the Department of Roads and Bridges in the Ministry of Works and Transport and recommended that it be mainstreamed under the line ministry together with Uganda Railways Corporation, and the standard gauge railway.

The government says that the mergers will save close to Ush1 trillion ($261 million), reduce salary disparities within the civil service and provide funds to put into other sectors. According to the Public Service Ministry, agencies have been taking about 37 per cent of the entire national wage bill which now stands at Ush4.6 trillion ($1.2 billion) this financial year.

Uganda’s Minister of Information and National Guidance, Frank Tumwebaze, told The EastAfrican that this was part of the government’s 10-year public sector reforms held once a decade to review the efficiency and functionality of government.

“We shall follow a logical process. Most of these agencies are created by an Act of Parliament. We will either amend or repeal the laws. The Public Service Ministry will have a road map between one and three years but that will not take place before the government makes a policy pronouncement,” Mr Tumwebaze said.

Agencies that own assets will return them to the sector government ministries.

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Archaeologists uncover oldest human burial in Africa | Archaeology

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Archaeologists have identified the oldest known human burial in Africa during field work that uncovered the remains of a child laid carefully to rest in a grave nearly 80,000 years ago.

The arrangement of the bones shows the three-year-old – named Mtoto after the Swahili word for child – was placed with legs tucked to chest, and perhaps wrapped in a shroud with their head on a pillow, before being gently covered in soil.

Researchers discovered the delicate and degraded bones while excavating the floor beneath a sheltered overhang at the mouth of the Panga ya Saidi cave in the tropical uplands of Kenya’s coastal plain about 10 miles from the shore.

“This is quite spectacular,” said Michael Petraglia, a professor of human evolution and prehistory at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany. “It is the oldest human burial in Africa. It tells us something about our cognition, our sociality and our behaviours and they are all very familiar to us today.”

The bones were discovered in Kenya in 2013 but were so delicate that it took years to excavate them.

The team unearthed the edge of the grave and the first pieces of bone in 2013, but the fragments were so fragile they turned to dust when the scientists tried to remove them. Over the next four years, the researchers excavated the grave from above, revealing yet more bone, but even after applying resins to the material, it was still too weak to recover.

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The researchers decided to dig around the circular pit, roughly 40cm wide and 13cm deep, and encase the whole grave in plaster so it could safely be lifted from the ground. The block was taken to the National Museum in Nairobi and on to a specialist lab in Spain where the material was excavated further and then imaged with 3D X-ray equipment.

Two small teeth found in the grave matched those of Homo sapiens and put the age of the child at two and a half to three years old. Further teeth were still embedded in the child’s lower jaw, discovered with the spine, ribs and other bones from the shoulder and limbs. Stone tools for scraping, boring and engraving were found in and around the grave, alongside stone points that may have been hafted on to wooden shafts to make spears.

The images show that the child was laid on their right side with knees tucked up towards the chest, while the position of the skull suggests that it lay on a headrest or pillow. The articulated bones, such as the spine, had not fallen apart in the grave, leading the researchers to suspect the body was wrapped tightly in a shroud before burial. Dating found the bones to be about 78,000 years old, according to the study published in Nature.

“Humans, unlike chimps, began to develop complex belief systems around death,” said Prof Nicole Bovin, the principal investigator on the project in Jena.

“These are deeply variable cross-culturally, as are ways of treating the dead, so we can’t draw specific conclusions about what the burial signified for people.

“But what seems clear is that there is not just an emotional connection to the dead, but almost certainly also a framework for understanding and navigating death, and for making it meaningful. Unlike other species, we have cosmological belief systems that give meaning to experience and to events like the death of a loved one.”

Archaeologists have found older human burial sites outside Africa. Human remains recovered from burials in the Skhul cave on the slopes of Mount Carmel in Israel and Qafzeh cave near Nazareth are between 90,000 and 130,000 years old.

“Early African burials are especially rare despite the fact that Africa is the birthplace of our species,” said Bovin. “This almost certainly reflects biases in where research has been done – the regions where earlier burials have been found have been much more extensively researched than Africa.

“It’s incredibly rare that we gain access to such a snapshot of a moment in time, especially one so very ancient,” she added. “The burial takes us back to a very sad moment … one that despite the vast time separating us, we can understand as humans.”

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Turkey opposition leader's kin 'abducted' in Nairobi

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His alleged capture comes days before a ruling by the Kiambu High Court on a matter challenging his extradition to Turkey.

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Hugo Broos: Nations Cup winning Belgian appointed new South Africa coach – KBC

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Belgian Hugo Broos has been named as the new coach of South South Africa men’s national football team on a five-year deal.

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He is due to arrive in South Africa next week to begin his new job.

“South Africa has a rich football history and is among the powerhouse on the continent,” the 69-year-old told the South African Football Association (Safa) website.

“The country has full of quality and I am coming to coach a truly football nation with massive potential.

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“My main focus will be to weave in new players who have hunger and desire to achieve things. Young players are ambitious and want to prove a point.

I need to start from there because I want to build a strong Bafana Bafana side for the future. This is a really exciting project and I am really excited.”

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His first games in charge are set to be June’s opening rounds of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers against neighbours Zimbabwe before returning home to play Ghana.

The 69-year-old replaces Molefi Ntseki who was sacked in March after Bafana Bafana failed to qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon.

Broos led Cameroon to the 2017 Nations Cup title in Gabon as they came from behind to beat Egypt 2-1 in the final.

Just 11 days after winning that title in 2017 the South Africa Football Association (Safa) announced that Broos had applied for the Bafana Bafana job.

The job eventually went to Stuart Baxter and Broos continued in charge of the Indomitable Lions until his contract was not renewed at that end of 2017.

Soon after leaving Cameroon he joined the technical staff at the Belgian club KV Oostende, who he left in 2019.

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