Long Awaited “Tova Ku main” Slogan Ownership Case Judgement Fixed for October 19th

The long awaited judgement in the case in which social media critic Frank Gashumba, Lwengo District LC V Chairperson, and the NRM Youth League Vice President Ibrahim Kitatta and Hadija Namyalo Uzeiye, the head of the Office of the NRM Chairperson are fighting over the copyright of Omalako Jajja Tova Kumain has been fixed for October 19th 2023.

The decision is expected to be delivered by the Uganda Registration and Services Bureau-URSB.

The said Tova Kumain slogan under contention gained popularity in late 2022 and is often used at NRM functions and events where President Yoweri Museveni has been endorsed to extend his rule beyond 2026. The complete version of the slogan is “Omalako Jajja Tova Ku main; Tova Ku Ballot” (“You’re fit, Grandpa; don’t leave the main track, Stay on the Ballot”): We command you to stand again in 2026 and Beyond Bazzukulu ba Museveni.”

However, the slogan since this year started sparked a dispute among NRM supporters and their allied parties, with different individuals claiming its creation.

The process began in May 2023 when Frank Gashumba, a social and political commentator, applied for registration at the Uganda Registration Services. In his application, Gashumba stated that he created the slogan on May 16th, 2023, upon the request of Hadijah Uzeiye Namyalo, the Head of the Office of the NRM National Chairman (ONC).

Subsequently, URSB published a notice of registration on May 23rd, 2023, inviting objections from the public within a 60-day period. Hadijah Namyalo promptly objected to Gashumba’s application, asserting her ownership claim in a letter to the Registrar of Copyright dated June 5th, 2023. She claimed to have officially started using the slogan on October 19th, 2022, during the launch of a bid urging President Museveni to run for the presidency in 2026.

On June 26th, 2023, Ibrahim Kitatta, through his lawyers, also filed documents objecting to both Namyalo and Gashumba’s claims. Kitatta stated that he originated the slogan, launching it on October 17th, 2022, at Zebra Hotel in Masaka City, two days prior to Namyalo’s use. Kitatta further mentioned that he applied for copyright protection on January 27th, 2023 and that the URSB issued a notice of application on February 13th, 2023. The notice was gazetted on February 24th, 2023, under General Notice number 476 of 2023.

“…whereupon no objection was raised against my application by the applicant and Hajjat Hadija Uzeiye Namyalo within the required sixty days, whereas they were fully aware of the Gazette Notice since they are responsible citizens of Uganda. After you being fully satisfied that I have provided all the necessary information and followed the due process of law, you rightly registered me as the author or owner or holder of the copyright in respect of Omalako Jajja Tova Ku Main and Consequently on 4th May 2023 issued me with a certificate of registration No.6 of 2023 as proof of my registration ” says Kitatta in his letter of objection.

He attached a copy of the Uganda Gazette and a Certificate from URSB among other documents as evidence supporting his claim.

Kitatta asked URSB to find him as the legitimate holder of the copyright.

As a result, on Tuesday evening the said parties through their respective lawyers appeared before the Kololo based URSB for hearing of the case before the Registrar in a closed door session that lasted for almost two hours and were given the date for judgement for them to be know the real owner based on the evidence and submissions that has been presented.

Our Reporter has learnt that from sources privy to the session that the key issue here that has been raised by both parties now under contention is Who is the rightful author of the Slogan? and then What remedies are available for the person who will have been declared as the duly registered ownership?

At the moment the lawyers from both parties have been directed to make written submissions and given timelines on the said legal issues regarding why court should determine the case in their favour and been directed by the URSB Registrar Ronald Lutunde to wait for the decision on October 19th 2023 via their respective emails.

It should be noted that once a decision is made by the URSB, any party that is aggrieved can challenge it in the High Court by way of an appeal.

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