Government communication on His Holiness Pope Francis visit to Uganda

Press statement

1.    Fellow Ugandans, on behalf of the entire Government I greet you all and wish to officially inform the Nation that this month, November Uganda will host His Holiness Pope Francis.


2.    In December 2014, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, wrote to the State of Vatican, and officially invited His Holiness Pope Francis to visit Uganda.  In response to the President’s invitation, the Holy See, on 10th September, 2015 officially communicated the acceptance by Pope Francis to make an Apostolic Voyage to Uganda from 27th – 29th November, 2015

3.    Upon this confirmation, the Government of the Republic of Uganda, working closely with the Apostolic Nunciature in Uganda and the Uganda Episcopal Conference, embarked on preparations to facilitate a successful Papal visit.  A number of committees were formed to handle different tasks related to the preparations.

Ugandans need to be aware that the Papal visit is a unique one - it is both a State and a Pastoral visit.

4.    Organization and Coordination of the Preparations
Since the confirmation of the Papal visit in September 2015, the Government put in place the following Committees to ensure proper organization and smooth arrangements:

a)    The Apex Committee of Cabinet:
The Apex Committee is chaired by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister, and has got membership from the Office of the President, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development, Ministry of Works & Transport, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, His Excellency the Nuncio and members of the Central Organizing Committee of the Uganda Episcopal Conference chaired by His Grace Archbishop John Baptist Odama, are members of the Apex Committee.  The Apex Committee is charged with overall supervision of all preparatory activities.

b)    The Infrastructure Committee
This Committee draws its membership from the Ministries of Works and Transport, Tourism, Wildlife & Antiquities, and Internal Affairs. It reports to the Apex Committee and is responsible for undertaking works and renovations on all the infrastructure installations at sites where the Pontiff will visit but especially Munyonyo, Namugongo Catholic and Anglican sites (Nakiyanja).

Munyonyo is where the journey to martyrdom started and two martyrs, Andrew Kaggwa and Ponsiano Nngondwe are buried there. Namugongo Catholic Shrine is the site where Charles Lwanga was killed and buried whereas Namugongo Anglican Shrine (Nakiyanja) is the last and main site of martyrdom where 45 Christians – Catholics and Anglicans were burnt to death.

This Committee has mainly worked to ensure electrical installations, water supply and improvement on the roads to and in these sites.

c)    The National Organising Committee (NOC)
The National Organising Committee is also answerable to the Apex Committee.  It is chaired by Office of the President and has got membership from line Ministries of Government, the Apostolic Nuncio and the Chairpersons of subcommittees of the organizing committee of the Uganda Episcopal Conference.

The National Organising Committee handles all operations relating to the visit. These are to security and accreditation, Health services (First Aid), Publicity and Broadcasting requirements; entertainment, Venue preparation, Protocol, State visitors, ushering and seating, transport, ceremonies, and decorations.

5.    Progress of Preparations

i)    The Government together with the Church (Uganda Episcopal Conference) undertook infrastructure improvements at Namugongo. The infrastructure at Nakiyanja and Munyonyo especially the roads, street lighting, and installation of piped water is being improved.

ii)    Government through the National Organising Committee has formed subcommittees to handle the following functions during the visit:-

-    Protocol at all venues
-    Ushering & Seating
-    Erection of Sheds (tents) at Entebbe, Munyonyo, Namugongo Nakiyanja and Kololo.
-    Provision of Health (First Aid) services at all the venues where the Pope will visit and along the routes.
-    Decorations at Kololo, Nakiyanja, and the route from Entebbe through Kampala up to Namugongo.
-    Publicity and Printing of the Commemorative magazine for the visit, live broadcast and streaming of events, establishment and facilitation of the media/press centre and related services.
-    Security and accreditation of delegations and entourage, official guests and members of the media.
-    Transporting of all the State Visitors and their entourage.
-    Public Address facilitation at Munyonyo, Nakiyanja, Namugongo & Kololo including LED Screens.

iii)    All the activities of the National Organising Committee are executed in consonance with Government standards; the guidance of the Holy See and the Uganda Episcopal Conference.

iv)    To this end, Government has since August 2015, received and interfaced with three delegations from the Holy See to discuss various aspects pertaining to preparations for the Papal visit.

v)    Ministry of Tourism is organizing various publicity programmes during the visit to be able to tap in on millions of people both from Uganda and abroad and market Uganda’s tourism potentials.

6.    The Programme
The programme for the Papal visit in Uganda was communicated from Rome early in the month of October, 2015.  His Holiness Pope Francis will arrive in Uganda in the afternoon of Friday, 27th November 2015. He will be received at Entebbe International Airport by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Uganda together with the Bishops of Uganda.  Ugandans (close to 1,000) drawn from the parishes of Uganda will also join the receiving party at Entebbe.  After conclusion of the arrival ceremonies, His Holiness the Pope will proceed with his programme as follows:-

-    Friday 27th November, 2015
                                 4:55 p.m.     Arrival at Entebbe International   Airport and arrival ceremonies
5.30 p.m.    Meeting with H.E. the President    at State House

                        6:30 p.m.    Pontiff departs for Munyonyo
7:15 p.m.    Arrival at Munyonyo
Meeting of Catechists and
Teachers at Munyonyo
7:45 p.m.     Pontiff will retire to the Nunciature

-    Saturday, 28th November, 2015        
                        9:00 a.m.    Arrives at Nakiyanja  Anglican
Martyrs Shrine for a short         meditation prayer for those martyrs
that were killed at this very   shrine.  
9:30 a.m.     Arrives at Namugongo Catholic
Martyrs Shrine and conducts Holy Mass
11:30 a.m.    Returns to the Nunciature
3:00 p.m.    Proceeds to Kololo Airstrip for a
Meeting with the Youth
4:00 p.m.    Arrives at Nalukolongo Mapeera Bakateeyamba’s Home to meet the sick and handicapped

4:30 p.m.     Meets the Bishops at the
Archbishop’s residence at Lubaga
and thereafter meets the Clergy at Lubaga Cathedral.

6:00pm    Pope retires to Nunciature.

-    Sunday, 29th November, 2015    
09.15 am    Departure for Bangui, Central
African Republican (CAR)

7.    Conclusion
7.1 The Government of Uganda and all the people of Uganda wish to acknowledge the great honor and privilege bestowed up on us to host His Holiness Pope Francis, the third Pontiff in Uganda after Pope Paul VI in 1969 and Pope John Paul II in 1993.

7.2 The Government wishes to assure Ugandans of a successful Papal visit to our Country and of its readiness to cooperate with the Apostolic Nunciature in Uganda and the Uganda Episcopal Conference for smooth preparations.

7.3    The Government calls upon all Ugandans to support the preparations in all ways possible and also to warmly welcome with enthusiasm His Holiness the Pope and his entourage and the traditional hospitality. All Ugandan guests are welcome at Munyonyo and Namugongo. The youth are expected to gather at Kololo for a special interface with Holiness on the 28th November 2015 at exactly 3: pm. All youth willing and able are encouraged to gather at Kololo.

7.4    Vending: There will be no vending at all in all venues where the Holy Father will be meeting different groups of people. At Namugongo Martyrs shrine, the public is hereby notified that there is a special place that has been designated for all the vendors. This is where we expect all the vendors of whatever kind to be. The rest of the places including the route to Namugongo, the entrance and the enclosed area of Namugongo Basilica should be reserved for people who will have come from far and near to attend the Papal Mass.

Finally, as government we shall be holding more press conferences to update the general public regarding the traffic guidelines, security arrangements and any other relevant information that the public might require to know.   In this vein, let me inform Ugandans that the grounds at Namugongo Catholic Shrine will be open to pilgrims starting on 27th November, 2015.

For God and My Country

Prof Tarsis Kabwegyere
Minister for General Duties
Office of the Prime Minister