Kitatta, Namyalo, Gashumba fail to prove ownership of ‘Tova Ku Main’ slogan

20 Oct 2023

The three parties claiming ownership of the “Jajja Tova Ku Main” campaign slogan have failed to prove their claim before the Uganda Registration Services Bureau -URSB.

The Head of the NRM Office of National Chairman-ONC Hadija Namyalo, Lwengo District Chairman Ibrahim Kitatta and social commentator Frank Gashumba had all claimed to be the originators of the slogan which gained popularity in late 2022 as NRM fanatics encouraged President Yoweri Museveni to hold onto the Presidency.

Gashumba applied to the Uganda Registration Services Bureau -URSB to get the copyright of the slogan in May 2023 noting that he was the creator of the artistic impression of President Yoweri Museveni’s photo and slogan. His application was however opposed by Namyalo and Kitatta in separate objection applications filed before URSB, each claiming ownership of the slogan.

The matter was heard before URSB and according to Assistant Registrar of Copyright Denis Birungi, none of the three could prove their ownership of the slogan. He ruled that Kitatta’s claim of ownership wasn’t convincing since he objected to the slogan yet what Gashumba sought to copyright was an artistic impression with a photo of President Yoweri Museveni taken during the 2019 anti-corruption walk.

Also, while Kitatta said he had registered a copyright of the words used in January 2023, the slogan had been in use earlier in 2022.

“It should be noted that as stated in the quoted paragraph of the article, the words ‘Omalako Jajja Tova Ku Main,’ were already public knowledge before the second objector registered his copyright in January 2023. The 2nd objection therefore fails and is hereby dismissed,” the ruling reads in part.

Meanwhile, Namyalo who objected to the application on grounds that she had contracted Gashumba to make the creations on her behalf also lost the claim after failing to present evidence of any contractual agreement. Although she had receipts of payment to Gashumba whom she said was contracted to make T-shirts with the artistic word which included Museveni’s photo expression and the slogan, she had no contract to prove that she Commissioned Gashumba to do the work on her behalf.

“The receipts adduced indicate that the Gashumba was paid to print T-shirts. Printing T-shirts is not the same as developing artistic works for incorporation on those T-shirts. In the absence of written contracts or other sufficient evidence, I am unable to find that Namyalo commissioned the applicant to author the disputed work whether by employment contract or otherwise, the Deputy Registrar ruled.

The bureau also found no evidence that Gashumba is the creator of the works. First, the used photo was not taken by Gashumba, and can only be defined as derivative work under the copyright law. According to the law, if one were to transform another’s work, permission ought to be sought from the person who took the original photo.

“The applicant has not adduced any evidence to prove that the copyright holder of that image authorised him before he made the adaptations, transformations or modifications. Consequently, he cannot claim ownership in the silhouette as doing so would constitute an infringement,” Birungi added.

Addressing the media after the ruling, Namyalo said the office of the National Chairman shall continue to use the slogan and the artistic impression of the President in its campaigns after all neither Gashumba nor Kitatta owned it. She said the slogan belongs to the members of the ONC and all she wanted was to protect that.

The slogan has been used at NRM functions and events where President Yoweri Museveni has been endorsed to continue his rule after 2026. The slogan is used as a representation of the stand of the pro-Museveni Youth whom he has consistently referred to as Bazzukulu (grandchildren), for him to extend his rule.

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