IN A few months’ time, President Museveni will commence monthly online interviews with citizens. This was officially revealed by State House Director for Communication, Sarah Kagingo, over the weekend at Grand Imperial Hotel where she was attending the Annual Makerere Students’ Guild dinner which the new guild president, Anna Adeke Ebaju, organised for her Cabinet and other stakeholders including former guild presidents.
The well-attended event was also graced by Gerald Karuhanga, Prof. Mondo Kagonyera and other former guild presidents like Susan Abbo who, like Kagingo, currently works with State House Entebbe. Kagingo revealed that Museveni had ordered her and other aides to expeditiously organise for him to inaugurate his monthly online interviews which will enable him directly interact with citizens on topical issues in the country.
Kagingo, who manages Museveni’s twitter and Facebook accounts, revealed that Museveni had realised this was the best way to reach out to the young people and resonate with them. “My boss, the President, has realised the young people are hostile to Government for a number of reasons but lack of access to accurate information is one of them and we are addressing it by introducing this regular online interview edition which will be open to all citizens,” she explained to the excited audience.
She added that many of the young people within and outside the Universities are progressive thinkers, even when they oppose Government, but they become extremists due to lack of correct information. “We know you have many concerns to vent out but nobody is available to give audience. That is the mischief we are curing by making the president regularly available to you through using the platform social networking sites have availed us with,” said Kagingo who was among the earliest female Presidents Makerere University has ever had.
“I know you are very good at criticising Government, which is your right; none of us is here to take it away from you but we are providing a platform for you so that your criticisms can reach the President in a structured way and you are able to get instant responses. It will be dialogue and not lecture format where you have to listen to the President without answering back,” Kagingo said as Karuhanga, who was the chief guest, interjected saying State House was trying to manipulate the young people rather than practically solving their problems which he enumerated as corruption and lack of transparency in Government programmes such as the State House scholarship scheme. Kagingo later explained that the president will, on a designated day, sit with his staff at State House with big projectors from where he will be available to directly interact with citizens via twitter, skype and Facebook.
We separately learnt that Museveni, who is these days desperate to demonstrate his intolerance to corruption, also expects to use these live online debates to have citizens openly pin ministers and other Government officials accused of corrupt practices. We are told he will always carry along with him, officials from different Government departments including Cabinet, the military, Police and parastatals so that citizens can pin them openly and compel them to defend themselves right there.
In doing this online debate, Museveni is also trying to catch up with fellow presidents like Kagame of Rwanda, Barrack Obama of the USA and Uhuru Kenyatta who have for long been using these social networking sites to directly have dialogue and interact with their citizens.