Minority Leader Rubbishes State of the Nation Address

The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Nandala Mafabi, has described President Yoweri Museveni State of the Nation Address as a formality and lacking in substance. Ahead of the Budget Speech next week, the president delivered his State of the Nation address to Parliament, but Mafabi says he did not address critical issues in the country.
The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Nandala Mafabi, has described President Yoweri Museveni State of the Nation Address as a formality and lacking in substance.The president delivered the State of the Nation Address on Thursday, emphasising that his government did not fail to deliver on its promises in the 201/2013 financial year.Museveni instead said some things were not fulfilled because of resource limitations.Ahead of the Budget Speech next week, the president delivered his State of the Nation address to Parliament, but Mafabi says he did not address critical issues in the country.

Mafabi says the President’s address this time around was more of fulfilling the constitutional obligation to address Parliament and that it was lacking on substance.

Under Article 101 (1) of the Constitution, the President is mandated to give an address on the state of the country at the beginning of each Session of Parliament. The address gives the opportunity for the President to account to Parliament about the state of nation in ending year.

Mafabi in an interview with Uganda Radio Network says he expected the President to give an accountability of the 15 trillion shillings that was approved as the budget for the 2012/2013 financial year. The Budadiri West MP also expected Museveni to talk about the state of security in the country and the fight against corruption.

Mafabi says the President has for the second year running not updated Parliament about security in Uganda as well as the geo-politics in the region, especially Democratic Republic Of Congo whose refugees continue to flock into Uganda.

Mafabi says allegations raised by General David Sejusa about a plan by the president to eliminate dissenting voices as he fast-tracks his son to the presidency have also been part of the debate but the President seemingly chose not to focus on the matter.

General David Sejusa, who has been coordinating Intelligence Services as well as representing the UPDF in Parliament, is rumored to be seeking political asylum in the UK after the controversial letter that led to the closure of Monitor and Pepper Publications respectively.

During the address, Museveni said the Economy had greatly improved with a much lower inflation rate compared to the 2010/2011 inflation crisis. He says the bank reserves have also grown.

Mafabi agrees that the inflation has gone down but says this and the Gross Domestic Product growth rate have not meaningfully impacted on Ugandans. He says in some places poverty has instead increased.

Museveni said the country still faces infrastructure problems, especially the railways, roads, water works, electricity and information and communication technology. On electricity the President said Karuma will be built using government money. He said there is also a possibility that cheap funding could be obtained from elsewhere so that money earmarked for it is put to road construction.

The President did not, however, reveal when the project would start. Karuma dam has been dogged by procurement controversies with some yet to be resolved in courts of law.

Museveni said the UPDF engineering brigade could work on the roads and railway, even though he did not mention the progress on 18 roads he had promised to work on in his speech last year. The roads included Mbale-Lwakhakha, Kapchorwa- Suam, Kabale –Kanungu, Buhooma-Olwiyo, and Gulu-Kitgum among others.

Museveni also highlighted on the Oil and Gas sector which many Ugandans are looking up to. The timeline for actual lifting of the oil and gas from the ground has been changing.

He said the government and the investors are now moving to an agreement on the refinery and the controversy over the pipeline.

Tullow General Manager, Jimmy Mugerwa has in the past raised concern over the negotiation process on when to beginning refining or lifting the oil from the ground for processing or export.

The President also announced the commencement of the student loan scheme that he says will be in addition to four thousand students funded by government at public universities.

As usual, Museveni castigated the media and some opposition groups that have tried to give a balance sheet on his achievements in the ending year.

Parliament will debate the speech when the next session begins.

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