FARUK KIRUNDA: Why NRM Critic Jackson Mutumba Got It Wrong


Faruk Kirunda, Presidential Assistant on Media Management

A one Jackson Mutamba has listed a number of accusations which he uses to warn Ugandans against voting President Yoweri Museveni again. Although Mr. Mutamba only outlines his accusations without backing them up with facts, I will respond to them with some quick facts.

CORRUPTION

What does Mutamba mean by stinking corruption? All forms of corruption are bad, to be condemned, fought and defeated. Museveni is at the forefront of fighting corruption. Additional to the traditional courts and the IGG’s department, he established a special unit, State House Anti-Corruption Unit under Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema. This unit is sending shockwaves down the spines of the corrupt, with many apprehended, prosecuted, jailed and their property appropriated to compensate Government for the loss. Museveni stands for zero tolerance to corruption and it is known that it is the corrupt and their allies fighting him.

UNEMPLOYMENT

In fact, Ugandans are going to vote Museveni because he is the solution to unemployment. His gospel and emphatic practical steps towards modernization of Agriculture and industrialization have saved a difficult situation, which is not unique to Uganda, from getting worse. Many Ugandans are moving on from searching for jobs to creating their own ventures because they are empowered through various capital venture funds such as Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP), Emyooga, UWEP and now funds at Uganda Development Bank (UDB). It is not enough to say that there is unemployment. What is the gravity of the problem and what has been done and what remains to be done? By voting Museveni, these are the questions Ugandans answer.

EDUCATION SYSTEM

Distorted education system, how? Museveni who introduced Universal Primary Education (UPE), Universal Secondary Education (USE) and expanded University and Tertiary education by over 200%? Anybody faulting Uganda’s education system is either living in cuckoo land because facts are on the ground for all to see.

HEALTH SYSTEM

A distorted health system which kicked the six killer diseases out of Uganda and currently leads Africa in fighting Covid-19? Has there ever been a time when Ugandans have access to health care as it is with President Museveni in charge? Which Mulago has been sold off? Has Mr. Mutamba been to Mulago of recent or he just imagines that because it has been upgraded and rehabilitated to first world status it is no longer owned locally? Mulago is owned by Ugandans and will continue helping us to totally weed out medical tourism.

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Freedom of expression is not for politicians only. All Ugandans enjoy the right to express themselves on any matter but within the enshrined Constitutional order. How can there be no freedom of expression when people abuse each other, including insulting the head-of-state, and live goes on? In reacting to Mutanda, another president would hunt for him and eliminate him. The problem is that there are those who act as if Uganda is lawless and that rights of others must be trampled upon in order to determine that there is freedom of expression.

TORTURING POLITICAL OPPONENTS

All forms of torture are outlawed in Uganda. The fact that Mutamba classifies his complaint as “torturing political opponents” indicates that his concern is politically engineered to score points. Politicians are abusing the too much freedom in Uganda to break the law claiming to be freedom fighters. Yes, there is freedom but there is law to regulate it. When lawbreakers are brought before the law and they are prosecuted, that is within the law but no Ugandan is tortured as a state policy.

EMPTY PROMISES

Ugandans have consistently preferred and voted Museveni against a line of contenders because he is the one whose word and record are tested. If he did not deliver as per the party manifesto, he would be rejected like the other candidates who usually come to reap where they have not sowed. Museveni’s achievements speak for themselves if only people could be honest. Which particular unfulfilled promises is Mutamba talking about?

MILLITARY Vs POLITICS

Ugandan’s military (UPDF) under the overall command of Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is the most disciplined and people-centered army that Uganda has ever heard. It is a people’s army, composed of their relatives and friends. Without the army’s professionalism and pro-people stance, instability would be rife. Progress would not be possible. With UPDF, Ugandans are secure. Only criminal elements feel intimidated. And, kindly, keep the army out of cheap politicking.

NATIONAL ASSETS QUESTION

Which national assets have been sold? Under which programme? Mutamba, like other naïve people who have raised similar accusations may be referring to privatization which was part of the programme of divesting of Government interests to the private sector for efficiency in management and production in order to spur rapid economic development. No Ugandan asset has been sold off and none will be sold off as long as Museveni is in charge.

DOUBLE TAXATION

Which double taxation is in reference here? Which particular aspect of business is double taxed? That is the problem with addressing issues in haste. Let us be deep in our analysis of issues if Ugandans are to take us seriously. If there is double taxation, what are the Members of Parliament (MPs) doing about it? There are many opposition MPs in that Parliament; what are they doing about it?

BIG DEBT

Uganda’s debt burden is sustainable. No entity can lend to a Government incapable of meeting its debt obligations. All the monies borrowed are approved by Parliament where the opposition is well represented. And the money goes into development projects. No money is borrowed for consumption. But also, because of the improving economic situation, Uganda needs less and less donor support because we can fund our budget locally by a bigger percentage. The aim is to totally stop relying on donors. That will only be possible with Museveni consolidating his programmes.

POVERTY

There is no time in history when Ugandans are prosperous than today. Every serious Ugandan fits in the money economy either as a worker or a business operator. How can Ugandans languish in abject poverty when the economy is expanding and what is the ratio of those in abject poverty to the ratio of those who are prospering? Let us get mathematical! According to the World Bank Poverty Assessment report 2016, Uganda has reduced monetary poverty at a very rapid rate. The proportion of the Ugandan population living below the national poverty line declined from 31.1% in 2006 to 19.7% in 2013. Similarly, the country was one of the fastest in Sub-Saharan Africa to reduce the share of its population living on $1.90 PPP per day or less, from 53.2% in 2006 to 34.6% in 2013. All that is under the leadership of President Yoweri Museveni.

LAND EVICTIONS

This is an absurd joke. Who in Uganda has stood with the landless and victims of illegal eviction than President Yoweri Museveni? Why is it that everybody under threat of eviction runs to the president for assistance? Can the same person be behind deprivation of land to the poor or look on as Ugandans are hounded out of rightfully owned property? Is there any country in the world where public works projects are halted because private owners of land refuse to give way and nobody pushes them off? Museveni is on record as protecting bibanja holders against the interests of landlords, something for which moneyed moguls have tried to fight him, so what is Mutamba talking about?

JUSTICE

Justice is neither for the poor nor for the rich. It is for those favored by the law. All Ugandans are equal before the law. Any Ugandan can pursue justice and receive justice.

ELECTRICITY PRICES

At no time in the history of Uganda has there been greater access to electricity than today. Rural electrification is a standard policy of the NRM Government. There is increasing demand for electricity which is why more dams like Isimba, Bujagali and Karuma have been brought on board. Ugandans have also been taught to harness solar and other natural energy sources to power their houses and factories. Electricity connections are available in every part of Uganda, moreover at affordable rates payable as one consumes (yaka). Nobody is burdened with a bill they cannot afford.

GOVERNMENT JOBS Vs UNEMPLOYMENT

There are more jobs in the private sector than in Government. Government has only about 350, 000 vacancies or placing at any one time compared to millions or endless opportunities in the private sector. Not everybody must work in Government because the tax payer can only afford to pay a particular number of workers at ago. It is not a must that every position must be filled. That is how it is possible to run a lean Government in order to bring down administrative costs.

PARLIANMENT MANIPULATION

How does Museveni manipulate Parliament? That is an insult to the great Ugandans who vote their MPs and those who run the institution of Parliament, one of the three arms of the state. The Legislature is an independent and autonomous body which manages its functions without interference from anybody. If NRM has a majority in Parliament, it is because Ugandans voted its MPs as majority and that is democracy at play. No law or resolution is passed under duress but on the basis of the conscience of the MPs acting in the interests of those who voted them. No political opponent is taken as an enemy of the state except those engaged in subversive activities for which they are brought to book under the law. Isn’t opposition constitutionally provided for in Uganda? Has anyone been forced to side with NRM or everybody is free to belong where he or she prefers under the multiparty dispensation? Which Uganda does Mutamba live in?

OVER STAYING IN POWER

Museveni is in power by the wishes, design, acceptable and support of Ugandans. Every five years, they go to the polls and decide who leads them. Since 1996, President Museveni has emerged victorious. Nobody has a right to deny Ugandans the right to determine who leads them or attack their preferred choice leader. The question should be, what has Museveni done for the time he has been in power and what do Ugandans want from him? These questions are already answered above. If Museveni had achieved nothing in the time he has been in power, Ugandans would have kicked him out long ago like other leaders who couldn’t last even for a year in charge. Ugandans will decide when they feel that it is time to have someone else. That power is in their hands.

Without Museveni, Uganda would be a total mess; without Museveni, Uganda will be a mess!

About author: Faruk Kirunda is a Presidential Assistant in Charge of Media Management. Contact: [email protected] 0776980486/0702980486.

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