INTERVIEW WITH MOSES BYARUHANGA
As 2014 unfolds, a lot is happening on the political scene in Uganda and her neighbours; from the political crisis in Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to the bitter conflict in South Sudan and Congo, and the pending 2016 general elections. John Semakula and Henry Nsubuga interviewed senior presidential advisor on political affairs Moses Byaruhanga on several of these issues.
Why is Uganda interested in intervening in the South Sudan conflict?
We cannot intervene in South Sudan as Uganda, but we can only do so under the mandate of the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Organisation of African Union. There was a meeting for IGAD in Nairobi, Kenya, recently and another is starting in Ethiopia. Uganda is not acting alone.
But Ugandans should know that it is in Uganda’s interest to see peace in South Sudan. You cannot imagine the number of Ugandan businessmen who have lost stock in Sudan because of the conflict. This loss directly affects the Government. So, you cannot ignore the conflict and say those are individual losses.
People say President Yoweri Museveni has personal interests in South Sudan
President Museveni has not been selling any goods in South Sudan. The market in South Sudan has been benefitting individual traders, not him. If Uganda intervenes under any mandate, the President will be helping the traders.
You can imagine the situation in a sugar factory which has been exporting sugar to South Sudan, but now cannot because of the conflict. That sugar will flood the local market and prices will go down, affecting local businesses.
People say President Museveni had taken sides in the conflict when he threatened to deal with rebel leader Riek Machar
Uganda has not sided with anybody in the conflict and the UPDF has not participated in any fighting in South Sudan. Our soldiers are in South Sudan to help evacuate Ugandans who are stranded.
Isn’t UPDF overstretched by being in Somalia and South Sudan?
That is a question you should ask the commanders in the force.
There are reports that Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi wants to challenge President Yoweri Museveni in 2016
I have also heard the rumours, but I read the story when he mentioned the procedure one goes through to become the party’s flag-bearer. He did not say he would contest for the Presidency in 2016.
President Museveni has been accused of failing to fulfill election pledges?
All the pledges made by President Museveni are still within government means. And the President knows when to fulfill what. Ugandans also need to know that election pledges are made during the campaigns. President Museveni has only served for two-and-a-half years this term, so he is still fulfilling the pledges.
Who do you deem fit to take over power after President Museveni has retired?
When the right time comes, NRM will look within its ranks for the most suitable candidate, depending on who will have offered themselves at that time.
After having served for 30 years by 2016, won’t President Museveni be thinking of retiring?
The issue of whether he retires or not, is not his decision. It is the NRM that has been urging him to stand again and again. The party can still request him to stand.
But former Vice-President Prof. Gilbert Bukenya also wants the seat, come 2016
Bukenya cannot win an election. Where will he get the support? He is wasting his energy and time. He should divert his effort to attracting customers to his hotel, Katomi Kingdom Resort on Entebbe Road. What new thing is Bukenya bringing, which he did not when he was vice-president for eight years?
The opposition is also planning to defeat President Museveni in 2016
The person who will win the 2016 general elections will be endorsed by the NRM. The NRM restored peace in this country and people are progressing. Storeyed buildings are mushrooming everywhere because of NRM. The population has also increased because children are no longer dying from immunisable diseases.
The NRM Government has also made social change in Uganda by introducing free education and fixing infrastructures like roads. The majority of roads in Uganda are under construction, while others are already complete.
Renegade Gen. David Sejjusa plans to overthrow President Museveni
Sejjusa is in London. Uganda does not share borders with the UK. Sejjusa has his own problems and he is not in any way a security threat to Uganda. Where will he find us?
Some opposition leaders have threatened to boycott the 2016 general elections, unless there are changes in the composition of the Electoral Commission
The opposition is not sincere with its demands on the composition of the commission. There is nobody in the opposition who has produced evidence that one of the commissioners lacks integrity. And the commission is not the seven commissioners, but a machinery.
By changing the seven commissioners as they want, you will not have done much. The commission’s work begins in the districts and the commissioners only receive results at the centre. The commissioners, like judges, are appointed by the President.
Why is the opposition not challenging the composition of judges? Even if you change the composition of the commission, the opposition will still lose because it is not popular in Uganda.
The opposition says Kiggundu’s Electoral Commission rigs elections for NRM?
If the EC is biased towards the NRM, how come Erias Lukwago, an opposition candidate, was elected mayor of Kampala and Betty Nambooze, another opposition stalwart, was voted MP for Mukono Municipality? Doesn’t Kiggundu go to Kampala and Mukono during elections? If Kiggundu rigs for NRM, all opposition party mayors would now be NRM.
How can the conflict between the city Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago, and executive director Jennifer Musisi be resolved?
The conflict was long solved when politicians did their work and impeached Lukwago. He should now wait for court to pronounce themselves on his petition.
So, what should be done to ensure the Lukwago-Musisi conflict does not resurface in the future leadership?
There is need to revisit the KCCA Act. You do not need to have a mayor who is also the speaker. If the office of the speaker and that of the mayor are separated, you will not have a lot of antagonism. If that was the case in the current KCCA Act, Lukwago would not be suffering because of refusing to sign the minutes.
He would be struggling with personality problems. That would also have meant that the NRM, which has the majority councillors in KCCA, would have taken the speaker’s slot.
Has Speaker Rebecca Kadaga performed to your satisfaction as speaker?
That question would be suitable for one of the Members of Parliament.
But she has been accused of siding with the opposition in Parliament
The majority of the MPs are NRM and for anything to go through, it must be endorsed by the party.
The NRM has fought and won many wars. Why is the Government failing to deal with unemployment?
Our major challenge is reducing poverty such that investors can be able to sell their produce. That is why President Museveni is preaching the gospel against household poverty. To increase consumption, the population must have money. If people can buy what is produced, new industries will come up and production will also increase, creating more opportunities.
But to achieve this, we need stability in the country and infrastructure like power and roads. Today, we are threatened that excess power from Bujagali Dam may run out before new sources are put to use.
There are fears that the Government is abandoning Universal Primary and Secondary Education programmes because there are no funds to run them after donors cut aid
That is not true. We have enough money as Government, so we cannot withdraw from UPE and USE programmes.