PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has lashed out at religious and traditional leaders who engage in politicking over land.
â€œI hear some religious and traditional leaders commenting on everything. The issue of land comes, the priest is the one to talk first. Why donâ€™t you wait for your time? Should I also start baptizing?â€ Museveni asked.
He advised the clergy to first understand the issues before commenting on them.
The President was speaking at the celebrations marking the 27th anniversary of the founding of the UPDF, known as Tarehe Sita, at Boma grounds in Masindi yesterday.
â€œTraditional leaders should know where they begin and end. Buli omu amanye olulimbilwe (Let everyone know their role),â€ he cautioned.
He proposed to organise a seminar for them at Paraa Lodge after Easter â€œso that we talk about the way other modern countries are coordinated for developmentâ€.
Several religious leaders, particularly bishops, have criticised the Land Amendment Bill that was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.
The bill, that wants to stop illegal evictions of tenants, is opposed by the Buganda Kingdom, which has embarked on an aggressive campaign against it.
But Museveni yesterday stressed that he would not be intimidated by people agitating against the proposed law, pointing out that he had weathered many storms, including the ones he encountered during the five-year armed struggle.
Addressing residents of Igayaza in Kibaale, where he commissioned a bridge constructed by the UPDF and two houses, Museveni thanked the district for supporting the land amendments.
Area MP Mable Bakeine had earlier told the President that they support the bill as a way of resolving the issue of absentee landlords who got large chuncks of land in the area but had not been occupying and using them.
This, according to her, had caused problems, with rich men buying off the land and engaging in forceful eviction, leading to bloodshed.
â€œMable has spoken very well. She is not going with the lies of Mengo. She does not think about herself only but also other people,â€ Museveni commented.
He blasted the Buganda Kingdom government for alleging that the bill was a Government plot to grab their land.
â€œEttaka ligenda, ettaka ligenda, blah, blah! Nobody can make me panic with lies. Where is the land going? Those with issues should take them to Parliament before the committee, it will sort them out,â€ he said.
He explained that absentee landlords were a creation of the British colonial government, which would be addressed by the new law.
During the same function, the Omukama (king) Solomon Iguru Gafabusa observed that the opposition had hijacked some kingdoms.
He suggested that the president talks to the traditional leaders about this.
The Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, said one of the greatest assets of the NRA struggle, and the key of its success, was the peopleâ€™s support.
â€œUPDF prides itself in its strategic relationship that it built with the people,â€ he said.
â€œThe struggle was a result of the chaos that was afflicted our country after independence. There were a lot of killings, rape and economic stagnation. Life had lost hope.â€
Defence minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga noted that the ministry had put in place a strong audit mechanism, which had made scandals like ghost soldiers a thing of the past. He explained that classified expenditure was now scrutinised by special auditors, and that procurement was done in line with the provisions of the PPDA.
Present at the colourful ceremony were ministers Eriya Kategaya, Muganwa Kajura, Kirunda Kivejinja, Matiya Kasaija, Kasiriivu Atwooki, Ruth Nankabirwa, Kiddu Makubuya, Emmanuel Otaala, Gabriel Opio, David Wakikona, Nsaba Buturo, Salim Saleh, Moses Ali, Mps, district and local leaders.
Museveni blasts Bishops on land