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Only death can stop me - Bukenya

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th May 2013 01:39 PM

Former vice-president Prof. Gilbert Bukenya announced his intention to vie for the presidency in 2016. Moses Mulondo caught up with him for details. Excerpts:

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Former vice-president Prof. Gilbert Bukenya announced his intention to vie for the presidency in 2016. Moses Mulondo caught up with him for details. Excerpts:

Former vice-president Prof. Gilbert Bukenya announced his intention to vie for the presidency in 2016. Moses Mulondo caught up with him for details. Excerpts:

Some people are jeering your decision to run for the presidency

When Yoweri Museveni announced that he was going to wage war against the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) government in 1981, he was also jeered. The then president, Milton Obote, said he would pick his dead body from Luwero. Well, I have made up my mind and I do not care what they say.

Let them wait and see. I have also heard people say I am only agitating so that the President can give me money. I am not so poor. I can feed myself, I do not need any alms.

Will you stand against President Museveni, your mentor?

Yes. We must end this monopoly of political leadership. We supported him in 2005 when he changed the Constitution to lift term limits on the promise that 2006 was his last term. The man has refused to go.

But you were his number one fan

Yes. I still like President Museveni. I followed him, even when I was still abroad. He impressed me as a man who risked his life to fight dictatorship, extra-judicial killings and undemocratic processes. Many Ugandans, including myself, supported him for the restoration of the rule of law. If he still holds unto these principles, he should see no problem with Bukenya’s bid for the presidency.

My advice to him, though, is that he has done very well, but it is time he became a Julius Nyerere or an Arap Moi. Otherwise, his good deeds will be wasted if he forgets what he said in 1986, that Africa’s greatest problem was leaders who overstay in power.

What if the NRM Central Executive Committee blocks you?

Only death will stop me. If they block me using whatever technicality, I will stand as an independent candidate. I can only give up if Museveni beats me in free and fair NRM primaries.

Amama Mbabazi beat you and took on the post of secretary general, Museveni is much bigger Who does not know what happened in Namboole?

Do you know how much money was distributed? Can  you call that a fair election with no voters’ register? We just kept quiet because it is not advisable to scratch a wound that is healing. But you should also know that in politics, fortunes change. Museveni was defeated by Sam Kutesa in the 1980 elections for Nyabushozi County.

Today, he is the President of Uganda. Baganda say, “Akasajja akatono okanyomera mitala wamugga,” (meaning, never judge a book by its cover).

If they rigged then, what makes you think they won’t rig you out again?

I challenge Museveni to stand by the same democratic processes and principles he fought for. If not, I will stand as an independent. 2016 will be a different ball game and I will be playing number nine. I want the NRM voters’ register to be prepared in advance, and to have no voter bribing or any form of intimidation. The process should begin now. I do not want last-minute preparations.

The Electoral Commission must be prepared for the battle because they are the referees. We shall hold them accountable for any unfair refereeing. They should also begin preparing now for all their needs and requirements for a free and fair election. We need a computerised voters register and cards. They need to go to Kenya and see how the process was handled.

Some people like Brig. Kasirye Ggwanga say you lost moral authority after being convicted in the CHOGM corruption case

Some people should just keep quiet, instead of exposing their ignorance. I am not a convict. A mere allegation and court case does not make one a convict. I am happy I went through the entire court process and the judge said I did not have any case to answer.

After about 10 agonising days in Luzira, I learnt a lot. I realised there were many innocent people in jail. I also realised that humility is the key to success in life. Retaliation is not the best answer to persecution. But, after all that, I became the only one who went through the cleansing process of law and was acquitted.

I am the best suited, morally, to stand for the presidency and to fight corruption. I know so many questionable people who have not gone through the judicial process who should be worried, because we shall expose them.

What do you want to do that Museveni has failed to do?

I want to promote democracy, the rule of law and the rights and freedom of Ugandans. I want stronger state institutions to ensure that dictatorship is expunged forever. This business of enacting draconian laws must go. A law should be made when necessary, but not because somebody wants to use it for his  own interests.

Look at the Public  Order Management Bill, is it necessary? I warned the MPs that if they pass that Bill, they will have put a rope around their necks. How can you pass a law which says for three people to gather, they have to seek permission from the Police? That is infringing on the rights of Ugandans.

Museveni has been a master at the economy and household incomes which …

We get a lot of donor money, plus money from tax payers, but does it reach where poverty is? That money disappears somewhere. Look at my rice project. I went to villages and distributed rice seeds to farmers directly. I even went to their gardens and taught them how to plant, weed and harvest rice. Eradicating poverty is not talking, but practical implementation and I have already demonstrated that ability. Farmers were excited and that will be my major strategy for fighting poverty.

People forget easily. By 2016, few will be talking about your rice project

That is not true. The impact is greater than you can imagine. When we started the rice scheme, Uganda was importing rice at an average of $90m per year. Today, our importation of rice has dropped to about $20m. I remember when we started mobilising for rice growing, there was a New Vision article which called me a  Vice-President for growing rice. They said I was spending too much time in people’s gardens, but I wanted to make Uganda a net exporter of rice and to increase our food security by 90% through rice growing.

So, agriculture will be your main campaign strategy?

Anyone who thinks he or she can develop Uganda without putting serious emphasis on agriculture is a liar. Not even oil can beat agriculture.  We need to give agriculture a reasonable percentage of the national budget because that is where our comparative advantage is. Oil can be exhausted, but people will never stop eating.

What this country needs is a strategic plan anchored on key priorities and budget discipline. Many times budget money is re-allocated to non-essential areas.

I will emphasise rural industrialisation, especially industries that derive their raw materials from their localities. I have a pilot project employing 50 youth who use cattle horns to make crafts. Such initiatives should be boosted by government.

Any ploys being plotted against your bid for presidency?

I expect many attempts of blackmail, abuse and praise, but when you are as determined as I am in number 9, I will transcend and score for my team.

Only death can stop me - Bukenya

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