Saturday,July 11,2020 23:48 PM

Why Tumukunde went for Lukwago's seat

By Umaru Kashaka

Added 27th July 2019 04:20 PM

I am mobilising voters to change the leadership in Kampala. Kampala is an important sub-area of Uganda. It is the face of Uganda and centre of influence, comprising 10 million people.

Why Tumukunde went for Lukwago's seat

I am mobilising voters to change the leadership in Kampala. Kampala is an important sub-area of Uganda. It is the face of Uganda and centre of influence, comprising 10 million people.

Former security minister Lt Gen (rtd) Henry Tumukunde, is said to be aspiring for the Kampala Lord Mayor's seat in 2021. UMARU KASHAKA interviewed him on a wide range of issues, including his alleged fights with the former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Gen. Kale Kayihura and President Yoweri Museveni succession.

So, how far have you gone with your plans to unseat Erias Lukwago?
I am consulting. I do not storm into decisions; I am a mathematical dealer. I want to check whether I can play very well here (as Lord Mayor), how many prejudices are against me and how received am I. Fortunately, I am very well received because of my history.

Having served in the military, do you feel fulfilled?
Yes, because whenever I was given opportunity, I performed to my best. I have served the government for an average of 13-15 years and in that period, I made a mark.

Apart from ending bomb blasts in Kampala in the late 1990s, what else would you consider your biggest achievement?
I brought an end to (Lord's Resistance Army leader) Joseph Kony. I went to northern Uganda as a division commander and my first investigation was how Kony feeds. I noticed that he was getting this food from IDPs (internally displaced persons). So, we sealed it (IDP camp) off. That is when he fled to northern Uganda. So, I was effective as a commander.

Why are you mobilising in Kampala?
I am mobilising voters to change the leadership in Kampala. Kampala is an important sub-area of Uganda. It is the face of Uganda and centre of influence, comprising 10 million people.

So, I will never be hanged for not trying to try. When you change Kampala, you will largely change Uganda.

What is your plan for Kampala?
Kampala is a national problem. It contributes to the economy in volumes and so, it should get something in equal value. But Kampala and its residents need to be organised. If you go to Katanga (one of Kampala's biggest slums) you will find three toilets which are closed at 7:00 pm; so, what happens after that?

Can you apply timers on human beings? But a mayor in himself may not solve all these, neither can the resources allocated to Kampala. So that is why I am patiently consulting. I will decide according to what I find on the ground.

But you were up there as a minister. Aren't you stooping low to compete for a mayoral seat, which is largely ceremonial?
But why should the Lord Mayor's seat be ceremonial? The laws that made it ceremonial can make it substantive. Are we too late to amend the laws? No! We are going to contribute our views (to the KCCA Bill). Why should Kampala's mayor be necessarily excluded from the rest of the mayorships when it is the most important city? And in any case, if votes decide politics, why should one voted power freeze another voted officer?

How do you expect to win in Kampala which is an opposition stronghold?
Haven't you seen the Opposition voting a person on individual merit? Ugandans are capable of checking whether things are working in their favour or not. People know what they want, and time will tell. But it is also whether people get to understand that you understand their problems.

There are 64 slums in Kampala. Schools are submerged in Bwaise! Can't the leaders, for example, break or sort out the problem? The Netherlands is below sea level; so why should Bwaise be complicated mathematics? You can either relocate people or drain Bwaise.

I hope you know that Lukwago is still a force to reckon with.

But why would I want to contest with somebody who is not a force to reckon with?

Many people wondered why the President sacked you as security minister?
You are asking the wrong person; President Museveni should give you the answer. But in all fairness, I am honoured to be so favoured by the public; if an appointing authority thinks you have come to an end, then he ceases to appoint you. 
The bigger point is sometimes working to appoint yourself because political jobs are wide and open. You do not have to entirely depend on the mercy of appointments. 

Were you sacked because of your clashes with Kayihura?
Kayihura was an IGP, I was a minister. There was no direct link between us. Secondly, in politics, the playground is not very plain. There are some organised forces whose main intention is to crush some players. So, if you are not careful enough, you will always be consumed into what are imaginary differences.

Gen. Kayihura did a good job as far as I am concerned. When you meet a Police Officer on the streets, he is excited and full of confidence. And that had always been my prayer.

So, Kayihura deserves to be credited for that. However, his time was also associated with predominant lawlessness because we incorporated people who were not qualified into the system of managing law and order. We have always depended on the population to gather intelligence, but we have always been careful not to incorporate them in the solutions of intelligence.

People say you were given a mission as security minister to finish off Kayihura.
Are you saying I am useable? That I was used and discarded? That presumes that I am some useable material for President Museveni. That he uses me when he wishes and drops me when he wishes and that I am always very happy about it or that I work with him under that table. That is a gazetted joke. It minimises my individual capacity. I am largely capable and competent and, therefore, may not be good material for usability.

People have dragged in the issue of Rwanda in your clashes with Kayihura
The Rwandans have their country; we have ours. My job was to defend Uganda. Let me say this without mincing words: anyone operating in this country must respect our institutions, our leadership and our country.

And this, for me, is very fundamental. Ugandans are now respected; I do not want us to return to the days when people were putting us aside at international airports just because we carried a Ugandan passport. We progressed and we must protect our progress. So, anyone playing here must do it with absolute respect of our institutions, systems and leadership.

People say you clashed with Kayihura over his huge budget vis-à-vis what you were allocated
Do ministers handle budgets? No! That should have been Col. Kaka Bagyenda's (Internal Security Organisation director-general) or Joseph Ocwet's (director-general External Security Organisation) business. In every institution, there is an accounting officer. I was just a policy manager as a minister. You tend to spend a lot of your energies on generals. There is a Uganda of tomorrow.

What is the Uganda of tomorrow?
For example, in 2021, 4.3 million Ugandans will vote for the first time after clocking 18. How will you manage them? How will you provide them with jobs? How will you take care of their expectations? And how long are we going to continue exporting raw coffee or raw tea? Or continue to depend on the hoe for production when Malaysians hanged it in 1972? We were richer than Singapore and South Korea, but they are now far ahead of us.

So, how do we tap into human capital? Look at health services; do you know we have so many doctors in South Africa? Why don't you bring them here? Where is their soft landing? Do you want to continue paying millions going to India? How long are we going to go like this? Importing everything — a safety pin, needle, thread.

Wonderful ideas! You need to be reappointed! Why doesn't the President see this?
The political space is wide open. It is a question of whether I can fit myself in. I am healthy and available. But why are you limited to being appointed? Museveni has not been appointed for a very long time. The Lord Mayor of Kampala is not appointed. He is elected. The MPs are not appointed.

How do you look at Uganda's future?
You should stop being overdependent on President Museveni. You should also stop being overcritical. What are you doing for your country? How much time do you spend thinking about your country?

You keep campaigning for President Museveni; why don't you allow him to retire?
President Museveni will not retire himself; it is the voters who will retire him. So, if you have issues with how he has served for so long, participate in your country's politics and speak for change. That is your privilege. You should also participate in elections and mobilise the voters for change. So, when everybody is sitting and the only active man is President Museveni, you want to tell me he will retire himself?

How do you expect to win in Kampala when you failed in your own home district, Rukungiri, to garner enough support for President Museveni to defeat Dr Kizza Besigye there in 2016 elections?
Who told you garnering support for the President is equal to garnering support for yourself? But it is also about how you manage some of these elections. I am very sure Rukungiri can vote me, either in the municipality or Rubabo.

What is your take on Kyadondo East MP Bobi Wine's presidential bid?
Bobi Wine is an up-and-coming politician. He has occupied space most of you fear to occupy. He also raises crowds. But I want to ask: Is Uganda so easy to manage? Who of the leaders offering themselves have the competence to manage it? However, this should not stop or thwart up and- coming leaders. Bobi Wine is an up-and-coming leader; so was Museveni in 1981.

Is he a threat to Museveni?
Well, the voting box will tell us. The natural process of selecting leadership is simply at play. Like it is in Kampala: me, Lukwago and Jose Chameleone can offer ourselves and Ugandans decide.

Your colleagues in NRM dismiss Besigye as a power-hungry attention seeker? Do you agree?
He got 3.2 million votes, do you dismiss such a person? 3.2 million votes are not ordinary! Is anyone who contests for political office power-hungry? Then why did they put a contest in the first place? Having other political views does not make him a bad person.

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