By Cyprian Musoke & Joel Ogwang
PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni yesterday scoffed at unpatriotic politicians who only stay in Uganda during â€œfair-weatherâ€ times.
Addressing mourners at the burial of former agriculture minister Kibirige Ssebunya in Katente village, Mukono district, Museveni hailed him as a patriot who stayed in Uganda during turbulent times and continued to carry out research.
He recalled that in 1986, when the NRM took power, he was looking for scientists to carry out research.
â€œAll officers at Kawanda Agricultural Research Station had fled for greener pastures. I found there this man who told me that despite the problems that had befallen Uganda, research at Kawanda was going on,â€ the President said.
â€œI kept remembering this scientist who had stuck with Uganda. He was no fair-weather Ugandan who is only here when things are alright. Ssebunya was not seasonal.â€
The burial was also attended by the First Lady, Mrs. Janet Museveni, Vice-President Dr. Gilbert Bukenya, Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi, Speaker Edward Ssekandi, the Speaker of Buganda and an array of ministers, MPs and NRM officials, including the vice-chairmen for north and east, Moses Ali and Mike Mukula respectively.
Museveni said he kept Ssebunya in the agriculture portfolio for 12 years because he had a lot of confidence and respect in him.
â€œSome Ugandans are not able to see the core issues. What I saw in Kibirige was a patriot and a very good scientist. I couldnâ€™t change him. I only change when there is a reason.â€
Ssebunyaâ€™s shortcomings, the President added, were trivial issues that were not of his concern as long as he loved his country and was a good scientist. Museveni said Ssebunya also helped the Movement liberate Kyadondo North constituency because â€œall sorts of people were playing in it and confusing the peopleâ€.
Agriculture minister Hillary Onek described Ssebunya as a scientist who had done a lot to develop agriculture in Uganda.
â€œBecause of him, Uganda is now leading in agricultural research in Africa. Ssebunya is also recognised internationally for his contribution to agricultural science, besides the clonal coffee and cassava resistant varieties he introduced,â€ he said.
Mukono diocesan Bishop Paul Luzinda rapped corrupt politicians and leaders who divide the people.
â€œYou, politicians, have stolen a lot of funds meant to empower Ugandans to fight poverty. You have to repent,â€ he said to cheers from the mourners.
The widow, Tereza Ssebunya, said her husband never informed her or the rest of the family that he was suffering from cancer.
Mrs. Ssebunya, who is a lecturer at a university in Botswana, said the lack of information about his sickness was the reason why she did not attend to him during his final days.