The decision by the Opposition bench to boycott President Yoweri Museveni’s address to Parliament last Thursday exposed the level at which Uganda is critically short of generational leadership to bolster the Vision of the Head-Of-State. This is partly why President Museveni remains so much relevant!
On the eve of the address- which culminated from discussions between the President and the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Anita Among, and in following up on a report forwarded to the President on findings of Parliamentarians from their recess on monitoring Parish Development Model (PDM)- the Leader of Opposition in Parliament (L.O.P), Hon. Matthias Mpuuga, declared that the Opposition bench would shun the address. He gave his grounds as “failure” by President Museveni to implement PDM; that the President should tell the country when he is sacking ministers named in the iron sheets saga and that he wanted the President to “give the country the timetable for transition.”
First of all, it is important to note that the opposition has failed to accept that Ugandans chose better and Museveni defeated his rivals. They still advance the same claim that they lost due to unfair play yet it is the same elections which brought their Members of Parliament (MPs) and other leaders in the Local Councils. If the elections were rigged, the best way to protest them is to resign those positions in one go, rather than selectively shunning one event and attending another, as and when it is convenient. What of the earnings they make from Government, headed by President Museveni; why not shun them so that the public will determine that they are serious and principled?
However, out of respect, I wish to address the reasons Mpuuga raised one by one.
On PDM, it is good that he picked interest in the programme, although on a wrong footing. H.E the President has continually appealed for all categories of leaders to be involved in implementing PDM. In his Thursday address, he again made that call, thus: “We are the ones to cause socio-economic transformation. You the MPs should take more time with the people. Talk and let them also talk to you; discuss what is holding them back”. By stating that Museveni had failed to implement PDM, Mpuuga was admitting failure to do his part as a leader. He should have been involved in ensuring that the program succeeds in his constituency, and countrywide. Did he file a report with the Speaker on the progress of the program like other MPs did, hence the basis of the President’s address in which he reacted to challenges that were noted in the report forwarded to him?
That aside, several districts and cities are already disbursing money to beneficiaries, after taking them through various stages of orientation, authentication and mindset development. PDM is an involving arrangement with strict guidelines to be met prior to disbursing funds to beneficiaries. Unlike what some people think, it’s not just about handing out money-the pillar of mindset preparation is key, and that’s why all leaders ought to be seen pushing hard. Why is it that when the ordinary Uganda has an opportunity to get direct support from Government some of the leaders look the other side, without trying to prepare the people to embrace the opportunities, yet for them they are already earning from their jobs? Let us stop discouraging and misleading bannaUganda!
On the iron sheets saga, it is H. E the President who ordered the probe. When investigations are complete, the full force of the law will apply. It should be noted that Uganda of Museveni is not like that of Amin where people would just be bundled off without following due procedures or trying them in courts of law, and getting killed. No one who is culpable will escape the strong arm of the law in this case or any other. What the opposition should be doing is to thank the President for dispatching teams to investigate the scandal and make things known.
On the transition question, Hon. Mpuuga is lowering the stature of the office of L.O.P with such talk. How can he talk of transition only two years into the current term of office? It’s time to work. Transition is in the hands of Ugandans within the democratic framework prevailing in the country. Has the Hon. Mpuuga told his people of Nyendo-Mukungwe Constituency when he is leaving power yet?
Another reason for the boycott which I heard from the sidelines is that there are members of the opposition who are missing-allegedly kidnapped-and that their whereabouts are unknown. I have been deeply involved with following up these claims with investigators and written about them. The last I heard was that out of the “thousands” alleged to be missing, when asked for details on their particulars, NUP only raised 25 names, many of whose owners were found to have returned home (after being charged with criminal offences) while others were simply nonexistent. We need to be serious in this our Uganda if we want to go far!
If the boycott move was informed by the need for Mpuuga to prove his radicalism credentials as it is alleged that the NUP leadership demands of him, this was the wrong occasion because the role of a legislator is to attend Parliament and raise issues or listen to views from others. Good enough, there was quorum and the move had no effect. Moreover, some opposition MPs attended the address. I thank all those who attended and the members of the General Public who followed proceedings live on radio, TV and digital platforms, and got the message!
The author is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary
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