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    OPINION: If Given Power, Bobi Wine And His Acolytes Will Justify Their Own Corruption And Incompetence On Grounds That Museveni And His NRM Confederates Were Corrupt And Incompetent Too…

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    NUP Principal Bobi Wine and Mwenda (inset)

    Presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine has been hosting large rallies across the country. Tens of thousands of his supporters gather in close contact, vast numbers without masks, in total disregard for the COVID19 SOPs. In one video, which I have watched from the beginning to the end, he tells his supporters: “those with masks should wear them and those without masks it is okay”.

    The world is engulfed in this COVID19 pandemic. As I write this article, it has infected over 75m people and killed 1.7m. Over 20m people are hospitalized with COVID19 worldwide, 107,000 in critical condition. Hospitals even in the richest countries are overwhelmed, without enough beds, medical staff, ventilators and other facilities. In poor countries, which seem to have escaped the worst of this pandemic, the situation is alarming.

    In Uganda, even with our low testing, nearly 30,000 people have been infected, 228 others killed. These numbers are low by global and African standards. But our medical facilities and staff are already overwhelmed as we have very few Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and medical staff to cope with the scale and scope of the problem. We are in a crisis where we need leaders to set an example.

    We have a government and a president, Yoweri Museveni that have been in power for 35 years. Bobi Wine and his acolytes claim, and in many cases correctly so, that this government (which they derogatorily call a “regime”) is characterized by massive corruption and gross incompetence; that it is dominated by selfish and greedy individuals who are in power to line their own pockets rather than serve the common good. They have been calling for a change in leadership in order to redirect the country onto the paths of selfless public service, underwritten by values of honesty, frugality, integrity and a strong commitment to the common good.

    Museveni and his confederates are campaigning on the “no- change” platform i.e. to maintain the status quo or the situation as it is. It follows that the opposition and most specifically Bobi Wine and his NUP, should demonstrate that they are the pillars of a new Uganda, saviors standing on the highest hill of moral virtue. They need to demonstrate to us that they seek a real change in the conduct of public affairs by placing the vital interests of this country and its people above their individual and collective ambitions.

    Yet during this campaign, Bobi Wine has demonstrated that he has one and only one value that he cherishes above all else – getting into power, whatever the cost. From the perspective of realpolitik, that is fine. But from the perspective of a change agent he claims to be, one who wants to end the greed and selfishness that has characterized the Museveni administration, I vehemently disagree with him. Bobi Wine has exposed himself as just another selfish, power-hungry politician seeking power above all else.

    Many families have lost loved ones in this pandemic, I having lost four in one month of November. Others have their loved ones in ICUs, in HDUs [High Dependency Unit] or have gone through the agony and anxiety of tending to the sick. If the virus spreads, this country has no capacity to manage its effects. It will simply decimate our people. It is therefore incumbent on our leaders to take social distancing, the wearing of masks, avoidance of large gatherings and constantly sanitizing not just as a strategic imperative, but most critically, as an existential necessity.

    President Museveni has tried his best to adhere to the SOPs, to his great political disadvantage – since we know rallies are vital in campaigns. Other presidential candidates should also lead by such an example. But Bobi Wine is leading his supporters and admirers to mass suicide. Not since the mass suicide of “Pastor” Kibwetere’s cult members in 2000 has Uganda witnessed the recklessness and irresponsibility that Bobi Wine has exhibited in this campaign to the applause of his intellectual surrogates and admirers.

    In my many unhappy encounters with some of my intellectual friends who are sympathetic to Bobi Wine’s cause, I have been disappointed. Some of these are persons who have preached to me the virtues of a values-driven leadership. Yet the justification for Bobi Wine’s irresponsibility is that Museveni should not have called an election in the midst of a pandemic, that NRM candidates are violating the SOPs, that the government has blocked their candidate from accessing to most radio stations across the country.

    Let us unpacked these arguments, all of which are legitimate but fail to appreciate the moral pedestal of Bobi Wine’s campaign: do these impediments justify a person seeking the presidency to drive his supporters, and through them the entire country, to mass suicide? Do some of our elites see the risk these rallies are posing? Does Bobi Wine want to inherit a country of millions of sick and dying citizens? Is this the price we must pay for change from corruption and incompetence, the price of mass death to a pandemic?

    I find it strange that Bobi Wine and his acolytes can justify their wanton irresponsibility by referring to the behavior of NRM candidates. If NRM candidates are violating the SOPs without police doing anything, should NUP candidates do similar? Is it not the role of NUP and other opposition politicians to hammer home how selfish NRM is, how its leaders do not care about the public good? How does behaving like NRM make NUP and others any different?

    The claim that Museveni should have not held an election falls flat on its face. At least we have witnessed another country, the USA, go through one. In that election one candidate, President Donald Trump, behaved like Bobi Wine and led his supporters and country to tragedy. Another candidate, Joe Biden, behaved well, avoided rallies, upheld the highest standards of political and moral responsibility – and won. I applaud Biden and condemn Trump in the same way I wish Bobi Wine bad luck in this election.

    When in power, Bobi Wine and his acolytes will justify their own corruption and incompetence on grounds that Museveni and his NRM confederates were corrupt and incompetent too. They will justify clump down on our freedoms and liberties on grounds that Museveni did similar. They will justify nepotism, favoratism, anarchism, chaos, etc. on similar grounds. One can tell a tree that will deliver good fruit from its seedling and we have seen who Bobi Wine is.

    Here is the real crisis of Uganda’s politics: we don’t have real leaders seeking a change from our current dysfunctions. We have a cabal of opportunistic politicians seeking power in order to inherit the privileges of their predecessors. We do not have an intellectual class or civil society that stands above partisan rancor that seeks to hold all sides to account and without fear or favor. In fact, since NRM is a status quo party campaign on a no change platform, we need to scrutinize the opposition politicians who champion change more.

    This country is filled with partisans who have no interest to change the policies and practices of the current government. we only have self-interest individuals – materially or emotionally or both – seeking to remove Museveni and his confederates so that they too can have a chance at the feeding trough. Otherwise no sane intellectual person can defend Bobi Wine’s mass suicide rallies under any explanation.

    The writer, Andrew Mwenda is a veteran investigative journalist,

    Political analyst and founder/owner of The Independent News Magazine.

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    NATIONAL

    OPINION: What Is Good For FDC-NUP Is Good For NRM-DP…

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    “My life has been consecrated to the Ugandan people who I seek to serve guided by God’s will. Despite the slings and arrows of detractors and many personal setbacks my devotion to the tasks I set myself remain unwavering! I strive regardless. The more I fail, the more I strive!”

    This was a tweet I came across posted by the newly appointed Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Nobert Mao-an appeal for divine grace in a bid to serve his nation.

    Almost immediately, I saw another tweet from Hon. Betty Nambooze, the Mukono Municipality MP:

    “The Pumpkin was harvested, cooked and eaten and it will now face all what cooked and eaten Pumpkins face… Mao is now fully an Absolute-Zero Politician”.

    “Pumpkin” is a nickname that Nambooze gave to Mao a while back during one of the heated moments in their “inhouse” rivalry for supremacy.

    Nambooze’s tweet is a representation of all voices that have heaped scorn on Mao, the reigning President General of the Democratic Party (DP) for reaching a working cooperation agreement with the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, an agreement which he signed with the NRM supremo, President Yoweri Museveni, at State House, Entebbe.

    If there is anything Uganda does not need at this time it is politics of hate and violence. Our country is ripe for politics based on finding common ground to work together to resolve challenges we face in the transformation of our country.

    For those complaining and attacking Mao for inking the agreement, what principles are they working with? On a number of occasions, and most recently in the Soroti City East Constituency elections, we saw FDC and NUP coalescing around one candidate, Moses Attan, instead of each fielding its own contestant. They believed that this would give them an advantage over the NRM candidate. It didn’t turn out well for Attan but the principle of working together for common interest was not lost.

    Obviously, if both parties had fielded candidates, they would have split votes and performed even worse. So, the idea of coming together is never a bad idea and the opposition has benefitted from it on a number of occasions much to the disadvantage of NRM whenever losers in its primaries have opted to go independent against the official party candidate.

    And such unity has always been lauded as mature and progressive. But why is it that when NRM and DP agree to work together the same people have no kind words? Is it too much fear of NRM, too much hatred of Mao or just hypocrisy?

    In next door Kenya, there is a culture of coalitions that is quite difficult to predict. At their most recent elections, they have always had formations pitting friends in a previous election stiffly against each other and foes from the same election standing together. For example, in the tensest elections of 2007, now Deputy President, William Ruto, was on the side of Raila Odinga while Uhuru Kenyatta, his current boss, was on the side of late Mwai Kibaki. However, by 2013, Ruto and Uhuru were on the same side against Odinga who teamed up with Moses Wetangula, Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi. The formation remained the same in 2017, even when a re-election was ordered by Court after annulment of that year’s Uhuruto win.

    In a turn of events, in this year’s elections set for August 9, Uhuru is backing Odinga in the Azimio La Umoja coalition while Ruto is with Mudavadi in Kenya Kwanza Alliance. Kenya makes true the saying that there are no permanent enemies or friends in politics.

    The very same Ugandans who always praise the Kenyan model as maturity politics at play are the same ones attacking Museveni and Mao-they accuse the President of “buying off” the opposition while accusing Mao of selling his soul as if he had a contract with them on how to build his leadership career.

    Mao is a born leader who has always aspired at many levels and among the qualities that identify him uniquely is politics of ideas and nonviolence unlike the radical brigade of pushers who believe that they must cause regime change forcefully. While they have been at loggerheads with Mao already, cooperating with NRM is particularly annoying because deep down they know that Ugandans will more likely shift base to politics that gives them hope and which is based on unity and looking beyond elections or regime change.

    Even if the regime changed but leaders on both sides of the divide cannot come together to work on things that benefit their people regardless of their different political convictions, then those leaders become misleaders.

    There is a lot to cooperate on; all Ugandans, regardless of what politicians tell them, want development and involvement in Government empowerment programmes such as Parish Development Model (PDM); all Ugandans want security, they want better healthcare, food and a working formula for effective service delivery.

    It should be remembered that President Museveni has always operated some kind of “coalition Government” because of his philosophy of inclusivity. Right from 1986, he had “opponents” like Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, Ssebaana Kizito, Abu Mayanja, Mayanja Nkangi, Maria Mutagamba. Even now, he has UPC’s Betty Amongi as Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development and Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo of FDC as Minister of State for ICT.

    Moreover, Parliament, an arm of Government, and some local councils have membership and leadership from the opposition. What is different when Mao joins them to serve? They should let him be!

     

    Faruk Kirunda is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary

    Contact: faruk.kirunda@statehouse.go.ug

    0776980486/0702980486

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    NEWS

    Amend Local Gov’t Act To Squeeze The Corrupt In Districts…

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    Some of the 12 suspects attached to Busia Municipality who included; the Town Clerk, CFO, Commercial Officer, Eng officer, Western Div Town Clerk, Div Treasurer, Procurement Officer, Acting Municipal Eng & the Principal Health Supervisor, who were arrested by the State House Anti-corruption unit. Inset is Faruk Kirunda the writer

    Fighting corruption and finally weeding it out is the biggest war in Uganda today. Everything must be done until all the corrupt lose appetite for it.

    Much of the corruption manifests in the districts and thrives with the collusion of “permanent and pensionable” Local Government staff. Technocrats, assured of job security and privileged to spend limitless tenures in districts of posting are able to form a complicated corrupt web which they use to swindle Government money.

    Technocrats have proven to be detached from the ground; they sit in offices all day waiting for deals and anybody seeking services from whom they can extort bribes. Despite the best intentions of the leadership to steer Uganda to greatness, such technocrats are a burden on collective national progress. They have this impression that being non-partisan and not being politicians means being actively defiant in service against Government policy objectives.

    It is much worse in regard to President Museveni; his well-articulated policies for transformation and effective service delivery mean little or nothing to technocrats assured of a stable source of income, with fixed terms no matter the state of the economy and the plight of the masses. All they stand for is how to earn more from Government coffers and this is the bedrock of corruption.

    How they work is that they starve members of the public of services and information about services until the people tire and become desperate, then they squeeze them for bribes. They make Government services look like a privilege that people must pay for even if they already pay taxes to fund those services.

    That is how patients come to be charged at Government hospitals, for example. Nothing makes me sick like a Government worker being so bent on being corrupt that they throw all caution and professionalism to the wind, while acting so confident like they own Uganda. Where the good ones exercise restraint in their duties to avoid making mistakes, the corrupt are so confident and diligent that they make everybody look bad.

    The bad apples create “impunity rings” in which they use the decentralisation cover to set their own rules and run Government service aground. You find them doing their own things, as if they operate in a different country not managed by the Central Government. It is why when the State Minister for Economic Monitoring, Hon. Peter Ogwang, went around the country, he unearthed a regime of flagrant abuse of Government resources and systems. You wouldn’t believe that the errant were our own. You find someone doing unbelievable things on the assumption that they have so much power and cannot be questioned.

    Heads of Department like District Education Officers (DEOs), Chief Finance Officers (CFOs), District Engineers, District Health Officers (DHOs), District Planners, enjoy broad powers to an extent that working together, they can frustrate operations of the units. They control budgets. They are supervised by LC 5 chairpersons who tend to have personal political interests. Then there are weak Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) who cannot make decisions and who get “commissions” from these HODs and fail to hold them accountable.

    It’s RDCs saving the situation, since they are managed by the center and with very strict guidelines of service. It would be much worse if CAOs were appointed at the districts. District Service Commissions (DSCs) are not helping matters. There is reason to believe that jobs are given under wrong influence and after, the Commission has no role in following up their recruits to ascertain how they fare in service.

    It’s my preferred opinion that the Central Government recalls powers to appoint, transfer and fire district Local Government staff. Those are HODS. Districts should only recruit Sub-County staff, and lower. These powers can always be granted back when the public regains trust in the Local Governments.

    The other safeguard is to put workers on contracts, which are only renewed, let us say, every three years, subject to performance.

    Here, “performance audit”, which is President Museveni’s preferred method for checking every Government worker’s efficiency and contribution to service delivery, would apply. In today’s standing, “permanent and pensionable” workers benefit from absence of standardised performance reviews; they are not given work targets or expected deliverables by which they can be examined. The less work they do as they await their regular pay cheque until they clock retirement age, the better for them.

    Uganda Government is the most generous Government in the world, I must say. There are people earning for doing less work, because of absence of an apparent system of rewarding mediocrity, thus making a few committed patriots in service do the donkey work. People are qualified, some very highly, but they lack the spirit of Ubuntu and patriotism but hold positions in civil service where they are remunerated for just sitting and swinging in their chairs.

    All the responsibility for implementing policy ideas is pushed back to the center which is heavy with management of national affairs. This kills the essence of decentralisation, devolution of powers and “popular” creation of lower administrative units which were meant to ease decision-making and facilitate faster implementation of policy and service delivery.

     

    Faruk Kirunda is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary

    Contact: faruk.kirunda@statehouse.go.ug

    0776980486/0702980486

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    NATIONAL

    OPINION: Is There A Big Motive To Fail EAC Integration? Why DRC Is Becoming A Theatre Of Foreign Interference…

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    CDFs of EAC countries pose for a group photo early this week. Inset is Faruk Kirunda

    Who is responsible for the flare up of violence at the Congo border(s) with Uganda and Rwanda? How come that the Congolese are angry with Uganda and Rwanda at a time the two countries are engaged in battling armed groups operating in the vast country that recently joined the East African Community (EAC)?

    As Africans, we are to blame for much of the instability going on our continent due to artificial divisions and unprincipled nature of our people and weakness of some leaders. However, if one looks closely, he or she can see the hand of foreign elements in action.

    How come that the flare up of violence arises just as the EAC solidifies, thereby opening up the region for mutual trade and socialisation while strengthening strategic security? The answer is that there is no coincidence in this; the same forces that have always fought African unity and progress are at play to fail the regional integration dream.

    Last year, Uganda deployed its army, Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in the DRC provinces of North Kivu and Ituri to flash out the ADF rebels who had been making daring incursions in Uganda, shooting big personalities in their cars and planting bombs that killed scores in Kampala. ADF has been more of a menace in DRC where they would carry out systematic butcherings of the population in the East part of the country. They had a plan to spread their reign of terror regionally, and then team up with other groups to make the region uninhabitable and ungovernable. UPDF’s intervention was a total necessity that has saved our people from bloodshed.

    Codenamed “Operation Shujaa”, the operation is still on and has so far made the killer groups sneeze; they have scattered and lost appetite for their crimes, as President Yoweri Museveni, the man behind the move to totally pacify the Great Lakes region and make Africa a powerhouse that can defend itself at all times, would say.

    Teaming up with the Congolese army (FARDC) ensured better coordination and pooling of logistics to give the rebels a bloody nose. It also gave the operation legitimacy since the Congo Government had given it a green light. The Congolese people were relieved and welcomed the operation, treating the Uganda soldiers as heroes and according them due support.

    The deployment had been long in coming and was done out of the greatest necessity given how much trouble had been brewing in that part of the region. The deployment was done transparently.

    President Museveni, in his capacity as Commander-In-Chief (C-I-C) of the UPDF authorised the operations within his Constitutional powers, obligations and responsibilities as per the Oath he took while assuming office in swearing to protect Ugandans and their property.

    Since assuming power in 1986, President Museveni has emphasised security of person and property as the bedrock of democracy and transformation. He has made security his key constituency in the defence of which he has battled numerous threats and neutralised them, locally and internationally.

    ADF has been among the few latent groups attempting a resurge and he was not about to stand by and look. The Congolese were crying, Ugandans were hurting and there was no one to help. It was time to send it where all other groups that attempted to destabilise Uganda ended up and make them pay for their crimes. And paying they have been!

    Then, suddenly, we hear that the Congolese population is up in arms against Uganda and Rwanda, blaming them for the resurgence of activities by a different rebel group, M23, which is fighting the Congolese Government. I am not well-versed with the formations and motives of some of these groups but what I know is that ADF was started to fight President Museveni’s Government. When defeated, they fled and set up their bases in DRC and began to work as guns for hire and promoters of fundamentalist ideology in the region. They also went into plundering natural resources and the farms of the Congolese, on top of killing them.

    The war against ADF must not be fought in halves; it should be fought until ADF is totally no more, then, if need be, the firepower is directed to other enemies operating in the same theatre of action. I have reason to believe that there is such a plan in the pipeline and that is what is causing hostile elements backing and benefitting from the activities of the terror groups to panic and seek to redeem their schemes by stirring mass discontent among the Congolese so that Pan-Africanist forces like UPDF are turned away from completing the task at hand.

    It also has to do with the rekindling of relations between Uganda and Rwanda of recent. With the historical bonds restored between the two countries, prospects of regional stability and Integration are brighter and Africa’s enemies hate to see this. They are now behind-the-scenes engineering schemes to turn the DRC against Uganda and Rwanda so that they remain in charge of the vast resource-rich Eastern DRC territory.

    But the bigger motive is to fail EAC Integration. Africans, let us avoid being manipulated to fight each other so that we miss the bigger picture of where we could be if we agreed to integrate!

    Faruk Kirunda is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary
    Contact 0776980483/0783990861
    Email: kirundaf2@gmail.com

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