By Faruk Kirunda
On October 9, 2022, former Kawempe South MP, Hon. Mubarak Munyagwa Serunga, while appearing on “NBS Eagle” programme made various allegations targeting the person of the President and I wish to respond accordingly;
Hon. Munyagwa, for reasons best known to him, stated that H.E the President paid and ordered Mr. Wafula Chebukati, the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of Kenya to rig the recent General Elections in favour of H.E Dr. William Ruto.
First of all, Hon. Munyagwa should produce empirical evidence to prove his allegations. How did the President do as claimed and how come that it is Hon. Munyagwa who claims to know about it? Was he (Munyagwa) involved? How much money was involved, how was it transmitted, and so on? Secondly, after the Kenya elections, there was a petition filed by the Raila Odinga side in the Supreme Court. Did this issue arise in the proceedings? Why didn’t Munyagwa present it and adduce the accompanying evidence to benefit the Kenyan people and the cause of democracy? What is the benefit of going on TV and “gossiping” about it? I call upon the Government of Kenya, that of Uganda and Mr. Chebukati not to take this allegation lightly. It must be subjected to legal scrutiny. The allegation depicts Uganda meddling in the Kenya elections. If this gets into the ears of those who lost the election, it can start a dangerous response from them which may culminate into civil strife and destroy the much-fostered efforts for East African Integration. Could this be one of the aims of agents like Munyagwa? This is the potential effect of this propaganda and it should not be taken lightly. The former MP should be granted or invited to a forum where he should substantiate his allegations.
However, the continuous silence by some of our leaders on such sensitive issues is what is causing this unfounded propaganda to be fanned to grow beyond caution. The Government actors should not first wait for His Excellency the President to rise up against such propaganda. They should wake up and defuse these negative claims from elements such as Hon. Munyagwa whose motives are suspected to be seeing Uganda being isolated and the East African unity collapsing. Uganda is land locked. We need Kenya as much as we need all our neighbors. By saying what you say, Hon. Munyagwa, you should know that you are endangering your brothers and sisters who are doing business with and through Kenya. These remarks do not help Uganda and neither the future of our Integration.
Hon. Munyagwa also claimed that H.E the President forced the Kenyan President, Dr. William Ruto, to talk about removing borders among the East African countries during the 60th Independence Day celebrations yet countries like Rwanda and Tanzania are against the move; this is a straight forward matter. When you talk of the East African Common Market, and generally East African Integration, you are actually talking about opening boarders. When you talk of the Standard Gauge Railway, the East African Oil Pipeline Project and many such others you are indeed talking about opening boarders. Unless it is the language Dr. Ruto used that you did not understand. All the East African Presidents are supportive of Integration. Hon. Munyagwa should take time off and understand the mission and objectives of Integration.
But the claim is also an insult to the leader of a sovereign country. Is Hon. Munyagwa averred that Dr. Ruto, a holder of a PHD- and a veteran leader at various levels- has no mental capacity to grasp the concept of Integration on his own and address it accordingly? Even if it were true that some countries are opposed to Integration, does that stop others from vouching for it? If Munyagwa is opposed to the idea of Integration, why doesn’t he say so other than riding on imaginary schisms among partner states? From the preceding issue and this one, I can now tell that his hatred for President Museveni clouds his judgment in every matter and he is now extending it to perceived “friends” of the President. “Babies” such as Integration should not be politicised; they should be rallying points for all of us as Africans.
Hon. Munyagwa alleged that the NRM Government has been killing innocent Ugandans ever since it took over power in 1986. I need to pose this question to Hon. Munyagwa: What are these killings you refer to? To the best of my understanding of this subject, we have not seen people paraded for killing. There has never been an order to kill innocent people. Can Hon. Munyagwa name those innocent victims and when and where they were killed and by whom? Why would the Government kill innocent citizens who are the bedrock of its support and for whom the NRA/NRM bush war was fought?
The NRM Government only confronts criminal elements. In 2012 during the Hon. Cerina Nebanda (R.I.P) saga, H.E the President came out and stated the Government’s position; he said that the Government has killed people but those actively involved in criminality and who cannot be subdued any other way. That is the practice world over. No Government spares armed adversaries that pose danger to the general population. There is no deliberate action to kill innocent Ugandans as alleged. The NRM does not believe in killing innocent Ugandans.
To prove this, even the aggrieved parties from Kasese who went to the ICC alleging murders of innocent civilians could not prove their case and this case against the Government of Uganda was dismissed. Hon. Munyagwa should serve the high cause of justice and provide a list of “innocent Ugandans” killed since 1986.
During the same programme, Hon. Munyagwa alleged that H.E the President wants to take control of the coffee business from Ugandans, yet it is the only business they are remaining with to earn a living: first of all, the President has come out, specifically on the Vinci coffee deal to state clearly his position. It is not true that the President is taking up people’s coffee farms. It doesn’t make sense even thinking about that possibility in practical terms. The President is merely advocating for extraction of maximum value from our coffee through aggressive marketing and must-do processing as opposed to exporting it raw and, in effect, exporting jobs and money to non-coffee producing countries. Has Hon. Munyagwa taken interest to know how much we earn selling unprocessed coffee and how much we spend buying imported products processed from coffee?
The President’s aim is to have our coffee fetch more on the global market so we earn big as a country and as farmers. Our farmers do not have the capacity to individually add value to coffee. That is why it should be a collective Government effort. President Museveni is visionary and considerate enough to determine that the Ugandan farmer has been cheated enough and that the unfair balance of coffee trade must end if we are to secure the economic near future of Ugandans.
By and large, value-addition should be a hallmark of the economic outlook for leaders who are looking ahead. Many of us would like to copy the transformational efforts of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. However, we only end at appreciating the output and effects of such movements like Ujamaa but we do not interrogate how they did it. President Museveni does not own coffee farms and neither is he interested in becoming a coffee businessman; he is only providing visionary leadership in what is best to promote the coffee industry in Uganda as a modern economy. Can Hon. Munyagwa name any farmer whose business the President has taken over or threatened to take over?
Also, the former legislator alleged that the President has divided Ugandans along tribal lines and favoured those from Western Uganda, especially through appointments to key Government positions; this allegation has been overused by politicians but they have failed to justify it among the people. Is there any leader that has galvanised Ugandans and erased sectarian lines in considering Government appointments. Uganda before Museveni was sharply divided along tribal lines. May be Munyagwa is still caught in the hangover of those Governments where people from different ethnicities could not cross paths and the country was on the verge of genocide. It’s that disunity that made the country ungovernable for past leaders; it is the prevailing unity that has earned H.E the President the love and support of Ugandans to keep him in power. What is Hon. Munyagwa talking about? People are working together, intermarrying and seeking leadership in any part of the country. It’s the work of all leaders to speak the language of unity be seen working for harmonious co-existence. Is there anybody in Uganda who speaks the language of togetherness like President Museveni and acts accordingly? You have heard him explain his dairy farm economics; stating how his fellow Banyankore do not need milk from his cows because they have their own while non-cattle keepers would need that milk. So, if he discriminates against them, where will he sell his farm products?
You have all heard the President speak as many dialects as he can muster and elaborated how the closeness of terminologies indicates a common ancestry. Funny enough, even the passion with which he advocates for E.A and, indeed, African Integration, speaks of a man who harbours total disdain for thinking and acting along ethnic lines. Does Hon. Munyagwa think that Ugandans cannot see through his startling contradictions when these issues are placed side by side?
On Government appointments, wherever the President makes appointments, the final decision to confirm such appointments lies with Public Service and/or Parliament, depending on which docket. All Ministers, Commissioners, heads of certain organs like Police, Prisons, Diplomats, etc, are vetted and approved by Parliament. Is Parliament composed of people from one region only? What did Hon. Munyagwa do about it when he was still a people’s representative? Also, looking at the three arms of the state today, in the Executive, after the President himself, the Vice President is from Katwakwi in Teso; the First Deputy Prime Minister is from Busoga, the 2nd Deputy from West Nile while the 3rd Deputy is also from Busoga. Only the Prime Minister is from Bunyoro, yet also going by the name “Nabbanja”. How do we classify her if we go by names as some people do?
The Judiciary is headed by Chief Justice Owiny Dollo from the North; the Speaker of Parliament (Legislature) is from Teso. Police is headed by IGP Ochola. Is he from Western region? These are just examples that Hon. Munyagwa and those who think like him claim to be blind to. Many times, H.E the President makes appointments (especially political ones) based on recommendations by leaders from the different regions or interest groups. Shouldn’t we say that leaders from regions that Mugwanya has in mind have failed to recommend their people for consideration? Attempts to divide Ugandans with such talk will not succeed.
Hearing Hon. Munyagwa airing such allegations on public media made me worry for the future of Africa at large if these are the leaders we are supposed to look up to, to carry on from today’s elders. Are we safe with them in charge of our affairs? There is no way I would stand aside and look as these allegations are left to stand as if there is no Government.
Here, I need to appeal to moderators of media channels to act professionally at all times. Commentaries and debates that aim at injuring our national security, character assassinating personalities and serving to destroy the gains we have made as a country should not be entertained in public media. Individuals that aim to sow seeds of hatred and discord using their networks should be stopped. Radios exist to inform, educate and entertain; let these functions be promoted and upheld at all times. Programmes should be scripted as opposed to participants waking up from nights of heavy partying to go on air and speak anything that crosses their mind.
Yes, there is democracy and human rights for everyone but there is also rule of law and personal responsibility for one’s sayings and actions. Let us use our media space responsibly! By the way, how does the former MP feel when he launches such attacks on the head-of-state but freely goes home and lives a normal life? What does that say about Museveni’s Uganda? The author is the Deputy Presidential Press SecretaryContact: firstname.lastname@example.org. 0776980486/0702980486.<<<<<<<<<<<<<<(The views expressed here belong to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of this publication. Send your opinion, complaint, feedback, and letter to email@example.com or call/text / WhatsApp 0777959024. Anonymous writers must indicate the reason.)