Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi said on Wednesday that the arrest of four men over the burning of an amusement park in his Kanungu home district was a result of the police targeting people associated with him.
Deo Walusimbi, recorded the proceedings of the Prime Minister’s Question Time in Parliament and below are excerpts:
Steven Mukitale (Buliisa, NRM): Can we know if government has diverted from developing non-oil areas to concentrate on only oil-rich areas?
PM: The answer is ‘no’.
Jack Wamanga Wamai (Mbale municipality, FDC): I want to find out: how far has the government gone with the issue of bringing back the body of a Ugandan identified as Suzan, who died in China in 2012, for burial according to our culture?
PM: I am sorry, to hear that this matter hasn’t been sorted out yet, but I undertake to follow up and find out what is exactly going on.
Denis Obua (Ajuri, NRM): Is the prime minister aware that since the inception of an act of Parliament in 1990, the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology has been operating without a board?
PM: The prime minister will take keen interest in that issue to find out what is happening, and take appropriate measures.
Christine Abia (Arua Woman, FDC): Last year, government undertook to supply hepatitis C vaccination in Arua district, but there has never been any exercise to this date.
PM: What the Honourable member is saying is accurate and government is fully aware of this disease. The major constraint has been resources. But the good news is that the process of vaccination has started… and its extension, will depend on availability of the resources.
Steven Tashobya (Kajara, NRM): I would like to know what steps government is taking to curb the weevils which destroy coffee leaves and stems?
PM: I thank Honourable Tashobya for that good question, and the good answer is that spraying is the right thing to do. I don’t have the details about the response of the relevant department, but we are putting emphasis on fighting poverty in the countryside by, among other things, growing crops like coffee, and others and whenever you encounter the problem, you can be sure that we will find solutions.
Patrick Oboi (Kumi, FDC): I would like to know from the prime minister: is the government of Uganda interested in the peaceful resolution of the conflict in South Sudan, and why did they shun a delegation from the rebels in South Sudan whose intention was to meet the president for peaceful discussion?
PM: Well, there is no doubt that the government of Uganda encourages and promotes peaceful resolution of conflicts wherever they may be, and the republic of South Sudan and the situation there is not exceptional.
I don’t have the details about the meeting of these comrades from South Sudan.
Betty Nambooze (Mukono municipality, DP) interjects; Are you a rebel to the Anites?
PM: My answer to the interjection by the Honourable Nambooze, is that if Honourable Nambooze is my comrade; how on earth can Evelyn Anite not be my comrade?
So, I am not familiar with the details about their arrival [or] the arrangements they had made. I happened to be in meeting with the president when their arrival was reported, and he did inform the officials that he would be ready to meet them. My expectation is that if they came in without being announced, when they arrived, the president recognised, and actually the message was sent to them. I think they would be ready to meet him.
Kenneth Lubogo (Bulamogi, Independent): I would like to know when will your directive that all people who were evicted from Kyangwari be given their land implemented and they come back to resettle?
PM: That is true, as the honourable member has said, we have given attention to this issue, and most of the people who had been evicted have returned to their land and I will ask the minister responsible as to why 6,000 people have not gone back to their land.
Steven Baka Mugabi (Bukooli North, NRM): Are you aware that Bugiri hospital is in a very sorry state with broken sewerage system, leaking ceilings, and dilapidated buildings? If yes, what is government doing about it? And if not, are you accepting an invitation to go there and see for yourself?
PM: I accept the invitation to Bugiri, and actually I will take it upon myself to visit the hospital.
Roland Mugume (Rukungiri municipality, FDC): Many people have been arrested by the IGP, General [Kale] Kayihura himself in Kihihi sub-county, in Kanungu district, which is actually your constituency. Can you tell this House why these people were arrested because the majority of them are in cells?
PM: Yes, certainly, I am absolutely aware that General Kale Kayihura, the IGP, visited my constituency and people were arrested. The report is that there was a structure that was burnt down; again that is also true.
This was a temporary structure made of timber and grass, and one young man was arrested, and according to police report, he allegedly confessed that he is the one, who burnt it, and they went ahead to arrest, linking personalities in my constituency, and they charged them in court. I did speak to the officer who was in charge on phone.
I asked him, ‘why have you arrested those people?’ and he told me that they had been arrested because this young man who was alleged to have confessed to have burnt the structure, had named them. I asked him if there was any corroborative evidence from anyone else, he didn’t have any. But they went ahead to charge them, and as you must have read in the papers, the young man denied in court that he had told the police that.
It happens that people who were arrested are very closely associated with me; they are very strong supporters of the Movement. They are leaders in their right, and I did say that the police must be very careful in handling its work. I was amazed, because when this structure was burnt, I got reports that it was a bar selling beer and they had taken out the furniture and everything, so the suspicion there, is that it was an inside job. It actually appears to be a frame-up.
MP Medard Sseggona (Busiro East, DP) rises on a point of order amid chants by a section of parliamentarians.
It is a prime minister’s question time; is it in order for some members really to keep interrupting the prime minister when he is giving answers to questions raised in accordance to our rules of procedure?
Speaker: Honourable members; the decorum of the House is our responsibility, and making noises or sounds that are interrupting the House is irresponsible; so, please desist from it.
[Mbabazi regains the floor] this matter went to court, and it is before the chief magistrate of the area, and [he granted] bail to all of them. But before [that], this young man stated in court that he had made [no] such a confession. They had reported that he was an orphan, but his father stood up in court and informed the court that he was the father of the child, and the court decided to grant him bail.
The police, after that, did arrest this young man and his whereabouts are not known. So, I am taking all the necessary steps and measures to make sure that this does not happen again, that the rights of our people are not violated by those who are meant to protect them. So, you will be hearing what will be happening; thank you.
Rose Nyakikongoro (Sheema Woman, NRM): When are you operationalising the national nutrition policy which government has been pledging year in, year out?
PM: Well, the policy is operational; it’s true that although Bushenyi is the food basket of Uganda, it is one of the areas that have registered nutrition deficiency in the country. And it simply means that people don’t have enough knowledge about nutrition.
When I launched the community-based programme in Mukwo, in Kabale district, in the constituency of Honourbale Banyenzaki, that area is another area [with] stuntedness among the young people. And yet as you know, that is where most of the Irish potatoes that are exported are grown. So, the problem is awareness, and we have started rolling out the programme and we are going to cover the whole country. We have full confidence that we shall achieve…, because even the international community is coming in.
Mary Nalubega (Workers representative, Independent): Can the prime minister tell us why workers were not involved in the formulation of the salary commission?
PM: The salary commission is still an idea, and we are in a process of finalising it and I would like to invite the representatives of the workers to present whatever input you think you have [that] will facilitate this process.
Brenda Nabukenya (Luweero Woman, DP) I would like to know when the government is compensating the veterans who were rebels in NRA especially those in Luweero district.
PM: We are not going to pay rebels, and may I take this opportunity to congratulate you Brenda? I had not got an opportunity to congratulate you on your victory. I welcome you to the House once again, and on behalf of the ruling party, I would like to pledge total commitment to cooperate with you in representing your constituency. And of course I welcome Honourable Mutonyi [Rose] on this side, because I had not got an opportunity to welcome her.
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