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Counting 2010’s empty promises

It’s that time of the year when we reflect on the previous year’s achievements and unmet goals in equal measure.

In this article, Michael Mubangizi looks at the empty promises of 2010.

At the start of 2010, information trickled in that the Vice President, Prof Gilbert Bukenya, was planning to quit politics by the end of the year and head into farming.

However, as the year ended, it turned out that this was simply one of those promises politicians make without any intention of fulfilling them. T

he Observer broke the story (See: ‘Bukenya to retire this year’; January 4-6) in which the 61-year-old Vice President was quoted as saying that he wouldn’t be standing for Parliament or any other elective office in his party. That never materialised.

Today, Bukenya is seeking to retain his parliamentary seat in Busiro North and he also contested for the job of NRM Secretary General but lost miserably. Meeting his supporters at his resort in Garuga, off Entebbe road, in the aftermath of the story, Bukenya said he had indeed contemplated quitting politics, but their spontaneous appeals had dissuaded him from the idea.

During the year, Bukenya also reneged on his promise not to contest for the post of NRM Secretary General which he had earlier described as “too small”, involving merely taking minutes.

However, not many were surprised when he went ahead and contested for the same position. He polled 903 votes compared to Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire’s 1,256 votes and the winner Amama Mbabazi’s 5,695 votes.

CBS radio

Another unfulfilled promise came from the presidential Press Secretary, Joseph Tamale Mirundi, over the re-opening of the Buganda Kingdom radio, CBS.

Throughout the year, Mirundi argued that CBS wouldn’t be reopened unless the owners apologized for their role in the September 2009 riots. In January 2010, Cabinet had recommended that CBS management must apologise, relocate its studios from Bulange, withdraw pending court cases against the government and follow the broadcasting standards before the radio could be reopened.

President Museveni repeated this demand in his public utterances about CBS proprietors. But this demand was apparently overtaken by politics when CBS was reopened on October 23, 2010, two days before presidential election nominations!

Election Commission

The unfulfilled promises didn’t come from government alone but the opposition as well. The IPC failed to realise their much hyped threat of boycotting the 2011 elections if the current Electoral Commission wasn’t disbanded.

The move instead alienated them from UPC, one of their coalition partners, which accused them of reneging on their promise of boycotting the election if the EC is not changed.

With one month to the elections, the EC is still unchanged and the opposition are not about to boycott the elections. In fact, even the UPC, which earlier favoured a boycott, ended up with a candidate, Olara Otunnu, in the race.

NRM independents

The latest unfulfilled promise came towards the end of the year from the NRM deputy spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo. Ofwono had warned aspiring candidates who originally belonged to the NRM party but have been nominated as independents to return their party cards.

Quoting the NRM constitution, Opondo also said all aspiring candidates who held leadership roles in the party should resign their roles as the party constitution demands. This was, however, never to be. President Museveni said Opondo’s remarks were made without consulting him and the NRM secretary general.

Kaveera ban

The perennial promise to ban the use of kaveera (polythene bags) continued through 2010. However, by year’s end, it hadn’t been realised. And by the look of things, kaveera is here to stay.

The ban on the use, importation and production of plastic bags was meant to take effect on April 1, 2010.

The day before, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) issued a statement saying the ban was on, following an announcement to that effect by Finance minister, Syda Bbumba, the previous year on June 11.

However, the ban never materialized because of sharp disagreements between ministers Maria Mutagamba (Water and Environment) and Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire (Trade, Industry and Tourism).

Gay bill

The minister of state for Ethics and Integrity, Dr James Nsaba Buturo, and Ndorwa West MP, David Bahati, began the year 2010 vowing that nothing would stop the Anti-Homosexuality Bill from being enacted, not even voices of disapproval from Uganda’s foreign friends.

Not only has the year ended without the bill being passed, it appears it will not be passed by the current Parliament whose term expires in May. It may actually never be passed!

Meeting NRM NEC members during the year, President Museveni had cautioned the bill’s promoters to “go slow”, saying he had come under a lot of pressure from foreign leaders about it. That sealed its fate.

Chogm Ministers

Most ministers implicated in the CHOGM report had shunned appearing before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee. Some, like Vice President Prof Gilbert Bukenya, wanted to appear as a group or to meet the committee in his office.

However, all this changed when President Museveni met the committee at State House Entebbe. Later, all the ministers were fighting to come to the committee to “defend” themselves against the allegations in the Auditor General’s report.

mcmubs@observer.ug

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