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Byandala: I did not punch journalist

Abraham Byandala

On March 23, ABRAHAM BYANDALA, the minister Without Portfolio, reportedly punched Judith Naluggwa, a Bukedde TV journalist, at the Anti-Corruption court premises. The incident attracted widespread condemnation and there were calls for Byandala to resign.

But speaking to Alex Nsubuga on on CBS radio on Friday, the minister denied that he had assaulted Naluggwa and instead blamed some politicians for his woes. Edris Kiggundu transcribed the CBS interview:

Why did you beat up the journalist?

I did not beat her. You know we have some wars in politics. People are using her to fight these wars.

So what happened?

She claims I beat her. But when we were exiting court, there were many people. In that situation there is no way I could have beaten her. She even claims she has a wound. How can you punch someone and she does not make noise when there are people? She is being used by the politicians.

What is the way forward?

I will try to look for her and we talk.

But there are videos circulating showing that you punched her in the stomach?

These are forged.

Some human rights organisations say you should apologise for what you did.

Apologise for what? It is a tricky thing; that is why I need to find this lady. We need to sit, talk and find a way forward.

Who are these politicians using her?

My political rivals.

Are they in the constituency or national politics?

National politics.

It is your cabinet colleagues fighting you?

Somebody was telling me… I don’t know whether it is true that when she left court to go to police, she was driven in a government vehicle with UC number plates.

UC number plates are driven by people in your office of the president, where your ministry falls. Could someone there be fighting you?

I don’t know. I was also just told that she was driven in a car with UC number plates.

Why would they fight you?

For many reasons. They did not want me to contest in the NRM primaries and I defeated them. They then tried to fight me during the parliamentary race, I defeated them. They gave my rivals money but I also beat them. It is continuous until they win.

Are these ministers or politicians

They are politicians.

Does the president know this?

I don’t know.

Isn’t your life in danger if some of the people you work closely with are fighting you?

That is the nature of our job. These are occupational hazards. You cannot fear to sleep because you fear to dream.

But it seems you are defeating these people. Even the case in court is about to collapse because you said you are going to plead guilty such that you are given a lenient sentence.

When I was in court the other day my lawyer said I am innocent in clear plain English.

But it was reported that you would plead guilty

That is part of the conspiracy by people fighting me.

What is your advice to these people fighting you?

They should follow two of God’s most important teachings. First that they should love their neighbours as they love themselves. Secondly, they should know that there is only one God.

Can’t you talk to them?

I am always open to someone who wants to talk to me. Secondly, for me I forgive those who wrong me.

When ministers are fighting doesn’t this affect government programmes?

It is not ministers only but also other politicians like MPs [who are also fighting me].

How have you found the going as the minister Without Portfolio?

I am in charge of mobilisation. You can see what we did. President Museveni won the election.

Apart from mobilisation what else do you do?

I do a number of things. If a cabinet colleague is not around, I can go and plug the hole.

So now you are reduced to plugging holes.

No. the major thing is mobilisation.

A cabinet report showed that some ministers had done well and others badly.

That is how it is everywhere. Some people excel, others fail. Even at your radio station, others will excel and others fail.

Previously you said some ministers were fighting you. You mentioned John Nasasira (ICT) and Frank Tumwebaze (Presidency). Did you resolve your issues?

When did I say this?

It was reported in the press.

But the press publishes a lot of lies.

So you have a good working relationship with Tumwebaze?

Working well how? You see for me I just go to the ministry to do my work. I no longer drink but I don’t know whether he [Tumwebaze] drinks. I love soccer and I don’t know whether he has interest in football.

ekiggundu@observer.ug

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