President Museveni on Monday met the Kyankwanzi NRM district leaders who passed a resolution calling for the lifting of article 102(b) of the Constitution that caps the age for a president at 75.
Ironically, the meeting took place a day after the president had told journalists at Kyankwanzi that the age-limit talk was “diversionary and idle.”
According to sources, Museveni met the leaders alongside a group of squatters from Sunga village, Butemba county, who are up for eviction to give way for a cattle ranching project. Museveni was accompanied to the meeting by wife Janet, his security aides and a few select staff.
Besides the two, no other senior government official or NRM official attended the meeting.
“He [Museveni] told us that he did not have much time since he had other meetings to attend but said he could not leave without meeting us,” said the source.
Ddamulira Kinene, the LCV chairperson for Kyankwanzi made the introductory remarks highlighting the challenges the district faces such as land wrangles, water scarcity and poor roads.
Towards the end of his address he invited Ann Maria Nankabirwa, the Kyankwanzi woman MP to “say something and invite the president.”
Nankabirwa, who is also the NRM district chairperson, did not waste any time and delved quickly into the July 4 resolution, reading it verbatim.
“Your Excellency we still need you to guide this country such that it achieves the economic development we want. No one is better qualified and experienced than you,” Nankabirwa said as people clapped thunderously.
Museveni and Janet too could not contain their excitement as they smiled broadly. According to sources, Nankabirwa drew more laughter from Janet when she asked her to use her “soft power” to ensure that Museveni does not retire after 2021. After Nankabirwa’s remarks, the NRM district executive moved forward to hand Museveni the resolution, which was framed.
“I thank you for this wonderful gift,” Museveni reportedly said as he looked closely at the framed resolution.
He proceeded to shake hands with each of the executive members of the NRM district conference.
“Mwebale [thank you],” he said as he shook their hands. Besides Kinene and Nankabirwa, the meeting was attended by Tumusiime Pentagon, the MP for Butemba and Ssebikaali Joel, the MP for Ntwetwe.
In his brief remarks, the president said the NRM’s central executive committee, which he chairs, will discuss the matter.
“It will be looked at carefully and we shall see how to move forward,” he said as the meeting cheered.
Museveni also promised to hold another meeting with the district leadership next month (September) for more deliberation since he did not have enough time. The Monday meeting, which took place at state lodge in Kyankwanzi, did not come on a silver platter.
Our sources told us that some senior party officials in Kyankwanzi had tried to tell the president to distance himself from the age-limit group for fear that it could derail the main agenda of the retreat. Museveni however ignored them.
“They even tried to block Nankabirwa from accessing the institute,” the source said.
Don Wanyama, the senior presidential press secretary, confirmed the meeting took place in an interview with us yesterday.
“Yes the president met them and told them the party will handle the matter,” Wanyama said, adding that his office will issue a detailed statement soon.
At the main retreat, whose theme was: socio-economic transformation, the president said harmony between civil servants and political leaders would put the country on the right path to economic development.
On July 28, Museveni warned government officials against delaying projects because the delays frustrate potential investors and deny Ugandans employment opportunities.
“When you receive a directive today, you must implement it next day. Government officials should stop delaying decision-making where the economy is concerned,” he said.
A day earlier on July 27, Museveni invited six dairy farmers from Kyankwanzi to speak at the retreat about how their lives have been transformed by the president’s message of hard work.
One of them John Munyaweera, a farmer and primary school teacher, said he collects 500 litres of milk per day from his herd of hybrid and Friesian cows. He also said he rears more than 1000 exotic goats.
“I drive a car better than the ones many of you drive yet I did not buy mine using tax payers money,” Munyaweera said, throwing the ministers into laughter.
ISO TO FIGHT CORRUPTION
On Friday, Museveni announced that the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) will play a major role in the fight against corruption as he engages a high gear in the anti-graft war.
Museveni said unlike other agencies engaged in the corruption fight, ISO will try to detect the corruption before it happens. He said agencies like the office of the auditor general and the inspectorate of government have done commendable work but they have been unearthing cases late after the damage has been done.
Museveni told the retreat that ISO has an elaborate infrastructure that runs from district to the parish level and is therefore better equipped for this fight.
Delivering a paper on July 30, was Dato Sri Idris Jala, the Malaysian transformation minister. He delivered a lecture on how a third world country can move to a middle income country.
Among other things, Jala said having good plans alone is not enough. Governments, he said, should endeavor to implement these plans. Jala said there must be prioritization.
“Government cannot deal with everything at the same time,” he said.
He said budgets must be fashioned to give priority to areas government considers important. On July 31, Prof Yash Tandon, a Ugandan public intellectual based in the United Kingdom, delivered a paper on international diplomacy.
He emphasized that political leaders need to be ideologically well oriented if they are to represent the interests of their country. After Tandon’s presentation, Museveni called upon universities like Makerere University to find space for people of his intellectualism such that they can teach the youth ideology.
On July 31 as the retreat came to a close, Museveni took time off to comment on the rising police brutality that has attracted widespread condemnation.
Addressing journalists, Museveni said the police should use reasonable force in quelling demonstrations. He however blamed some opposition actors like Dr Kizza Besigye for instigating violence.
“Where the police are caught in some issues, it is mainly to do with people like Dr Besigye. There are other opposition leaders; I have not heard them getting involved in these conflicts with the police,” he said citing examples of Cecilia Ogwal and Norbert Mao.