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MOHAMMED NSEREKO DEFENDS M7 UPCOUNTRY TOURS AS OKAY

By Otim Nape

Youthful outspoken Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko says he has no bone to pick with President Yoweri Museveni’s just concluded Wealth Creation tours that have attracted a lot of criticism from fellow opposition politicians.

Nsereko is ordinarily expected to hit out at the president since he fell out with the NRM party and began associating more with the views and practices of the opposition ahead of the 2016 general election where he sought re-election as an independent.

He made the remarks while participating in the NBS TV debate with the indefatigable Col. Shaban Bantariza, who is the Deputy Government Spokesman and Deputy Executive Director of the Government Media Centre headed by the no-holds barred Ofwono Opondo p’Odel.

“The spirit of the activity [Wealth Creation] tour is fine; it’s his foremost job as the president to ensure that the people of Uganda lead better lives but why is President Museveni engaging in partisan politics using taxpayer’s money; money collected from all of us; not just NRM cadres?” wondered Nsereko.

He was speaking in reference to President Museveni’s many endorsements by enthusiastic ruling NRM party supporters across the country during his just concluded Wealth Creation tour as the sole NRM presidential candidate ahead of the 2021 general elections. The president closed the tour in Bundibugyo District on Monday 12th August 2019.

“The president is competing against himself in NRM. Where does it leave people like [Workers MP Sam] Lyomoki who have expressed interest in contesting for the presidency on the NRM ticket?” Nsereko asked.

“How genuine are the players in the Wealth Creation drive, with placards all over the place endorsing President Museveni as the sole NRM candidate?”

These endorsements are akin to similar maneuvers seen in 2014/15 ahead of the 2016 general election. During an NRM Caucus meeting at the National Leadership Institute in Kyankwanzi District, the current State Minister for Investments and Privatization Evelyn Anite, who was then the National Female Youth MP, went on her knees and led a well-choreographed move to have President Museveni endorsed as the sole NRM presidential candidate.

That move eventually led to then Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, who was also the all-powerful NRM Secretary General, to ease himself out of the ruling party and later contest as an Independent Presidential candidate in 2016.

Mbabazi, who carried the banner of the loose and much weakened opposition The Democratic Alliance (TDA) after Uganda’s largest opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) walked out, later also walked away with less than 120,000 votes nationwide as announced by then Electoral Commission Chairman Dr. Badru Kiggundu.

He later cried foul and petitioned the Supreme Court to challenge the results but all the nine Justices led by Chief Justice Bart Magunda Katureebe returned a unanimous verdict that President Yoweri Museveni, son of Kaguta, had been validly re-elected for a record 5th elective term to Uganda’s top job.

According to Nsereko, the president is not doing enough to ensure that Ugandans lead better lives, with him presiding over policies that have, in some instances, instead dehumanized Ugandans.

“Lack of jobs is forcing Ugandans to take huge risks and travel abroad to look for all sorts of jobs. Ideally, this should not be bad since labour is free to move where it’s best rewarded but the government must protect our citizens who went out there to look for jobs,” said Nsereko.

This was in reference to the many cases reported in the media of tens of youthful female Ugandans who have been mistreated abroad or even paid the ultimate price – death – while doing menial jobs, for instance as house maids in the Middle Eastern countries, especially in Oman and Jordan.

However, Nsereko met his match in the NBS Studios in Deputy Government Spokesman Col. Shaban Bantariza who said that the opposition were doing their best to water down the president’s influence ahead of the 2021 general election so as to gain advantage at the ballot.

“In political competition, everyone wants to disadvantage their opponents. It’s a fact that 68% of Uganda’s population live from hand to mouth; so the President does well when he makes efforts to change their livelihoods and economic status,” said Col. Bantariza.

On the matter of President Museveni’s endorsement as the sole NRM presidential candidate for 2021, Col. Bantariza blamed it on the media, saying they chose to highlight just a tiny fraction of the president’s activities.

“It [endorsement] was not the main activity. It’s the media which made it a big issue. However, that is also an expression by the people that they trust President Museveni as the best placed person to implement the wealth creation initiatives,” said Col. Bantariza.

The eloquent retired UPDF Colonel then hinted at what seems like an impossibility to remove the advantages of incumbency from a president who seeks re-election.

“Unless we have a law to stop someone from being president at a certain point in time ahead of the campaigns and later elections, this situation [advantages of incumbency] will remain,” said Col. Bantariza. (For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164756 or email us at mulengera2040@gmail.com).

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