By John V Sserwaniko
Senior Press Secretary to the President, Don Wanyama, has clarified on the circumstances under which his boss missed a ground-breaking ceremony, the Namungoona-based Orthodox Church headquarters had originally organized and slated for last Sunday. Responding to our Saturday story titled “Who messed up Museveni’s Orthodox Church meeting,” Wanyama said the President never drove to Namungoona because the Church leadership expressed preference to host him May next year 2019 when they will be celebrating 100 years of their existence in Uganda. “It’s totally untrue to say that anyone messed up the President’s event because the facts are clear and well known to the Orthodox Church leadership and to us as people in the President’s team,” Wanyama said protesting the contrary impression our earlier reporting could have created in the minds of some readers. This news website has further established that having received the Orthodox Church’s 8th July letter inviting the President, PPS Molly Kamukama (on 25th September) duly wrote to His Grace Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga communicating the President’s acceptance to grace 28th October ceremony in Namungoona. This was meant to be the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the new Orthodox Church Cathedral at Lubya-Namungoona. In her three paragraph letter, Ms Kamukama urged the Church leadership to make the necessary preparations to host the President on the scheduled date. Kamukama’s confirmation letter was authored a month to the date of the ceremony which contradicts what Orthodox Church officials had anonymously implied in our Saturday story. What did they say? That the hosting of the President had been postponed to May 2019 because confirmation hadn’t come early enough to enable sufficient preparation. The latest information available to us indicate that State House had naturally treated the Orthodox Church invite with all the seriousness it deserved because even the protocol department had scheduled and confirmed the President’s presence in Namungoona on the H/E’s itinerary for that same (21st-28th Oct) week. The President was indeed scheduled to be in Lubya-Namungoona at 11am that day 28th October. All this demonstrates how seriously the President’s handlers had taken that engagement. Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga further corroborates the Church’s wish to have the H/E in May 2019 as opposed to 28th October 2018. His confidential correspondence to the President (that we have seen) rationalizes the cancellation as follows: “…Your Excellence we would like to express our sincere apology of inconveniencing your programs by cancelling our invitation to you as the guest of honor on the Ground breaking of our Orthodox Church Cathedral on 28th October this month as earlier communicated in our invitation letter dated 8th July 2018.” The influential cleric adds thus: “We are making 100 years of existence in 2019 Your Excellence. Therefore we found it inconveniencing to host you twice in just a short period of time due to your busy schedule. Therefore we agreed to request you to be the Guest of Honor as we celebrate the 100 years of Orthodoxy in Uganda and also to make the Ground Breaking for the construction of the Cathedral on 5th May 2019. We apologize for the inconvenience caused.” The Orthodox Church Vicar General Fr. Mutaasa says this new arrangement is an opportunity for them to have enough time to organize and host the President better on 5th May net year (2019).