Sunday May 11 2014

Bahati: Museveni sole candidacy not new

By John Tugume

As a member of the coordinating team of the NRM consultative meetings going on across the country, what is the status of the exercise?
The status of this exercise can be better explained through the prism of the objectives we had set ourselves to achieve. The first objective was to explain the achievements and the progress we are making as party under the leadership of President Museveni. The second was to listen to the views and challenges faced by the population; enhance party cohesion and finally to explain to the people of Uganda the important resolutions we made in Kyankwanzi during our annual retreat.
So far for the more than 120 constituencies that we have covered, I can say we are on course to achieving the set objectives.

The party has been accused of using this exercise to bribe the population ahead of the 2016 elections. What is your take?
That is really a laughable accusation. This exercise is not about money but rather the objectives I have outlined. The Shs4 million was meant to facilitate meetings at the sub-county level but not for bribery. NRM cannot bribe the people of Uganda to be voted because we have worked long and hard to earn the support. Through provision for infrastructures, building of schools that now stand at 1,057, health centres and growing the economy. Look at the road network and electricity lines! Those who bribe have no record and merit to show.

In some areas, we have seen party MPs distributing money openly for instance in Iganga and Tororo. Isn’t this bribery?

Those are few isolated cases that can’t be used as yardstick of the performance of this exercise. And as the coordination team, we have always encouraged our members to administer this facilitation in a decent way that does not distract our objectives. But like I said, the exercise is moving on smoothly and successfully.

Some party members claim the promotion of President Museveni sole candidacy is against the constitution of the party, some kind of dictatorship?

This claim is baseless. The NRM constitution allows for both competition and single candidacy as long as party members decide so. This situation is not new in the history of party politics. For example, there were no primaries for sitting US presidents George Bush, Barack Obama. When a party thinks that a particular candidate can offer them maximum advantage at the next general election, the best option is to go for that candidate.

As NRM party, we have no doubt that the candidacy of President Museveni will offer us maximum advantage come 2016. And we are overwhelmed by the support the people across the country are giving to the recommendation of the candidacy of His Excellency the President. It is almost unanimous.

Now that you say the consultative meetings were a success, what next?
We requested every MP to come up with a report which will form part of the comprehensive report to be drafted by the coordination team. We shall arrange a series of meetings to discuss the issues raised in the report and look for possible ways of addressing them.
Actually, if funds and time allow, this kind of activity should be carried out annually because it connects well what happens in government board rooms with the gardens and businesses of our Ugandans.

What do you think are some of the key issues that should be addressed as we move towards 2016?
We have made a lot of progress so far but we have to do more in addressing the issue of energy, provision of safe water to hard-stressed areas and improving household income. We also need to consolidate efforts like the youth livelihood programme that will address the issue of unemployment among the young people in the country.

As the vice chairperson of the NRM caucus, how do you weigh the performance of the Ninth Parliament so far?
The House has done fundamental work. We are doing our role of legislators in terms of providing oversight, budget appropriation, representation and legislation. For instance, important Bills have been passed like the Anti-Money Laundering Bill, higher education students financing, Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and the free zones Bill. These will go along in changing the lives of very many Ugandans for the better.