President Yoweri Museveni yesterday addressed the nation at the opening of the third session of the 8th Parliament, drawing battle lines with monarchs, the media and the political opposition.
Mr Museveni also made his strongest defence so far of the land give-away scheme, (popularly known in some circles as land bonanza), saying he was Ã¢â‚¬Å“proudÃ¢â‚¬Â� of giving away the land and declared, for the first time, unequivocally that he had personally decided to give away some government land.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am so proud that I have given Tata (an Indian company) 50 acres of land so that they can add value to my coffee,Ã¢â‚¬Â� he said.
Mr Museveni, who has been involved in battles with the traditional kingdom of Buganda over a proposed new land law, said he will not allow Ã¢â‚¬Å“traditional chiefsÃ¢â‚¬Â� who failed to protect the sovereignty of Africa from colonial invasion to stand in the way of development.
The President conspicuously avoided use of the respectful titles of King, Kabaka or Omukama. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I supported the restoration of these traditional chiefs but they must know that they had failed to protect the sovereignty of African societies,Ã¢â‚¬Â� he said adding, Ã¢â‚¬Å“While I support the traditional institutions, I cannot accept that they stand in the way of development. It will not happen, it will not happen.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
His attack on the media and particularly Daily Monitor was possibly the strongest of his about three-hour speech. Ã¢â‚¬Å“[A] newspaper has no right to damage our future.
You publish one false story, immediately it is on the Internet and all over the world, you have no right,Ã¢â‚¬Â� he emphasised as he waved a photocopy of an article Daily Monitor published in April 2005 in which the government wanted to give the Dairy Corporation to a Thai investor for a nominal fee of one dollar.