Thursday February 4 2016

Gen Katumba attacks presidential candidates

Gen Katumba Wamala  joins  other UPDF officers in the

Gen Katumba Wamala joins other UPDF officers in the charity work of cleaning the environment on Tuesday, as part of the activities to mark Tarehe Sita. Photo by Joseph Kato 

By Joseph Kato

Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen Katumba Wamala, has in a rare move, asked presidential candidates to stop “telling lies” about the state of the country’s health institutions.

“Instead of politicians saying nothing has been done, the question should be where did we start from?” he said. “I agree that the health situation is not a 100 per cent good; but the conditions are not very bad,” said Gen Katumba during a Tuesday Tarehe Sita function at Katwe Primary School in Kampala.

The army chief who has recently been accused by the Opposition of making partisan political statements said on Tuesday that all the health facilities he had visited during the army’s Tarehe Sita week, were not in very bad conditions like it has been depicted by some presidential candidates in all their campaigns.

One of the centres he visited was Kitebi Health Centre III where the army conducted a cleanup exercise yesterday.

“We have just been told that Kitebi hospital delivers over 400 babies every month. They rarely register cases of mothers who lose life during deliveries. That is a sign of progress,” he said. He challenged the candidates to give compliments where it is due and propose solutions where necessary.

The health sector became a hot campaign issue when FDC leader Kizza Besigye visited a dilapidated Abim Hospital with media in tow and exposed the squalid conditions patients were in.
Go Forward’s Amama Mbabazi also attempted to visit Kabale District Referral Hospital to check out the state under which it was operating but his efforts were foiled by police which had been deployed to guard the facility.

The Electoral Commission moved to stop the hospital visits by banning candidates’ visits to the health facilities, places of worship, schools and markets.

In December last year, Gen Katumba warned presidential candidates to stop “campaigns of defiance” and intimidation in their campaigns.

“Our appeal to all those seeking elective public offices is to stop this kind of rhetoric. We must desist from making statements that are likely to incite the public into violence.
Whether in Opposition or in government…” Gen Katumba said as he presented a security assessment report ahead of Christmas and New Year festivities and during the campaign season.

He repeated the warning last week on Friday at the launch of the Tarehe Sita celebrations saying the army will not tolerate disturbances by any election loser, whether instigated by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party or the Opposition.

The Constitution bars serving military officers from engaging in partisan politics or uttering political statements. Former coordinator of intelligence services, Gen David Sejusa, was two days ago charged before the General Court Martial for uttering partisan political statements, among other accusations.

Quoting fallen former vice president Dr Samson Kisekka who said Ugandans keep diseases on their doorsteps, Gen Katumba challenged the public to be hygiene conscious. “Many of you throw garbage in trenches and keep rubbish on your door steps.

They rot and cause you diseases. I ask you to keep yourself clean as well as your homes and environment. This will help you avoid disease,” he said.