KANUNGU- President Museveni has said he stopped property mogul James Musinguzi Garuga from supporting former FDC party president Kizza Besigye.
Dr Besigye, who has contested thrice against Museveni, has been the President’s strongest rival since 2001 elections.
Mr Garuga, as he is popularly known, was a key sponsor of Besigye’s Reform Agenda which later became FDC after the 2001 elections.
He continued supporting the Opposition and almost single-handedly sustained Reform Agenda and FDC financially especially when Dr Besigye was in exile in South Africa between 2001-2005.
“There is Garuga, but in leadership he had squinted eyes. He went to FDC. And we said you are bringing Besigye, will he manage? We stopped and refused him and said where Uganda is, you can’t destroy it. He changed. There was also a soldier Capt Charles Byaruhanga,” Mr Museveni said. Capt Byaruhanga is Mr Garuga’s business associate and former MP for Kibale in Kamwenge District.
When Sunday Monitor contacted Mr Garuga by telephone on Thursday, he refused to comment on the President’s claims unless the reporter went to him physically.
He was speaking in Kanungu Town Council on Wednesday where he had gone to commission reconstruction of three bridges in the district.
Mr Museveni said government has also secured funds from the African Development Bank to tarmac the Rukungiri-Ishasha-Kihihi-Kanugu road.
Mr Museveni praised Prime Minister Mbabazi who is also Kinkizi West MP, and other players for successful tea growing in Kanungu.
“I want to thank my brother Hon Amama Mbabazi. When I came here sometime back, tea was only in Kayonza. There was no tea in all these areas. I went back and rang him about it, it appears they have done the work because tea is now in all these places,” Mr Museveni said.
However, Mr Museveni was quick to add that Mr Garuga, whose company government is using to promote tea growing in Kanungu, is distributing tea on behalf of the government and shouldn’t therefore deceive the people about it.
“If he deceives you that it’s his tea, ask him that, you want to go back to your past ways? It’s government that has been supplying this tea through Naads,” Mr Museveni emphasised.
Mr Garuga is the Director Kinkizi Development Company which is behind the successful tea growing, processing and marketing in Kigezi sub-region which is comprised of Kabale, Kanungu, Rukungiri and Kisoro districts. He owns Kigezi Highland Tea Factory-Rugyeyo and Kigezi Highland Tea Factory Bwindi and produces tea for local and export market. Mr Museveni said what Mr Garuga did was to construct factories and then government extended electricity lines to the place.
The district chairperson, Ms Josephine Kasya, said they had received 30 million tea plantlets, three million coffee seedlings and Shs300 million for the Youth Livelihood Programme from the government. As a result, she said, tea production has increased from three million to 15 million kilogrammes this year.
Mr Mbabazi praised the President for the development initiatives in the area. “Kanungu is NRM, nothing else. For us we have no problem with Naads as it is talked about elsewhere,” he said.
Last month, Mr Museveni announced that he would deploy soldiers to run Naads because it had failed its work of modernising agriculture.