What have you been up to colonel?
At a personal level, I have been running small business enterprises; growing tea, planting trees and looking after my cattle, which is a traditional family occupation. One week I stay in Kampala and another week at home, but keeping abreast with political events in the country.
Recently, former premier Amama Mbabazi came out to announce his intention to contest for presidency in 2016. What do you make of the two Bush War comrades battling for the party’s chairmanship?
Mbabazi is not a Bush War comrade of President Museveni, but he has been a political liberation struggle comrade.
He (Mbabazi) was not in the bush. I did not see him. I am a member of the NRM Historical Leader’s Forum, national vice chairman western region; we historicals deliberated on that matter and issued a statement which appeared in the New Vision of June 26, and for those who had an opportunity to read it, those were views of the historicals.
It will be indiscipline to venture into another position of the party to which I belong, it simply says that all NRM party members should follow procedures and to observe the party roadmap.
Mr Mbabazi says he needs to restore the NRM and return it to its roots – a genuine, accountable and democratic movement. Has the NRM digressed?
Those are his personal political views. Who is saying the party is where it was 10 to 20 years ago, that the party has not improved and who is saying there is no weakness?
My view is that the party has improved and also has some weaknesses. Some weakness was detected in the NRM Secretariat and there was an overhaul. I have no doubt that the new leadership at the secretariat will perform.
He also says people in the NRM are fortune seekers. Is that a fair description?
Originally, NRM is a liberation and revolutionary party, if you join it to be famous and to be rich, then you are a fortune seeker. Every NRM member should examine his actions and take a decision and find an answer, even Mbabazi himself. For me, I joined NRA then to bring good governance and to improve the quality of life to Ugandans. Others are peace, democracy and unity and others.
Some people have come out to criticise the NRM Parliamentary Caucus’ move for Mr Museveni’s sole candidature as stifling democracy within the party. What is your take?
I was not in the caucus and therefore I cannot judge the move and the intention at the time.
In December, President Museveni appointed a relatively young team to the top leadership of the ‘new’ ruling party, weeding out the old generation. What do you think about its timing?
The President picked a new team at the NRM Secretariat, but not a top leadership of the ruling party because he did not remove himself, did not remove vice chairman and chairpersons of the party leagues and other leaders in the country. So the issue was in the secretariat.
The Opposition has once again entered an alliance to counter the NRM force in the 2016 general election. Can this alliance produce results?
I cannot answer this question because my knowledge of the inner working of the alliance is very limited, if not non-existent and therefore I do not know what results the alliance will produce.
If there are excellent results, then my party would have lost. So I think that the results will be minimal, that tells us to work hard as a party and win.
In 2007, you turned down President Museveni’s appointment as State minister for Karamoja. What really happened, and do you regret the move?
I wanted to take a leave from being a minister.
What do you think of the Opposition’s call for electoral reforms?
Reforms are good both for government and the Opposition, the country is improving and changing every day and you must cope.
Finally, do you think the NRM has lived up to the goals you set out to achieve when you went to the bush?
I think it has, but it is 30 years now, the challenges of then and now are quite different.
The most important thing is that every leader I have talked to or I have had an opportunity to be in meeting with, including President Museveni last week, is saying there is a qualitative change and improvement.
About Tom Butime
Col Tom Butime (born 1947) was minister of State for communications, having held that post since January 13, 2005.
After the general election in February 2006, he was named minister of State for Karamoja Affairs, a posting from which he resigned. He was the Member of Parliament for Mwenge North up to 2011.
Previously, Butime was the minister of Internal Affairs from July 6, 1996, to July 2001, and he also served as minister of State for Refugees and Disaster Preparedness during that time.
From 2001 until a Cabinet reshuffle in January 2005, Butime served as minister of State for International Cooperation and served as acting Foreign Minister from March 2004 to January 2005.
He is a trained cinematographer. His hobby is soccer, with Manchester United as his favourite Premier league side. He also enjoys farming.