Luweero District, the birthplace of the effort that led President Museveni to power – which some call the ‘political Mecca’ of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) – struggles on nearly 35 years after Mr Museveni took power, and into his 6th successive presidency in the 2021 round of elections.
A section of the population, including many of political actors in Luweero District, claim that the failure by both the local leadership and those of the ‘revolution’ to address the different challenges, is the question that still lingers.
Interestingly, even the vocal participants in the ‘revolution’, like Hajj Abdul Nadduli, who had tried to use his position to influence the decision-making processes, is now seemingly consumed in the smaller battles against the party system he helped to build.
While Luweero has not been devoid of leadership and has had a handful of representation both at Cabinet level and other government departments, several of both the past and present leaders, attest to the fact that the district is possibly among the unlucky in terms of infrastructural development.
One would have thought that the 2021 general election is an opportunity the district leadership has at the table to press the NRM government to have many of the unfulfilled pledges.
But unlike the past election seasons, the 2021 election season is one that has a very divided NRM political team that has opted to throw away the NRM flag and seek leadership as Independents while the young generation politicians holding the NRM flag for the different positions are possibly bent on capturing political offices and not the more than 30-year-old burden for the unfulfilled pledges.
A cross-section of both the former and present leaders have intimated to the Sunday Monitor that, indeed, Luweero is among the districts without a single active leaders’ forum with each of the leaders and political actors acting independently in an area deemed to be the cradle of the NRM revolution.
Dr Wilberforce Kisamba Mugerwa, the pioneer Luweero District chairperson and agricultural economist, who has served government through the different Cabinet portfolios, acknowledges the fact that Luweero has failed to have a collective voice with the leaders both the past and present acting independently.
The former National Planning Authority chairperson says the situation has left Luweero underdeveloped in terms of both the infrastructure and the general welfare of its people.
“We lost out on major intervention programmes including deliberate programmes that targeted the rehabilitation of the former liberation war zone in the early years of the NRM government,”Kisamba says.
Indeed, it would have been the responsibility of the leaders using their respective offices to demand specific projects targeting infrastructural development among other programmes.
“We the leaders failed to use our offices assertively for the benefit of Luweero District. It is unfortunate that Luweero is no longer the original greater district after the decentralisation system that paved way for two independent districts (Nakaseke and Nakasongola). We are now fighting as a small district. The blame should not only target the leaders but the NRM leadership, including the NRM party Chairperson and President of Uganda Gen Museveni,” Kisamba explains.
It is even surprising that revolutionary leaders like Hajj Nadduli is now on the offensive crying foul against a system he has served. Nadduli should have taken advantage of the different offices he held and the closeness he shared with the top NRM leaders to lobby for Luweero.
The lamentations by Hajj Nadduli at a time when the leaders are supposed to be reminding the NRM government on the missed programmes represents the kind of leaders that Luweero has had, Kisamba Mugerwa notes.
At the recent NRM primary elections for the constituency flag bearers, Eng Abraham Byandala (Katikamu North Constituency), Mr Edward Ndaula Ssembatya (Katikamu South Constituency) and the Luweero District Woman MP Ms Lilian Nakate were voted out.
Only Dr John Chrysestom Muyingo retained his seat as flag bearer for Bamunaanika County. The reasons the voters gave hinged on the lack of significant projects that they expected the legislators to have established in Luweero to guarantee their respective re-election.
Several political observers have come out to defend the legislators arguing that the voters’ demands are unrealistic because the legislators are not meant to use their personal resources to build roads among other infrastructure. The political observers claim the voters would target the big shots including, the NRM Chairperson Yoweri Museveni, who has made several pledges that are yet to be fulfilled.
Among the outstanding pledge that is at the heart of the people of Luweero is the construction of the district headquarters promised more than 25 years ago. While the President succeeded in fulfilling the pledge of upgrading Luweero Health Centre IV to hospital status in 2019, the construction of the fruit processing plant for mango and pineapple growers, a war memorial stadium, factories to employ the youth, among others, are yet to be fulfilled.
In 2009, Prof Edward Khidu Makubuya as Member of Parliament for Katikamu South Constituency and Uganda’s Attorney General, mobilised the different district leaders under the Luweero Leadership Forum, an advocacy forum that brought together the different district leaders, professionals and politicians, with a view of creating a collective voice. The major aim was to collectively remind the president of his pledges and working towards an investment arm that could lure investors to Luweero.
Prof Makubuya partly succeeded when he convened more than three meetings that saw the drafting of the forum objective and constitution. Unfortunately, the forum collapsed for lack of commitment. It is reported that Makubuya singlehandedly financed the Luweero Leadership Forum meetings until its collapse when he left Parliament in 2016.
Hajj Abby Walusimbi, the Presidential Advisor on Diaspora Affairs and resident of Luweero District, in an interview was concerned about the desperate state of Luweero, claiming that Luweero has a divided leadership.
“We have many dissenting voices all targeting the NRM government in regard to the many unfulfilled pledges but the leaders need to own up the mess and work on how we can tap into the opportunities,” Mr Walusimbi says.
“I have tried to approach the top NRM leaders in regard to what is happening in Luweero District. The District NRM office is almost deserted. The District NRM Administrative Secretary got problems and deserted the office. The NRM district chairman is standing on Independent ticket for the position of the Katikamu North Constituency, while many of the leaders are acting independently. It is true that we have the different leaders in good government offices but do not speak for Luweero as a district. We need to quickly address the Luweero question as NRM leaders,” Walusimbi adds.
While Luweero lacks a uniting forum for the leaders to possibly present a common agenda for the people of Luweero, Dr Muyingo, the State Minister for Higher Education, believes that government has particular projects that have been established although the people of Luweero still have some unfulfilled pledges.
“We recently commissioned the Bamunanika Technical Institute constructed by government. We have also been mobilising the youth and the general population to take advantage of the different government projects to generate incomes. I believe that it is now the responsibility of every leader and each of the residents,” Muyingo said.
Hajj Nadduli refused to acknowledge the fact that the leaders in Luweero equally share the blame for the current Luweero quagmire.
“Those questions that you want me to answer can be directed to many other leaders, including President Museveni, Gen Saleh among other leaders. They have a stake in Luweero,” Nadduli claimed.
Mr Ronald Ndaula, the Luweero District Council Chairperson admits that Luweero as a district has several unfulfilled challenges but is quick to point out that government has recently upgraded Luweero Health Centre IV to a hospital status.
He explains that the process to delay completion of the District headquarters is a District Council decision coupled with limited funding.
“Our efforts to follow up about the government pledge for the construction of the district offices is yet to bear fruit but we are engaging the different offices,”Ndaula said.
“We cannot rule out the fact that government has constructed several public secondary schools, including many primary schools. We have registered about 50 new classroom blocks constructed across the district in the last three years. What we are possibly lacking are the other tangible projects that were promised by the NRM government. It is my prayer that some of the government pledges that are overdue are realized. It is even surprising that we still have some war veterans that claim that their respective packages promised by government,” he added.
Ms Miriam Kagaiga Mugisha, the Luweero acting Resident District Commissioner (RDC), is optimistic that while government is yet to fulfill some of the pledges for the people of Luweero, the fact that particular pledges have been fulfilled brings hope that many other projects will be fulfilled.
“While it is true that we do not have a particular uniting forum as leaders, the fact that we are in harmony with each other and working for unity of Luweero gives us the courage that Luweero is developing,” Ms Mugisha summed up.
We as leaders failed to use our offices assertively for the benefit of Luweero District. It is unfortunate that Luweero is no longer the original greater district after the decentralisation system that paved way for two independent districts (Nakaseke and Nakasongola). We are now fighting as a small district. The blame should not only target the leaders but the NRM leadership, including the NRM party Chairperson and President of Uganda Gen Museveni