President Museveni yesterday revealed that his government has reached a breakthrough with his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta, who has accepted to import surplus sugar from Uganda.
The National Resistance Movement (NRM) presidential candidate said Uganda has been having an annual surplus sugar of 220,000 tonnes.
The meeting in Mubende was attended by leaders and flag bearers from Mubende, Kassanda, Kiboga, Kyankwanzi and Mityana districts.
“I want to thank His Excellency Kenyatta. I sent him my people recently asking him to buy our surplus sugar. He has accepted to buy sugar which is in plenty here. Uganda is the only county in East Africa that has surplus sugar. We produce 600,000 tonnes and we only consume 380,000 tonnes leaving a surplus of 220,000 tonnes,” Mr Museveni said.
It is not clear whether how much of the surplus sugar will be bought by Kenya but the President, who is campaigning to secure a sixth elective term, revealed that he is also in talks with Tanzanian President John Magufuli to take some of it.
One of the most recent concerns of the government has been the market for cane for farmers, especially in Busoga Sub-region after the factories in Uganda could not crash all that is being harvested. The factories have been giving priority to our growers with whom they have a memorandum of understanding.
Parliament has been battling the government to find a market for sugar or allow farmers through their associations to export raw cane to Kenya.
Mr Museveni was outlining the contributions of the NRM on the development of Uganda. He added that because of uniting people and building a strong army, the country has been able to attract foreign investors to solve the scarcity of essential commodities.
Mr Museveni said his only concern is finding a market for the plenty of goods and commodities that have been produced by foreign investors who have established about 5,000 factories since 1986.
“There is not enough market here. We may do something to widen the market for example for those in poultry, in the future we may put a policy of buying eggs for all school-going children. That can help to expand the internal market but we need a wider market,” he said.
Mr Museveni said NRM should continue leading the crusade of the East African federation and Africa for a wider market.
He added the protests that ended the nearly three decades rule of Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir was sparked by lack of food even when a neighbouring country like Uganda had surplus food that would have fed them if the market was open.
“But don’t forget that there is an idea of uniting Africa starting with the federation of East Africa. There is no one talking about it. They are just talking about tribes. China has a big market because they are united….. Here in Uganda we should talk about the market. If you don’t talk about that and keep talking about religion and tribes, I pity you,” the President added.
Battle for Buganda
Throughout the campaign, Buganda or central region has been looked at as a possible battleground between incumbent President Museveni and the new challenger, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, of the National Unity Platform (NUP). In some circles, this election is pitting the two against each other and during Mr Museveni’s campaigns in Ankole Sub-region recently, some of the NRM leaders were overheard saying “let us vote reasonably knowing that the block vote from here will fill the gaps from the central region”.
However, NRM vice chairperson for Central Region, Mr Godfrey Kiwanda, yesterday said the party has laid strategies to win 75 per cent of the total votes there. He said the NRM targets at least 3.8 million votes of the about 5.5 million registered voters in the region that includes Kampala.
“We as the people of Buganda agreed long ago that Buganda for Museveni. You have done us a lot of good things. We can’t forget that you have kept our Kabaka (King of Buganda) safe and also a good relationship with the kingdom. We thank you because of the health facilities and the good roads that you have constructed here in Buganda,” Mr Kiwanda, who is also the State minister for Tourism, said.
In the memorandum read by State Minister for Kampala, Ms Benny Namugwanya, leaders in the five districts asked the President to resolve land conflicts that have left many displaced, control the selling of fake inputs to farmers and also improve their health facilities.
Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa warned that the remaining days to elections will be “tough” for the Opposition if they continue to threaten or attack NRM supporters.
“I can assure you that some of those people who attack our supporters will not be able to vote on January 14. The remaining days will be used to identify them one by one whenever they attempt to cause problems. They will be arrested because we have had enough of their troubles,” she said.
Bashir Ssemuyaba, Mityana. In these five years we have seen health facilities just there without medicine and other supplies. For example, in Mityana Hospital, there is no functional X-ray and ultra sound scan machine. I want the next government to put equipment in the hospitals.
Tonny Mukasa, Mityana
The education levels are still low in this area. There are sub-counties in this area that do not have a secondary school. We ask the next government to construct for us a university and more technical institutions. We have been spending a lot of money on agricultural inputs but earn less after harvest. We buy a kilogramme of beans at Shs2,000 for purposes of planting but after harvest, the starting price is Shs700 per kilogramme.
Moses Kiiza, boda boda rider. I did not expect President Museveni to tell us anything apart from that long story of the NRM. What angered me is that we woke up to see that posters of Opposition candidates had been removed from the streets. We need a Uganda where everyone is allowed to freely participate in politics.
Harriet Nanziro-Voter, Mubende. They promised to construct markets for us but we have spent the last four years under the scorching sun and also the rain troubles us a lot. So, where are our markets?
Let the next government start with us because Mubende has been producing a lot but our food crop products lose market after being destroyed by the sunshine and rains due to lack of shelter.