Museveni says vote in Buganda sectarian, accepts talks with opponents

A woman casts her vote in Magere, Wakiso District, last Thursday. Mr Museveni says the voting pattern in Buganda, which largely voted Opposition presidential and parliamentary candidates, was based on sectarianism.  PHOTO | ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Hours after the Electoral Commission chairman Simon Byabakama declared him winner of the January 14, 2021 presidential elections, President Museveni delivered a 91-minute televised address from his country-home in Rwakitura. Our reporter, Irene Abalo Otto, transcribed it. In the first installment that we published yesterday, the President declared war on poverty and vouched his new government will provide free education and medical care at all public health facilities. In this second and last installment, Mr Museveni says voting in presidential elections in Buganda was sectarian, but he agrees to dialogue with opponents.

“Then, of course, for us, the mass line, we reject tribalism. We support the integration of East Africa. To build a common market of East Africa and of Africa and even to work for the federation of East Africa because that is where the future is. Following the footsteps of our elders [such as former Tanzanian President] Mzee (Julius) Mwalimu Nyerere, former [Uganda President] Mzee (Milton) Obote, [Kenya’s founding President] Mzee (Jomo) Kenyatta. That is a part of our line.

Now recently when our economy has started growing, we have got surplus sugar, surplus maize, surplus milk, so you can see that we need the East African market. Otherwise, our prosperity will not be sustained.

Faults police

Then also our strictness on criminal liability. In 1983 when a soldier called Zabuloni killed three people in Semuto [in present-day Nakaseka District], he was tried and executed in public. That is how the NRA built a reputation.

But here in the town, the police have been betraying the people. Even during this (recently concluded presidential and parliamentary) election, people reported to police [that] ‘I am being intimidated’. They (police) say that is politics; it is not part of our duty. Any police who says that will be dismissed from the public service.

You are duty-bound to defend the people of Uganda. Nobody has got a right to intimidate a Ugandan, to beat him or to threaten him or her. Even to speak harshly to them, forget about beating. So, the mass line means strict accountability for crime. You commit a crime, you must be answerable strictly like we did in the bush. That is how the National Resistance Army (NRA) built its reputation.


But what is the elite line? The line of the elite. First of all, on sectarianism, they are always like this: wishy-washy. Why do you push tribalism? Why do you push religious sectarianism? How will they help the people? How will they help the country? People who do not know what they are saying or openly sectarian. Either not firm or openly sectarian. That is a betrayal by the elite. Not bothering about … [real issues], instead just public relations (PR).

You attend churches as if you are a priest. You go and sit there, burials, you go there as if you are also dead. They call this politics. Politics is substance. I am showing substance here. I am showing people that I transformed when I was a student. Everything must be substance, not PR. In this area (Rwakitura), there is no more subsistence farming. It is 100 per cent in most of these sub-counties.

Now I want the whole country to move on this. Of course, when this happens, the production will be so much then we shall face the issue of the market. Where do we sell what we produce? One of the answers is East Africa. Then there is delaying, the elite in their confusion, for instance delaying industrialisation. That is what happened. I have seen some of these people who are standing as president recently, (former army commander Maj Gen) Mugisha Muntu. Muntu was in Parliament representing the [UPDF] when they delayed [construction of] Bujagali [hydro-dam] for years and yet Bujagali was very crucial for industrialisation. It is very dangerous to go into leadership when you do not have a coherent vision of what you want to do. I do not have to be in politics if I do not have to solve the people’s problems. If … you are not clear about the disease, then don’t pretend to be a doctor. Because you are the one who is going to kill the patient.

Govt to repossess markets

[For instance], refusing to implement Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE) [and] privatisation of markets, the problem which happened in Kampala [under stewardship of] the late (city mayor John) Ssebana kizito where city council markets were made private for business people to get money from poor market people. That policy, I have rejected it. All the markets in the town must come back to the government. Those who want private [ownership], you go and do your market somewhere else, but not in the government ones. The markets are a nursery for the small people. People who are selling nyanyas (tomatoes). They do not have to pay rent [to] all these parasites.   

This was a big mistake by the elite to privatise markets. For instance, recently during the campaigns one of our cadres called Ssozi of Rubaga (division) told me that in Kampala the women who were selling waragi and bar owners [and] those who are working in bars now don’t even have food in Kampala. I didn’t know this because the other time we distributed food [during lockdown over Covid-19] and I thought the problems was solved. 

MPs useless

But even when we opened [the country], because the bars have not yet opened, the women who were selling waragi before don’t even have food. But why wouldn’t the people who were involved detect this? First of all, you had those Members of Parliament (MPs), many of them from the Opposition. Useless ones. Even if you are in the Opposition, why don’t you identify this and we solve it, that the women do not have food? Immediately I told the Prime Minister [Ruhakana Rugunda] to work with our people, our network, to give food to these women.

NRM Members of Parliament during the party retreat at the National Leadership Institute in Kyankwanzi District on March 17, 2019. The President says he will not tolerate selfish demands of the legislators. PHOTO | FILE

But why would an issue like that be there and the people, the leaders don’t know it [and] don’t bring it up? This type of leadership is not acceptable to me. If you cannot go down and know the problems of the people, you should not be a leader, certainly not on our side and I will not tolerate that leadership anymore.

Voting was sectarian

In some of the voting, the pattern which we saw, very interesting, you can see some of that. Where now instead of people looking to solve the social economic issues of the people, they now bring back sectarianism. Like you saw the voting, for instance, in Buganda. [National Unity Platform or NUP presidential flag bearer Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, who hails from Gomba District in central Uganda, on average garnered 72 per cent of votes cast in Buganda. Similarly, the presidential election results show that the NRM candidate Yoweri Museveni, who is from Kiruhura District, in Ankole, enjoyed landslide wins in western Uganda - Editor].

I have been following what has been going on. There is nothing I don’t know. I know who has been meeting who. Who was giving money to who, I know all that. They were talking of a new Uganda. But actually, they wanted to bring back the old Uganda that failed. That is what they wanted to bring back: The old way of sectarianism.

But the original problem is really with the NRM, that’s why I don’t want to quarrel so much with the opportunists who take advantage of the weaknesses. The original problem is with the NRM people. Why don’t you solve those people’s problems which now are exploited by the opportunists?

Of course, the opportunists are also to blame because they appear not to learn from history. 

Warns neighbouring country

In this last election, there is one country in the region which has been sending their agents to come and meddle in our politics. We are not going to tolerate that. We are not going to tolerate anybody meddling in our politics. But we have been following everything and we have been counteracting them. But those meddlers from the region must stop.

Then there are also the foreigners. Foreigners, the wazungu (whites). I don’t want to be racist, but they are the ones who are mainly involved. It is not the Wahindi (Indians), it’s not the Wachina (Chinese), not the Warabu (Arabs), but the Wazungu who are always trying to give lectures to Africa. Those also come in, saying: Oh, there is going to be insecurity! There is no insecurity here. You have seen it. You have seen the pictures of those who are voting, old women (etc). Now all those opportunists come in because of the weaknesses on our side. Let’s cure the weaknesses on our side and it will be much easier to deal with the opportunists who come in to take us back.

Win without serious effort

However, as you saw, really it is very interesting. It is so interesting. You saw how, without any mobilisation, because there was no serious mobilisation. I was going around talking through the radios like I am doing now, but the people of Uganda, because of the positive things which we have [done], first of all the ideology of emphasising people’s needs rather than their tribes and their religion which has been the ideology of the NRM from 1965, [voted for me].

Because of a strong army, because of the unity of the people, because of peace, because of the final investments which you have seen flooded here [on screen], because of overcoming shortages, making sure that Uganda is now a land of plenty rather than a land of shortages. Because of infrastructure development which everybody in the whole country can see; West Nile, Karamoja, the south-east, the east, the Elgon sub-region.

Because of UPE which is not fully implemented, but nevertheless I think you can see some impact.

Ugandans spontaneously without much mobilisation have rejected the line of sectarianism. You saw the voting; massive. [Our computations based on Electoral Commission data shows that voter turnout for last Thursday’s presidential and parliamentary was 56 per cent, one of the lowest since 1996 – Editor]. The results, these results, you can imagine the spoilt votes. Spoilt votes are almost 400,000. If [you] add all those, it is big and most of those spoilt votes are NRM’s. It’s our people, the farmers. So, the people of Uganda have rejected the politics of sectarianism, of religion, of tribe.

… tribes, I am a very cultural person, I have written a Runyankole dictionary, but do not mix politics with tribes when you are not an enemy of Africa.

Therefore, I congratulate the people of Uganda and in this term, we shall reaffirm the ideology of patriotism and pan-Africanism and reject sectarianism and parochialism.

The phenomenon of huge production will be addressed partly by working with our East African partners on the federation and common market of East Africa. We can intensify our efforts there in this Kisanja (new term).

And some people, like those fellows, foreigners who are saying, ‘Oh, why have you been in politics for a long time?’ Yes, I have been in politics for 60 years because of the aims. If they were on the way to being fulfilled, I would happily retire. But when I see, for instance, total stagnation on the issue of East Africa, very little movement and you see all these so-called political actors, nobody is talking about the issue of East Africa. How will our future be if we do not solve the problem of the market? Are we going to have a Latin America in Africa? Because that is what happened to Latin America. They are there, small countries, no unity. They are all very poor and suffering.

Africa must unite

Neigbouring them, United States, which was like them, these were colonies of the British, but which decided to unite. They are now a very powerful centre of gravity for the whole world. South America is a land of misery. So, the question [to the] so-called political actors is: [Is] Africa going to be a Latin America, a place of just no vision? If all these people wake up and they start producing the way we are encouraging them to wake up. Even the few that have woken up, the 32 per cent that have woken up, already too much sugar, too much maize, too much milk, too much bananas. Okay, there are some other solutions to marketing, you can have some other solutions but one major one is regional integration.

In all these campaigns I have not heard any of the presidential [candidates], whatever you call them, talking about the issue of African integration. They are talking about creating the little that is here which we have created. We struggled, stabilised the country, created some prosperity now, that is what they want to eat.

How about the future? These people are waking up because they are only producing maize. Where do we sell it? Why are you not talking about the unity of Africa? Who will talk about it if the political people do not talk about it?

And the church leaders are giving lectures about everything else. Who is talking about the unity of Africa? You talk about the unity of Africa then I will be sure that I am not needed because people are moving? 

No pay raise for MPs

We are not going to tolerate the mis-budgeting of Parliament. In the past I was polite. I didn’t want to talk about this because many of the people involved were my supporters. So, the new MPs who have come, we must meet [at the National Leadership Institute] Kyankwanzi and agree. I will not tolerate [and] I will not accept this time MPs budgeting for their own increase in salaries. No. This will not happen. In the past I was polite, trying to talk, to advise. At one time, Parliament passed a motion against me, [they] rebuked me. That I had told them to stop being egocentric. But this time, the budget must go for defence because we must have a robust defence. You have seen how it is necessary.

Number two, the roads, fortunately on the roads we are already spending quite a bit. The roads and the railway, electricity, the hospitals, the schools, paying the scientists well, we want to pay our scientists well so that they work for the country. The scientists are about to find, I was quarrelling with [presidential advisor on epidemics, Dr Monica] Musenero, before I came here because they were supposed to start trying the anti-corona medicine. We have a medicine which our people think can successfully treat corona. But they were supposed to start trials on [January] 15 [which they hadn’t]. Now Musenero was telling me that because the Internet was down, they couldn’t start [trials]. Rubbish! If the Internet is not working, drive to where the people are, things are on the computer. Go with the manual. I was not happy with that lack of imagination.

Then budget for the Wealth Fund. Put enough money for the Youth Fund. I don’t want to hear the youth crying that there is no capital. We shall put enough money.

Foreigners shallow-minded

Now these confused fellows of ours, the foreigners who are shallow, they are not serious. They were analysing. There is high turn up, you heard in their BBC [news] and this other Arab channel called Al Jazeera, which is also a problem, apparently. There is high [voter] turn up in Uganda and this high [voter] turn up is likely to favour Bobi Wine. They think youth is just biology. They don’t know that youth is biology, but also ideology. Now the youth have turned up in big numbers. Museveni has got six million votes, Bobi Wine has got three million and something, if all the youth voted for Bobi Wine, then how did Museveni get all these votes? [Museveni polled 5.9 million or 58.6 per cent of the votes while Bobi got 3.5 million or 34.8 per cent, according to EC statistics – Editor]. Shallow! Shallow! Shallow! Not serious, but also indisciplined. Why do you go into people’s affairs? Culture of lies actually.

Bobi not youth

Don’t talk about thinks you don’t know. The majority of the youth support the NRM and the number is going to increase. Yes, Bobi Wine and others are young. Of course, I don’t think somebody of 40 is young. By the age of 40 if you are young then you must be stunted. The youth are 18 [or] 19-year-old, those are the ones we call youth. [According Uganda’s laws, a youth is an individual aged 18-30. However, the EC’s definition of a youth for the purpose of voting is a person aged 18-29. – Editor] You cannot say a middle-aged man, they don’t even have the language. Youth, youth, a man of 40, 38[-years]? [Bobi is 38-years-old – Editor] This is not a youth (Spoke Runyankole). The youth is like maybe 16 to about maybe 25[-year-old person]. Beyond that you are a man.

But, anyway, the youth need capital and we shall get the capital because we have the money. We have the tax money, [except] the money is being mis-budgeted. This will no longer happen. We must ensure the full monetisation of the economy. All the leaders in their respective areas must work very hard to ensure that their area is fully monetised.  (Press team plays video of a model poultry and livestock farmer).

That is Richard Nyakana. From one acre, the man is selling 60 trays of eggs per day. So, he ends up earning Shs216 million in a year. And then from milk, the man is earning from four cows, eight litres per day, then he is earning Shs28 million in a year. And that makes him earn Shs244 million in a year from one acre. This is just Nyakana. When I interacted with them, the Batooro are people who learn very quickly. They are disciplined, they are polite. When they hear something good, they copy it. I talked to them once and they got the concept. By the time I went back, the whole village, I think now I will get a video for the whole village so that you can see it in some other occasions.

Nabakooba fought over land

Free education will be implemented fully. I want free education to be implemented fully. Land evictions will be zero-tolerated. I had one of my supporters, the [Information minister] Honourable [Judith] Nabakooba in Mityana who was fighting for the Bibanja people (squatters) seriously, but some people fought her. I don’t know who was fighting such a hard-working woman. I will find out. But we shall counter them. Like that lady, very hard working, very committed protecting the Bibanja people. Protecting the small people against unfair taxes. So, the petty taxes we are rejecting them. Direct taxes, let’s go for indirect taxes. If somebody is selling muchomo or bananas or gonja, let him [pay] only the licence at the beginning of the year. Let him get some money in his pocket.

I know Ugandans. After a week, he will be in the bar. He will buy a bottle of beer. We shall tax like that. Our daughters are fond of perfumes and so on. Let them sell their small things then they come, buy perfumes. There is a tax on the perfume bottle. This is a smarter way of taxing which does not cripple their small businesses.

Open to dialogue

The important thing is to maintain peace so that any dialogue is peaceful and meaningful. Actually, we have contacts with some of these groups, we can talk. Whatever divisions we have, we shall talk. What we don’t want to hear is violence, intimidation.

Men trouble causers

Any attempt at disruption will be decisively dealt with. I have been monitoring through intelligence plans of I hear this one here, they will do this, they will do this. If anybody tries to disrupt our peace, we shall deal with him decisively. We shall deal with him or her. It is mainly him because the hers are no problem. I have not had a she who is a problem. The [women] are there quiet, but it is the [men]. He X, he B, X, Y, I know them. We shall deal with them decisively. I congratulate everybody that participated in the elections whether NRM or Opposition, I congratulate the Opposition for taking part.

Although most of the times they are telling lies, but it is our job to counter them. But I congratulate them on taking part. The only thing to avoid is violence.

I congratulate the voters! Thank you so much. Thank you for supporting the NRM. Thank you for supporting me. Uganda is unstoppable. I wish you good luck.”