Written by Emmanuel Odongo
[Hajji Hussein Kyanjo MP] The Uganda Witness caught up with one of the most vocal and influential Ugandan MP Hussein Kyanjo (Makindye West- Uganda) of the JEEMA party (Justice Forum)
What’s your opinion on the state of public services?
The leaders that came in power had their self-interested agenda. Instead of developing public services they see the army as the only service that needs development. The hospitals are under funded and mismanaged. Even the president himself refused to be treated in Ugandan hospitals claiming that he doesn’t trust them. I wonder how the president can expect people to have confidence in the health services yet he himself does not have trust in the health service delivery system. The only functioning hospitals are privately owned and they are too expensive for my constituents to afford. Average prices are around 400,000 shillings.
One needs to look at the cabinet chart, mostly Ankole, Toro, Kigezi and Bunyoro areas are represented. Most ministers are from the western region where the president comes from.
The Ministry of Defence is headed by C Kiyonga, security by Amama Mbabazi, Internal affairs by Ruhankana Rugunda and Matia Kasaija, local government by Ottafiire and Hope Mwesige. The Ministry of Finance is headed by Solomon and the Revenue Authority by Ms Kagina all from the western region. The head of the army Nyakayirima is from the western region as well as the head of prisons not to mention the police (Army General Kayihura). In other words Museveni appoints his ministers from Bunyoro to kigezi.
So are you suggesting that poor representation is responsible for the poor state of public services?
Its definitely one of the reasons. The ministers are not appointed on merit but instead along tribal lines to strengthen the president’s grip on power. Their incompetence causes the chaos in public services. Museveni and his cronies all sit in a family ‘lukiiko’ and decide for the whole country. They are not accountable to any one.
Isn’t the vice president among other ministers from Buganda?
Gilbert Bukenya’s services stop in Bulenga his consistency. He is powerless. Other ministers you are referring too are powerless too. They are for show; in fact most of them have no control over their budgets.
You have complained about the high levels of corruption before, has the situation improved?
Absolutely not. Chogm contracts were all siphoned off by the president’s tribe to an extent that even the drivers for the diplomatic cars and cleaners were from one region.
Wavamuno who is a muganda won the bid to provide the cars to transport the diplomats during the commonwealth meeting but he was denied the opportunity. All the cars the government bought have disappeared under unclear circumstances.
President Museveni has said on many occasions that the country has made economic strides under his leadership, what’s your opinion on this?
This government has crippled the economy. They shut down co-operatives claiming they were corrupt. They advised people to grow mulinga, vanilla, among other crops but did not help the locals to access the markets. When the farmers sought their own markets in the neighboring countries to get more for their produce than what the government was paying them, the government intervened and even imprisoned some businessmen allegedly for smuggling. This is of course not consistent with capitalism and the free movement of goods and services. Agriculture has been ignored under this government and even when the farmers try they get frustrated as already explained.
The government shut down Sembule and Greenland bank under very unclear circumstances. Jinja town was vibrant and a progressing town but now most of the factories and the industries that existed were sold or shut down. These days the shops that used to sell high quality commodities are selling bananas only. Bus Park (Bus za Baganda) was sold amid claims that it would be replaced by a modern development. Instead it was replaced with shops which are now owned by the president’s kinsmen.
Elaborate a bit more on this?
Well, this is Museveni’s interpretation of leadership. His government can do anything they want. They claimed that Greenland bank owed 10 billion shillings but yet the same government lent an individual (Hassan Basajjabalaba) double that amount to rescue his business. One has to remember that Basajjabalaba has never paid back that money..remember he is the treasurer for the president’s party. This government is shameless and irresponsible.
How is the situation as far as freedom of speech is concerned?
The government and Museveni himself have threatened on many occasions to imprison those that speak out including me but we refuse to be intimidated. Uganda belongs to its citizens not individuals. Museveni wrote to the King of Buganda (Kabaka) insulting him over his refusal to back the proposed land bill. How does he expect us to keep quiet when he is doing such things to our cultural leaders? Insults to our Kabaka are unacceptable. Museveni has complained a lot about CBS radio that the opposition uses it to insult him and frustrate his plans but we use every radio in Uganda to reach out to our voters and that includes Radio Uganda – the national radio. So i wonder why he singles out CBS for criticism. I would like to emphasize this, we do not insult the president but we as oppostion politicians see things differently and offer different solutions to our problems in the country. In a democracy we are entitled to that right.
What’s your opinion on the proposed land bill?
Museveni has a hidden agenda. His claiming to be changing the law to protect the landless but this is not true. His generals and cronies are responsible for the land grabbings with impunity. The landless concept is his creation. Some of the generals responsible are Major Mugenyi who wants to illegally acquire Kisekka Market. I challenge Musevni to explain to us how these generals have acquired big chunks of land in Buganda. Among the causalities are Shimoni Demonstration School which was illegally bulldozed and then land sold to a private hotelier under unclear circumstances. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) land opposite the parliament was sold as well. These are some of the criminal activities that are going on.
As MP’s have you been consulted on the tabled land bill? Or facilitated to consult your consistencies?
Isn’t that dictatorial?
Well the president said he is still working on the government level. I think after that he will command us to follow his wishes.
Why do you suggest that Buganda should become independent?
Buganda has not gained anything from being part of the republic of Uganda. We are being exploited by the NRM government. We pay taxes but we do not have anything to show for it. With the little left I think we can manage our resources better and provide for our citizens. Our off-springs should not have to suffer the way we have. Rwanda is now developing at a higher rate than Uganda yet those responsible for its growth were educated in Uganda and even used Ugandan guns to capture power.
How do you compare this government to those past regimes?
During those past regimes we had a national airline, ships, well funded hospitals and good roads. Generally we had a better organized transport network. Many of us still remember the Uganda Transport Company (UTC). This was sold off and the money was not accounted for. Makerere University and other government schools were well funded. Yet higher education was free and I am one of those that benefited from that quality education.
Idi Amin was very nationalist and those that call him a thug have done nothing for us. Most of the schools were built under Obote. I want to stress that its governments with its citizens not leaders personally that build the nation. So Obote did not personally build these institutions but he provided the right leadership that was necessary for this to happen. When Amin came into power he implemented what Obote had started or failed to finish off.
Your message to the young
Be nationalist and cherish your cultures. You are the leaders of tomorrow soon it will be your responsibility to lead our people.
Museveni’s regime has collected more tax than any other regime but done the least in developing Uganda. The NRM government has also borrowed more than all the past regimes combined. But has nothing to show for this money. Lastly, insulting our Kabaka and the continued grabbing of our land is unacceptable. If we get instabilities in Uganda, it’s Museveni and his government who will be held responsible for having started it all.