The Member of Parliament for Kyaddondo County East, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, has said the current sugar crisis and the recurring drought situation is a result of poor planning on the part of government.
Speaking during the Capital Gang talk show on Saturday, Ssemujju also criticized President Museveni for always appointing his brother Salim Saleh to head wealth creation programmes which have failed to solve the high levels of poverty in the country.
The talk show that runs every Saturday and hosted by veteran journalist, Oscar Semweya Musoke, also comprises of panelists Ssemuju who is also the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) spokesman and Lydia Wanyoto and NRM Women League Mobiliser among other guests.
Ssemuju, said government made a mistake by killing the country’s only reserve stores that previously tackled issues of disasters.
“As I was growing up, there was a government storage facility in Kyazanga .They handed them over to World Food Programme to store food going to Congo to everywhere. Now they are talking about storage 20 years later. It is the same problem we had with fuel depots in Jinja.Under Idi Amin, these were government reserves. Under President Museveni, they were handed over to Saleh and to business men. Whenever we are in fuel crisis, you hear them say now we need them,” said Semujju, before adding, “I don’t know how this government behaves, it is a crisis manager and I think they celebrate when there is a crisis because people can only judge them they navigate through a crisis that they are good crisis managers.
Semujju said solutions to issues of drought should not always be found at the tail end because ‘you cannot tell the sugar cane to grow in one hour neither can you tell the factories not to carryout routine maintenance’. He said sugar in some upcountry areas has shot to 11,000 Uganda shillings a kilogramme.
However, Ofwono, said government is trying to address the sugar problem through telling Kinyara Sugar Corporation to delay its maintenance plans.
Ofwono also revealed that already MPs had proposed to government to increase taxes on sugar saying it increases diabetes.
He said people should stop criticizing government because there are countries in the region that are doing worse than Uganda in terms of starving citizens like Kenya, South Sudan and Somalia
“It is only NRM MPs who can propose that. Once you can have an NRM MP of Arua Municipality, Col. Ibrahim Abriga, even when he is walking, you can see a problem so why wouldn’t he make such a proposal?, Ssemuju asked, before adding that; “The point is that these guys have really mismanaged agriculture and there are countries that have citizens starving but for you to give me comfort you don’t need to always give reference to countries with bad examples,” Semujju said while referring to Ofwono’s defence that neighboring countries like Kenya were facing similar challenges in agricultural production.
Semujju also criticized the President for always appointing his brother Salim Saleh to spearhead wealth creation initiatives that have often collapsed and caused the tax payer losses in the process.
“Ugandans are very forgetful but a few years ago the President appointed his brother Saleh to the Bonabagagawale programme, what happened is now history. He is making the same mistake appointing him to spearhead the Wealth Creation Programme,” he said.
He said a report during an evaluation by MPs suggests that since Saleh and the military took over the affairs of agriculture, their performance has been below 50 percent.
However, Wanyoto said the UPDF cannot work in the agricultural sector alone but that their mandate is to reinforce and support extension workers by making sure seeds supplied are of good quality and can germinate faster.
She therefore said they cannot be held accountable for all the shortcomings since they are coming in to give support where problems already existed.
On the ongoing by-elections
Gangsters as they are commonly referred to also discussed the just concluded by-elections in Kagoma constituency of Jinja Municipality where the NRM candidate, Moses Walyomu garnered 24,257 votes while his closet rival Alex Brandon Kintu an independent candidate got 18,490 votes while Timothy Batuwa Lusala of FDC managed 8,149 votes respectively. Another independent candidate Mohammed Bidondole collected 1,248 votes.
The Kagoma county seat fell vacant after the Court of Appeal nullified Moses Walyomu’s victory due to bribery issues. He had been challenged by Kintu who until recently has threatened to go back to court arguing that the election process lacked transparency
In his question to particularly the opposition FDC, Musoke the programme host put it to Semujju Nganda the FDC Spokesman on why his party is continuously losing this time round yet previously by elections were known to be won by them.
Semujju says it depends on the areas why FDC cannot win and that Busoga is one area the party finds difficult but was also quick to say the party has just won an election in Aruu north.
In Kagoma the opposition should have been united saying as much as they stretched the NRM, but they also ended up stretching themselves by not front one candidate.
He said although the oppositions candidates got combined votes that would have uprooted the NRM, this would have been more meaningful had they rallied behind one opposition candidate.
Wanyoto said the current by-elections are a creature of court petitions and that incumbents are increasingly retaining their seats.
She added that for the case of Aruu north, that says a lot since the seat holders have been in Parliament for 2-3 years they are able to hold the constituency. At Atleast for the case of Aruu, the incumbent MP won but she is independent and so was the case in Kagoma constituency.
“I was personally in Kagoma, the so-called independent candidate (Kintu-the runner up) there ran all his campaigns materials with President Museveni’s posters and he was in yellow all the way. He was clearly NRM leaning and he comes from the same Sub County with our own candidate Walyomu. So if there was anything, it is us that should have been able to claim that because our people were saying that but these are both NRMs and the whole sub county they split votes but all the same Walyomu won,” Wanyoto
Wanyoto acknowledged that as NRM, there are still internal issues but said the Kagoma vote was won because of the current strategy of empowering leaders at the grassroots to own the campaign.