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Does Museveni risk losing youth vote?

By Patrick Kagenda

Frank Kagyigyi Tumwebaze, the Minister for the Presidency spoke to The Independent’s Patrick Kagenda about the youth and other wrangles in NRM.

The NRM youth are fighting each other. What is happening?

We should not look at the youth issue from a general angle but look at it from three angles. The youth in school, the youth who have finished school and the youth who did not go to school.

There are quite a number of youth who are doing well; there are youth who are innovative. The other day the President was launching a Youth Centre full of serious innovative youth at Namulanda on Entebbe road.

Of course there are some young people who believe that jumping on bandwagons they do not understand is one way of achieving what they want. Being a youth does not mean being undisciplined. My advice to those youth who are always rioting and quarreling is they should be politicized for social economic survival.

Have you tried to find out who is politicizing them because youth are looked at as a big factor in governance?


The youth are being misled by different groups. Look at the politicians in Kampala – whom do they target when they want to have their protests on the streets for their own selfish agendas? It is the youth in Kisekka market, it is the bodaboda riders. That is why I was cautioning youth to shun bandwagon groups. There are opportunities here one can exploit. There is peace. I can trade in maize from Kamwenge to Kampala. You have money of NAADS which goes to the sub-county. It finances organised groups. You have money of the CDD through the ministry of gender, and there are a lot of affirmative programmes. Through Coffee Development Authority, they give out seeds. The President continues to preach income generation and tell youth there is no way you will become rich if you don’t engage in agriculture, in ICT, in industry, and services and in government jobs.

Isn’t President Museveni fighting a losing battle because some people think he is trying to retain the youth who are breaking away from him?

That’s a misconception. The President meeting these youth is to guide them. He is aware that the selfish politicians are targeting the youth. He is aware that the old population has rejected these politicians, so they are targeting the youth whom they can incite. You need to listen to his lectures all through for the meetings he has been having. He is not really saying I will dish out money to you. Even the money he has been giving out as donations has not been to individuals. It’s been to organised groups, bodabodas, he has supported people in garages. The message he sends out is I am not giving you fish to eat but giving you capacity to build your own means to catch the fish.

Why haven’t other leaders of NRM come in to support him because we are seeing factions of youth who are calling themselves pro-Mbabazi, and pro-Museveni? What is all this about?

You need to separate those political games we are seeing from the issues of the youth. Those so called pro-Mbabazi, pro-Museveni youth issues are not entirely the issues of the Ugandan youth, it’s just a few individual leaders. Some of them are actually not youth but old men. I don’t want to mention names but I doubt some of them are youth. Those are playing their own political games but trying to use the youth cover because they are aware the youth category is big.

What is your appeal to the youth?

I was a youth leader myself. The secret to success a young person can take or explore is to be consistent with your beliefs and pursue them. Don’t accept to be used. We are ministers as young people and we became RDCs as young people because we were consistent in what we were doing.

Secondly, let those who have gone to school invest in research for knowledge and be empowered with information. If you have the information you have power and when you have the power, you can choose rightly.

In the just ended Luwero by election, former vice president Professor Gilbert Bukenya said he is going to change the trend in the NRM, what plans does the NRM have for the professor bearing in mind that he has strong credentials?

I don’t want to talk about Bukenya as an individual; I don’t know what he wants. But I can describe it as the empty hypocrisy I see from many of our NRM leaders. If you disagree with a political party that you joined without any conscription; if you feel may be DP does is better, why don’t you join DP? Why do you want to posture as NRM? This is political immaturity that I have failed to understand. If you disagree with NRM why are you dying to hang to it? It is the same for the so-called rebels who have been battling for their political life in court. They may think they are hurting NRM but NRM is not one human being. It is a group of us. So the question is, if you posture in such a childish manner, why are you there? I have always wondered – people want to appear to be right and to portray the party they belong to as wrong.

How does the party plan to deal with these people?

They are a disgrace. I think the Bukenya’s are taking advantage of the case in court which has not been pronounced, but otherwise if that pronouncement was clear I am sure the party disciplinary committee would have acted. Now, even if you discipline Bukenya, there is a precedent. But let’s go to principles of political leadership. If Bukenya wants to lead this country, he must send a message as a principled leader.

But as a party insider, what plans does the party have for these people?

They will be exposed and they will be defeated, I can tell you they are not the first, you remember the PAFO networks. I want to tell you that of all the people who I have known who went away from NRM, I don’t remember anybody resigning voluntarily from NRM.

Miria Matembe was defeated in Mbarara after she was sacked, she came to disguise as an independent and the people of Mbarara rejected her. So those too will be rejected because the strength of NRM.

Do these people you have termed hypocrites threaten the party bearing the fact that some of them have credentials?

They weaken the party but most importantly they expose themselves. According to the NRM constitution, an MP is the chairman of the NRM constituency conference with about 10 sub-counties. They were voted as NRM and I can assure you the truth will be known in the forthcoming elections. If those individuals are strong as individuals then they will be voted as independents. But if they were voted because of the party on whose platform they stood, they will be voted out.

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