By Justice Prof. G.W. Kanyeihamba
My friend, Dr Abel Rwendeire, was one of my opponents in the Constituent Assembly elections which I won. In the 1996 Parliamentary elections, I did not stand but supported his opponent whom he defeated. Nevertheless, before and after those elections and minor differences, we have remained close friends working together on many projects. Honourable Ahabwe, just before you were due to go for the NRM primary elections this year, Rwendeire sought my advice whether he should seek votes from our constituency to be the NRM torch bearer in Parliament in 2011. I advised him he should not do so on this occasion as I believed he would be defeated. Being wiser than most, he accepted. I would have given you the same advice had you sought it.
The only occasion you and I spoke to one another was at the funeral of the late Can. John Batuma. You recall that at that service, I invited you to accompany me to my village of Hamurwa where there had been burglary and murder at Ikumba Primary School. You and some LC3 leaders had feared to visit the area to comfort and counsel the wananchi. You reluctantly agreed to accompany me. When I welcomed you at the meeting place, Nyakanengo and introduced you to our people, you were happy. I addressed the crowd and invited you to do the same. I then informed you and the crowd that I was going to Ishaka, Bushenyi, to meet the President who was visiting our Kampala International University Western Campus, I would leave you continue to interact with and counsel our people.
Before I left the meeting, you publicly appreciated my remarks to the crowd and invited me to your home area of Bubaare to counsel the people there as I had just done.
However, immediately I left the place, you started belittling me and my contribution to the development of Rubanda and Kabale district. You ridiculed my village modest mabati (iron-sheet) house which was visible to you from the venue and invited the crowd to look at what you called a shack or the so-called house of Kanyeihamba. You added that I had been minister for over 10 years and that’s all I could show.
You bragged that should any of them visit your home area, they would see a modern executive house with a nice road connecting it to the main road, yet you have only been minister for a short time. However, not being a serious politician, you could never think that at the level I reached in public life, I would wish to stand again as an MP. You should have utilised my acquaintance instead of alienating my counsel to you and criticising my modest contribution to the development of our district. At that juncture, the area Gombolola chief could not stand your insult of me anymore. He knew the contribution I had made to the area. Beyond where you were belittling me, stood the Kanyeihamba Youth Hostel I built almost single handedly. President Museveni laid its foundation stone and Eriya Kategaya presided over its opening. Both leaders donated money to the construction of the hostel. The Gombolora chief told you that I had contributed money and materials for the building or renovation of secondary schools and medical dispensaries in Rubanda and was one of the architects of Kabale University which serves Kigezi, Rwanda and other neighbouring states. I am its first and current Chancellor.
Then, you became a wrecker. The Rubanda County University Students’ Association I founded had for long elected and re-elected me as their patron. You clandestinely coerced its members from Rubanda East into electing you the patron. Their departure to your bosom eventually broke up the association.
Before all this, when you first stood as a candidate for Rubanda East, I supported you. I even introduced you to the people of Mpungu Parish as a progressive and developmental candidate. You promised you would construct a road to connect the parish and the neighbouring Ruhonwa Parish. I also promised publicly then that if you broke your promise, I would oppose you for re-election. During your pitiful short representation of Rubanda, I appealed to you to contribute to the fund needed for the renovation of Rubanda Youth Hostel, and to the construction of the road you had pledged to build in our parish. You broke your promises. I kept mine.
As patron of Kanyeihamba Youth Hostel and Chancellor of Kabale University, I have never seen you in either place or heard that you gave a contribution to any of the projects in Rubanda. So I kept my word. I opposed your re-election as our NRM party representative in Parliament. Should you stand again in 2011 elections, I am afraid you will be defeated by an even wider margin than you recently experienced. You recall that in the CA elections, many people and I advised you to stand down as you would be defeated. You refused and you were defeated. I reckon you are a historian by training. Can you not learn from history?
You have been parading a lie that you visited Mpungu parish and people broke your vehicle’s windscreen. This may be true, but you did not disclose the reason why. Before the NRM primaries, you summoned the Church of Uganda clergymen and women to meet you clandestinely. You gave them cement and iron sheets so that they could campaign and vote for you. When you discovered that not many of the church goers in Mpungu had voted for you, you went there and attempted to retrieve the materials you had given them. They chased you with stones, hence the damage to your car. Next time Honourable Ahabwe, be a principled politician. Fulfil your pledges and we may consider voting for you again. However, you must recognise that it is now really an uphill struggle this time.
Prof. G.W. Kanyeihamba is a retired justice of the Supreme Court of Uganda and former Attorney General in President Museveni’s current government. He is now a private legal consultant.