By Steven Kibuuka
Vice President Gilbert Bukenya retained his job in the last cabinet reshuffle, notching six years since he was appointed in 2003. He spoke to The Independents Steven Kibuuka about why he retained his job.
Why do think you have lasted this long as vice president of Uganda?
I think its because of being hard working, devotion to my party NRM 100 percent, and telling the president the truth. My close links with the president and the grassroots have also helped me retain my office for this long. Everything I do, I do it on behalf of the president; I promote him every where I go and I am also competent to handle all the duties of the vice president.
I also have discipline that is why I dont use abusive language even when I am attacked.
There have been media reports exposing you as a woman snatcher most especially from your former employees, have these media reports in any way threatened your image before the president and dont you think you dont have moral authority to be vice president basing on your extra marital controversies?
That is narrow thinking for whoever thinks that I dont have moral authority to be vice president because of media reports and accusations which are all baseless. People need to know that the president does not elect the vice president depending on what the media writes but he uses the formula of performance, devotion to him and NRM and having personal discipline that can promote the party and the country.
I have all these qualities and that is why even if the media writes ten thousand times that Bukenya has so many women he wont drop me. What these reports have done to me is denying me a chance to dine and mix with people in open places because during such times stories are made up, actually its because of that that I decided to construct gyms and sauna’s in all my homes so that I work out privately .
Some people even tried to destroy my image before the Catholic Church publishing stories that I go to shrines but all those plots flopped because I am still acceptable in the church and proud to be a practicing Catholic.
Commentators say you were nominated VP by the Catholic Church and that your stay there is to appease Catholics and their leaders whom you have very close links.
I dont have any links with the Catholic Church or its leadership; I am a practising Catholic and I dont need links to be a vice president. You dont need to have a blog to retain your position because if the link disowns you, then you are finished.
How do you regard the newly appointed cabinet; is it the best the president would produce?
This [cabinet] is a perfect combination which is going to lead us to the next general election with developments that will help us generate more support as the NRM party from the masses. The new cabinet has people whom I think are great performers and this is what the president needs as we move towards the elections in 2011. This does not mean though that the previous cabinet did not have performers but I think these are vote winners.
President Museveni’s popularity has been declining as seen in the previous elections from 75% (1996) to 69% (2001) to 29% in 2006. Given the current state of the country insecurity, fires, child sacrifice, corruption, economic stagnation, and political uncertainty, dont you see the president performing even worse in the next elections?
Actually to me, I think the president is going to win with a slightly bigger margin than the one he got in 2006.This is because in his current term he has turned out to be very developmental to the citizens by emphasizing there need to eliminate poverty and promoting programs like NAADS and prosperity for all that have helped people get out poverty. He also promoted very important programs like UPE and USE which have all turned out to be very successful.
Under President Museveniâ€™s rule the country was able to host a crime free Commonwealth Heads Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2007 and since then we have had an influx of investors who have come to invest in our country.
As NRM partys vice president in charge of Buganda region, why has the party failed to build and use its party structures and instead its the president who is literally running the party?
We have been constrained by funds because we have not yet got a base of funders to finance us. Its now the president, some NRM leaders and MPs who are collecting funds that are used to fund the party and that is little still.
Its not true that the president is running the party alone because even recently he instructed me to mobilise and educate the youth about their role in running the party and taking over leadership and I have stared on that.
There are persistent reports of factions within the NRM party and that you lead one such faction that has mostly Baganda, young MPs from eastern Uganda and Catholics.
I dont have any group I am leading within NRM against others be it in Parliament as some allege or elsewhere. I also dont believe in party factions at all because it weakens the party and you as a person. I know for sure that whoever is dealing in them will perish as a leader and a politician in the shortest time.
Finally, do you have any ambitions of standing as a president of this country when Museveni is still president or even after he lives?
Its the NRM party that will elect the next NRM presidential candidate and even then I will not offer my self for the presidency slot. I will offer myself to serve in other capacities which I will not disclose now.