June 14, 2012 at 1:43 pm #18384
SSEMUJJU NGANDA: KATOMI HOTEL RETREAT UNITED BUGANDA MPS
TUESDAY, 12 JUNE 2012 22:12
WRITTEN BY SSEMUJJU IBRAHIM NGANDA
Until last weekend, I had not danced for nearly seven years.
Horrible things that have struck my country in quick succession have conspired to erode all my happiness. Such things as the killing of protesters, blocking the Kabaka from touring his kingdom and stealing of public resources have made me grow older much earlier.
But at Katomi Kingdom Resort, off Entebbe road, where we (MPs from Buganda) retreated on Thursday for a two-day in-house discussion, the Almighty God momentarily returned both my happiness and dancing skills.
After an exhausting day in which Mengo ministers Apollo Makubuya and Charles Peter Mayiga took us through problems that have bedevilled our motherland Buganda, a cocktail we turned into a dancing party was a perfect end to the day. For politicians who have spent most of their time pointing fingers and insulting one another, it was unbelievable seeing them forming up and taking turns to dance in a circle.
For Trade minister, Amelia Kyambadde, and Fisheries’ Ruth Nankabirwa to dance paka chini with yours truly and DP’s Dr Michael Lulume Bayiga, was truly amazing. I am sure that those interested in history will discover, probably long after we have gone, that dancing at Katomi Kingdom Resort was the most important aspect of this retreat, more than the two-day discussion.
Why? Because of this free interaction between those who should ordinarily be on the same side but who the regime doesn’t want to see uniting. Can you imagine that some NRM MPs felt uncomfortable hosting this retreat at Katomi Kingdom Resort merely because it is owned by Gilbert Bukenya? In fact, Bukenya commented about it.
The money that was used to build this beautiful resort may not have been so clean but it remains most convenient because the owner is our member and was willing to charge us fairly. In the end, more than 50 MPs from Buganda attended, but some definitely missed for the reason I have mentioned above.
I was told MPs from Buganda who belong to Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi’s camp felt uncomfortable camping at Bukenya’s resort. And this retreat, happening shortly after the acrimonious EALA elections, was bound to ruffle some feathers.
The Buganda Caucus Chairman, Godfrey Kiwanda, had promoted candidates from his region in these elections, and in the end, Buganda took nearly half the available slots. Kiwanda was also instrumental in the election of Margaret Nantongo Zziwa as EALA speaker. I am not surprised President Yoweri Museveni called Kiwanda to find out what we were doing at Bukenya’s place.
The only thing Kiwanda revealed about this telephone conversation with his party chairman was a request from him to distribute a paper on patriotism that Museveni presented in 2009. When MPs from Buganda meet to discuss marginalisation of their area, someone must send them a paper on patriotism. This attitude from Museveni and other leaders towards Buganda must stop.
And it is not only a paper that Museveni sent, but also his senior advisor on Buganda issues, Mulindwa Birimumaso. Although it was impolite, we had to ask Birimumaso to leave, and I escorted him out. Even for a seminar, you must wait to be invited. I liked Kyambadde’s submission on available opportunities in the various government departments. Prof Gilbert Bukenya will make a presentation on new opportunities in foreign countries, including a newly discovered tropical apple, next time we meet.
We didn’t retreat to gossip, like Museveni believed or was made to believe. Any caring head of state should have sent us a paper on what he plans for this region and not on patriotism in which he is covering topics like ‘chauvinism.’
Museveni’s paper was an insult, but a good development for those who are still learning him. He has just hosted the Karamoja Parliamentary Group at State House and didn’t preach to them patriotism; why us? Why does the head of state hold us in contempt?
Anyway, the retreat was one step in the right direction.
And this fits in well with the core five-point Buganda programme (ensonga ssemasonga). Working hard to overcome chronic poverty is one of these five points, the others being: Kabakaship, land, federalism and unity. Both Makubuya and Mayiga articulated these points ably.
What we must develop as a caucus is self-belief, the rest will automatically follow. We must not allow blackmailers to derail us. We have a cause and it must be our guiding principle.
The author is Kyadondo East MP.
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