Prospective buyers can now start having a good look at the presidential jet which will be on the market early next year should Forum for Democratic Change presidential flag bearer Kizza Besigye win the mid-February 2016 poll.
On Tuesday this week, the retired colonel, flanked by former Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Prof Ogenga Latigo, told a sizeable gathering in Agago District he will sell the Gulfstream V jet that cost the taxpayer a whopping Shs88.2b.
The doctor has diagnosed the jet and discovered it is a cell adding no value to the taxpayer’s body. President Museveni, Besigye argues, only uses it as and when he wants to travel abroad, but we have to maintain the machine and its attendant staff.
Besigye spoke with gusto of Tanzania’s new found love, president John Pombe Magufuli, who is living true to his nickname the Bulldozer. His pace and radical approach to corruption and public service inefficiency is simply so un-African.
Magufuli has the plight of ordinary Tanzanians at heart and has hinged his action plan on sorting the mess that the ruling class in politics and business has created to enrich themselves. Besigye’s grand promises, sometimes a bit idealistic and too good to be true, sound like a lyric plucked right from Magufuli’s hymn book.
As though asking himself “What would Magufuli tell these people” Besigye has angled his campaign speak around issues that speak to the everyday plight of a woman who cannot afford Shs5,000 for a decent child birth, a youth combing the streets for a job 10 years after school and a population gripped by the fangs of poverty yet accosted by white collar land grabbers.
And that if it means putting the jet on the market to redirect funds to the poor, he will follow Magufuli’s footsteps.
And you can trust the doctor, who faced another gruelling meet and greet experience with our impassable upcountry roads in Karamoja, hardly a month after a similar experience in Kanungu to get a little cheeky.
We all know that handshake on Saturday last week with President Museveni during the Papal mass took the historic twist of Barrack Obama’s April meeting with Cuba’s Raul Castro, a first in 50 years. And Besigye in his mind took it beyond the proverbial elbow, reading with 4D glasses into Museveni’s body and mind language.
“Yesterday (on Saturday) at Namugongo where we attended a mass [led] by the Pope, Museveni held my hand for the first time in 15 years. It means he has now recognised that this is the man he is going to be handing over to,” Dr Besigye told his supporters during a stopover at Lagile Primary School in Aruu South Constituency.
Ok, we can take that for an ice breaker to a hungry crowd but not miss and mince over the point. Anybody can do a public handshake for the Pope visit’s sake. The true test for the gentlemen is to do a Raul Castro-Obama. Those two men sat in a small convention room in Cuba for a tete-a-tete, sending to the drain a 50-year acrimony for the good of their people.
Uganda’s transition future remains bleak. Can the two men who have since 2001 shaped the political discourse take the handshake beyond Namugongo for Mother Uganda’s sake?
The President of the republic is away. It was a planned visit. It had nothing to do with a lukewarm reception in Teso sub-region. Gen Museveni’s first leg in Katakwi District left his mobilisers with a question or two to answer.
At some point the rally in Usuk County brought to the public eye the backdoor intrigue and wrangling, sometimes premised on differences as trivial as who calls the shots in the region and the pettiness of local political king making.
Museveni had to move in and calm tension displayed for all and sundry to partake of between Education minister Jessica Alupo, freshly wounded politically from a loss in the party primaries, and Eastern Youth MP Peter Ogwang, asking the two to shake hands in public.
In Orungo, he again had to share with the public the behind the scenes reason for the creation of Orungo District, revealing it served the purpose of ending a protracted political contestation between junior Disaster Preparedness minister Musa Ecweru and Defence State minister Jeje Odongo.
Kaberamaido, the hometown of NRM deputy treasurer Kenneth Omona, gave the old man with a hat a pat on the back, a good consolation as he flew out. His return to the region next week is something to watch.
That region in 2006 gave the NRM a bloody nose, dealing candidates who stood on its ticket a blow and giving Besigye a lion’s share of their approval for his bid.
Have the dynamics so fundamentally changed? Why? This week’s rallies and next week’s make for a good reading of the silent writing on the wall.
At a meeting with losers from the NRM party primaries at State House, Mr Museveni looked into his tool box and pulled out his master stroke revolutionary card. Blind to rules of engagement and awake to political expediency, the President gave the disgruntled losers a nod to contest as independents. With strings attached of course.
The condition is that they can fight for all they want but their blood should not in any way affect his bloc vote in their constituencies.
Again we wait to see tomorrow and the days after where this takes the party. Teso sub-region this week proved the inter-wrangling can actually take a toll on the President’s support base.
Ms Mbabazi is back
Jacqueline Mbabazi is back. Now we can tell why the former prime minister this week put his campaign programme to a halt, announcing on Facebook, “Dear friends, I would like to inform you that we will have a slight postponement of the next leg of our campaign tours. This is as a result of my travel to visit my wife and her anticipated return this week.”
And on Thursday, the couple touched down. Jacqueline will remain home as an outpatient. Mbabazi on Friday hit the road, dashing to Pallisa to recover lost time.
The promise to run what he called a marathon campaign, revisiting some areas and checking in to every county in the remaining 79 days holds.
On social media, empathy poured in for Ms Mbabazi’s quick recovery, much in the same way some sections of the public took to reflection on our healthcare system. There are millions who cannot afford an air ticket for specialised treatment, let alone diagnosis.
At his manifesto launch recently, Mbabazi spoke of our healthcare more from the heart than lips, describing it as broken. We can always ask for evidence of a demonstrable effort taken while occupying powerful offices in government for three decades to raise issue about this broken health care.
But what is true is that our health system needs reform as soon as yesterday so that, as happened in the Milton Obote and Idi Amin eras, our leaders find our hospitals decent enough for their own and we ordinary wananchi can always walk to a hospital confident that we can afford the bills and get the finest medical care.
That seemed to be the message from social media commentators this week as the Mbabazis returned.
Prof Venansius Baryamureeba, Maureen Kyalya, Joseph Mabirizi seem to be taking their campaign time, doing everything at their pace.
Dr Abed Bwanika too this week took to a low key campaign after last week’s promise to widen the tax base at Mutukula border post in Rakai District.
That is the gospel read from the books of the presidential candidates, but the MPs’ nomination had its fair share of the limelight.
Norbert Mao is not a registered voter? The Electoral Commission turned the DP president general away, faulting him for not registering to vote in the 2016 poll. Legal minds find the action miles out of touch with the law for a man who has voted and carried a voter’s card for four elections.
Was he deregistered and under what law did he have to renew his status as a voter per the new registration exercise? It is not about Mao. It is about the EC and its processes. Let’s wait for what the courts will say.
Beatrice Anywar, deservedly named ‘Mama Mabira’ for her daredevil efforts to rally the masses to protect the country’s number one natural forest, struggled to rally her party’s leadership to let her hold the flag. She nominated Mbabazi and is paying the price.
At this week’s rally in Kitgum, Anywar looked out of place so much that she had to fight for a podium as supporters booed her. The fatal mistakes politicians make.
FDC president Mugisha Muntu says she shall run as an independent as the party’s official candidate is former Makerere University guild president Denis Onekalit.
Poor Anywar, the grass at the Go Forward field may not have been as greener as it appeared.