President Does Not Have to Be ‘Chief Donor’ [editorial]

A close associate of President Museveni once revealed that Uganda’s head of state was not averse to good aice, only that he rarely acknowledged the source.

And so, we can be forgiven for suggesting that Mr Museveni may have been jolted by our editorial of August 27. On that day, in this space, we asked where President Museveni was planning to get money to pay for a reported 10 per cent increase in tuition fees at Makerere University.

The president, we pointed out, routinely makes huge financial pledges without quite stating where the money comes from, in a way that distorts public sector planning and promotes indiscipline. However, according to press reports on Monday, Mr Museveni appears to be overwhelmed by the number of people trying to take aantage of his well-publicised generosity.

Daily Monitor quoted the president as telling churches and mosques in Ibanda not to “burden” him with too many requests, but to let him do what he can. Museveni reportedly said making contributions had become like a debt, yet building places of worship should essentially not be a government function.

Museveni is right in his diagnosis, but a little inaccurate in his prescription. If a president can sponsor a leisure activity that is football and be keen to show the country that it is courtesy of his generosity, why should he fault churches and mosques for trying to take aantage, moreover on an issue to do with God the almighty?

On July 16, we published a story showing how much money the Presidency planned to spend. Among the budgeted items was “fundraising”, with Shs 92.6 billion this financial year.

As long as the president plans to be some kind of chief donor, he should not complain about churches and mosques praying that he sees their open bowl.

Now that he realises how insatiable the requests can be, we hope the president will consider abolishing that donor-budget and allow the money to be integrated into well-prioritised departmental budgets. His major contribution to fundraising events, then, can be to help marshal other citizens to donate to worthy causes.

Source : The Observer

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