President Museveni's efforts to include opposition members in government is about to bear fruit, writes EDRIS KIGGUNDU.
Beatrice Anywar, the Kitgum municipality MP, said yesterday if she were offered a cabinet post in President Museveni's government, she would take it with both hands.
Speaking to The Observer on a wide range of issues, Anywar said a cabinet position would provide her with the platform to serve her people better because she would be closer to the centre of power where resources are allocated.
"In politics, we don't have permanent friends and enemies. Somebody appointing you a minister does not mean that he has taken your brain away," Anywar said candidly as she emphasized that she wanted to go on record.
"The other day we passed through Oyam district to attend Hon Betty Amongi's celebration for being appointed as a minister. I was coming from Kitgum and I saw the whole ground was covered in UPC colours. But speaker after another was clear that all they want is development for their areas. Betty Amongi put it better when she said that if you are heading to Kampala and your vehicle broke down, you can jump in any so long as you reach Kampala," she added.
Amongi, a UPC member and MP for Oyam South, was recently named as minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development. In the eighth and ninth parliaments, Anywar was the Kitgum Woman MP on the FDC ticket. She became popular when in 2008 she led efforts to oppose government's proposal to give away part of Mabira forest to Mehta group for sugarcane growing thus earning the nickname 'Mama Mabira.'
In the run-up to the 2016 elections, she became critical of some officials in FDC, saying she was not happy with the way the party was being run. Still, she surprised many when she decided to nominate former prime minister Amama Mbabazi for the presidency.
Later, with the political tide moving against her in Kitgum, she made a U-turn and backed FDC's flag bearer Dr Kizza Besigye. However, the party had already handed Denis Onekalit its flag in Kitgum municipality, leaving Anywar to stand as independent.
Having defeated Onekalit, Anywar said she is now free to work with any party, including the NRM which she says controls the national resources.
"I am now preoccupied with serving the people. It is the government that controls resources; so, to get these resources, you have to be there. Within a month, Amongi has already negotiated three projects for her people. Here [in cabinet] you talk colleague-to-colleague and there is give and take. This level of understanding is not at the level of an MP. It is at the level of the executive; so, being minister would be okay," she said.
She said if she were to join cabinet, she would ignore public perception because in the end, she is in parliament to get what she can for her people "from whichever source."
"I am no longer bound by ties to any political party. So, I am going to see where there is opportunity for my people. My campaign agents belong to different political parties UPC, FDC, NRM," she said.
Anywar revealed that the president had tried to lure her to NRM for a long time but for the time being she is contented being an independent.
She said: "He came and paid my bills [when I got an accident in 2011] and I was grateful. I have no problem with reaching out to him. He has been talking to me for a long time, trying to lure me. It is his duty. But I refused [to cross to the NRM]. He commended me for fighting the nodding disease."
SERVING ON NRM COMMITTEE
Anywar said she did not negotiate with the NRM to serve as deputy chair on the parliamentary committee on gender, labour and social development. Her name was read out by NRM chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa.
She said she was allocated to the committee by the speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, who superintends over independents.
"Personally, I never negotiated for anything but I have no problem working with NRM. I am an independent MP and I want to be an independent MP. Legally, I don't believe in any party. I can sympathize with an event like when they treat Dr Kizza Besigye badly or I can support a position of the NRM," Anywar said.
"It is the speaker who negotiated for me this position. She thought of me as a senior MP who can occupy it. It does not mean I have joined the NRM."
Anywar admitted that she has unresolved issues with FDC, making it difficult for her to work with the party for the time being. She said there had been several attempts by FDC president Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu to woo her back into the main fold but she had declined.
She said: "I am very relaxed. I am now hearing from my bosses who are my voters. Like the Baganda say: akugoba y'akuwa ekkubo (meaning the one who chases you creates for you a path)."
Source: The Observer.