Bobi Wine lays out his agenda for Uganda

Tuesday August 27 2019

Ugandan musician turned politician, Robert

Ugandan musician turned politician, Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi Wine 

The 2021 election will likely be fought and won on money basis due to Uganda’s commercialised politics. Do you or the Opposition have the financial clout to out-spend or win against President Museveni?

Well, I think that question goes to us as a team and as a nation on how we are prepared. I have said it time and again that it is not about me. We are prepared because we are sensitising the nation and we continue to do so. We have identified like-minded leaders to carry this through. This is going to be a different election because it is a revolutionary one.

But I don’t believe those with money are the ones who will win. President Museveni has been giving the ghetto youth money to woo them onto his side, but afterwards they thank us. We shall win because he (Mr Museveni) will [indirectly] fund our campaigns should he dish out cash.

Four-time presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, knows as much about how Ugandan campaigns run. He has counselled that an election alone cannot take power from President Museveni. You argue that if victory is overwhelming, the vote cannot be stolen. Do you have this overwhelming support?

We all agree that the nation is united against dictatorship. I am a firm believer in democracy and people power over gun power. I know with an overwhelming vote, we can take over power. We shall replicate the precedent we set during the Bugiri Municipality election, Arua Municipality, Rukungiri and Kyadondo East by-elections. We must win by knock-out.

 

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There is criticism that Uganda’s government is too big; too many ministers and MPs. If you were to run and win the next presidential election, how would you re-organise the government to ensure more frugal spending of public resources while maximising service delivery?

One of our core principles as People Power (movement) is having a lean and effective government. President Museveni is widening the government and its administrative costs because his ambitions have since changed; his government is no longer bent on service delivery, but patronage. When you cut the number MPs and ministers (there are currently 458 legislators and 81 ministers – Editor), there are savings [to be] made which can go into service delivery.

We have abnormally many ministers and I believe in a smaller Parliament who are monitored by the people who have put them into those places. We shall move the civil service from working for the president to serving the people.

 

Uganda currently has too many security and intelligence outfits, resulting in rivalry and wasteful duplication [of responsibilities]. What are your plans to reform the sector to the 21st century security challenges?

In the past, we had fewer security apparatus and a vigilant population unlike now when we have all these security agencies and yet there is so much criminality. The more people own their country, the more secure the state is; so, you will not need all these other branches of law enforcers. Under President Museveni, police and army are ceremonial security agencies and this has brought a lot of squabbles within the agencies.

I will empower police to enforce law and order, revive its Criminal Investigations Department and the Special Branch for the serious investigations, pay them well and make sure they deliver. The UPDF will handle the national security and guarding of the boundaries.

You are a political novice and civilian. How will you handle security forces?

[Former two-time President] Milton Obote was a civilian like myself, didn’t the army salute him? He ruled twice. That means it is possible. We have been approached by some army officers and the police, telling us that they are not happy with the [Museveni] regime. They all work on orders and that is why you have been hearing them fronting the saying [that they are acting on] ‘orders from above’.

President Museveni has said he will go nowhere and asked those who want him to leave power where he would go. Would you be willing to grant him immunity so that he doesn’t fear prosecution for the wrongs his government could have committed?

We are short of ex-presidents who advise current presidents. We want to set a new precedent as a generation where we shall have a former president giving wise counsel to a current one. We will give President Museveni amnesty and always consult him on issues of governance. That is why we are preferring peaceful means to have a transition of power.

International geo-politics is crucial for a President. Looking at West-East divide, how would a Uganda under your presidency position itself to gain from all sides?

We are united not only by interest, but also by values which we all stand for. We are all members of the global village and we should be able to connect by virtue of out different values.

The leaders as representatives must respect each other’s values and way of doing things that exude humanity and empathy. With these values, we shall achieve a common understanding and respect.

What should bind us together, regardless of our differences, are global values such as humanity, democracy, respect for the rule of law and upholding human rights.

You were widely criticised and your knowledge of national economy questioned when you failed to articulate fiscal policy during an interview with NTV. Do you feel prepared to be Uganda’s President?

In many cases I will be wrong on articulation. I do it sometimes deliberately and at times involuntarily. I have always and I will repeat, I didn’t present myself as any kind of [an academic] professor or the most experienced politician in the world. I am just one of the millions of Ugandans who have been served unfairly and oppressed.

I don’t work alone, Uganda is endowed with many talented people who can be put to use and help this country to produce the best ever government.

Uganda’s debt currently stands at Shs42 trillion. Much of this money has been spent on infrastructure development. If you were to stand and win an election, how would you tackle this problem of debt?

As a country, we do not have the financial muscle and sometimes resort to debts. We will make sure that every money we borrow goes to a sector that is productive enough such as agriculture so that at the end of the day, we are able to service it (debt). We shall re-channel some of the money to developing more tourism centres and agriculture to widen the country’s revenue base and close the debt gap.

Uganda’s commercially-viable oil deposits are projected to be exhausted within 25 years once exploitation starts. Extraction has delayed in part due to President Museveni’s insistence on a refinery so that the country earns from processed oil and by-product. What is your plan?

I totally agree with President Museveni on this because we earn more when we are exporting a finished product than just crude oil. I wish all this is true and the plan goes as it is discussed in the public eye.

Other economists, among them the former Finance minister, Dr Ezra Suruma, propose that the petro-dollars should be used to create a sovereign fund for government programmes that benefit all citizens. Do you agree?

Yes, that again is another good plan for the people. The priority for oil proceeds should first be given to the people; the common person. Lest we stand a risk of working for other countries at the expense of our own. The oil dollar should be used to equip the majority population –the youth - with employable skills and develop the industrial sector to employ these youth. But most importantly, we shall use [petro-dollars] to also develop our mining sector.

The government currently gives elderly persons about Shs25,000 monthly stipend. This social welfare is largely donor-financed. What is your plan for senior citizens?

These people deserve a dignified living in the evening [of their lives] because we know they have served this country and are now resting. This money can be stepped up to at least Shs100,000 which still is not enough.

 

From which budget are hoping to get this money?

In the long run, we, as a country, should not run on donations. We need to cut unreasonable expenses and get more money for the elderly.

President Museveni’s government has multiple times tried to modernise agriculture, but with less-than-satisfactory outcome. What are you going to do differently for this key sector?

President Museveni is using the wrong people to empower farmers. We plans to revive cooperatives and have farmers sensitised on climate and soils they have so that they grow the right crops to maximise productivity. As government, we shall have a special plan for bumper harvests where we buy from farmers, store the crops and sell them at minimum price to the population in times of scarcity. This is a plan to ensure constant food security in the country.

The Opposition criticises the President for allegedly collapsing state institutions and using the surviving ones as his walking stick. Article 99 of the Constitution vests all executive authority in the President, making him or her an imperial leader. How will you avoid being captured and corrupted by such power?

As People Power, we have what we call ‘servant leadership’. The law is being abused. We think the powers of the president should be limited. The institutions should act independently from the presidency. The work of appointing and recommending directors and leaders in these institution should be left to the Public Service Commission and Judicial Service Commission.

According to the Constitution, voters can only recall an MP when the ‘Movement System’ is in operation. It is unlikely Uganda will revert to the system. Lawmakers also determine their own emoluments. Aren’t these privileges unjustified?

All these should change. The people should have the power to recall their MP who is not performing; that is what we mean by people power. We are going to enforce Article 1 of the Constitution. [It provides: All power belongs to the people who shall exercise their sovereignty in accordance with this Constitution – Editor] We shall change laws that do not make sense. It is very unfair for those who decide the fate of our people to be the very people who determine their rewards.

A family is the basic unit of society and state foundation. The pressures of survival have diluted parenting, which in many families has been delegated to house helps. As such, the younger generation lacks core values and have a sense of entitlement. What should the country do to fix the problem?

This is partly a result of our broken education system. Yes, the parents have a big part to play but so do the schools. Our (education) curriculum has to completely change so that it is about culture and skills.

 

Uganda’s biggest problem is inequality, worsened by sectarianism undertones in politics which could potentially result in a genocide or internal conflict. How are you preparing to reverse this ugly trend?

[By my government providing] equal opportunity. This should be regardless of tribe, religion or origin. We shall have a Uganda that offers equal opportunities. That equality will be in resource allocation, jobs and all that. If we do not solve this problem, we shall not be any different from President Museveni.

Ugandan artistes and authors are grappling with problems of low income from their intellectual ingenuity due to blatant infringement of their works. How will you help them earn from their sweat?

The copyright law exists, but who enforces it? These are the things we shall capitalise on. But also the entertainment industry has been deliberately fought in this country. It is only in Uganda where an entertainer is stopped from singing about the wrong things happening in the country.

What in your view is Uganda’s biggest problem requiring the most urgent fix?

Leadership. It has brought about another major problem; corruption.

Let’s speak about Uganda’s biggest comparative advantage.

We have a big advantage in human resource provided by the youth who are 78 per cent of the population. If we put all their energies and vigour to work, not even the sky is the limit. Our country also has the best climate and soils for agriculture.

One of Uganda’s Achilles Heels is being land-locked. When post-election violence erupted in Kenya in 2007, Uganda suffered immediately. What options do have in mind to insulate Uganda in the future?

If we capitalise on more exports than imports. [Balance of payment deficits put] us at the mercy of other countries. We have the capacity of being a food basket for other countries when we emphasise production. We cannot change fate. I don’t believe in leaders who quarrel to the extent of closing their countries’ borders.

Sharing borders presents health risks in case of epidemics. How will you secure the borders without infringing on free movement of people and goods?

We need each other, but the trick here is to improve vigilance at the borders when such out-breaks happen. When you have a youthful population fully employed and skillful, informal trade will reduce because they are the very ones engaged in smuggling.

What is your position on death penalty?

What does the Constitution say? I believe in the Constitution and I would follow it ardently without changing its contents on this matter.

You are facing seven charges. If you are convicted on one of them and sentenced to two years in prison, you will be ineligible to stand for President. What are your options?

Stop making it look like it is something about me. When I am convicted, I am convinced that there are many Kyagulanyis in this country that will come up to fight for the same cause. So the country is more united than the government is for the next change.

Countries such as Rwanda, Germany and Israel have immortalised their troubling history by establishing museums. Would you, for instance, support a proposal for Uganda to build an Idi Amin museum?

When such a museum is put in place, it will help the leaders to trace our origin and check their way of service. It will even help remind some who keep forgetting. This is something we need urgently.

One of Uganda’s intractable problems is land conflicts. What reforms would stop the menace?

Our land acquisition and valuation law is so outdated. We need to revisit it to bring more provisions.

Compensation should be determined in such a way that people are happy with what they get out of their property.