Opposition up for sale, says Museveni

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KAMPALA. President Museveni has said the death of former Kampala City mayor and DP president John Ssebaana Kizito has left the party and Opposition with weak leaders only focused on “eating” and selling their political souls to the highest bidder with no aim of building the nation.

Mr Museveni, who made a surprise visit to condole with late Ssebaana’s family in a Kampala suburb on Thursday night, arrived at 10.30pm, taking everyone at the vigil by surprise.
There were no signs of the usual flurry of activity to signal the President’s arrival except for a metal detector mounted at the entrance of Ssebaana’s family home in Kansanga, Kampala.
Everybody, including a few journalists, walked into the compound with their gadgets unchecked.

“I am here briefly as one of the witnesses to testify to the good deeds of the late Ssebaana. I am surprised that Mr Mao [DP president general] is trying to tell me what DP and Ssebaana are. I was in DP much earlier than him [Mao] and I regard him as an amateur in this older party,” said Museveni, amid boos from some ardent Uganda Young Democrats, the youth wing of the Democratic Party (DP).
Mr Norbert Mao while introducing President Museveni before inviting him to talk to the mourners, had laboured to brief Mr Museveni about DP’s strengths and what the late Ssebaana stood for in the party.

But once he got hold of the microphone, Mr Museveni downgraded Mr Mao to an amateur in Uganda’s oldest party DP, saying he (Mr Museveni) joined DP much earlier than Mr Mao and he even knew Ssebaana as far back as 1950s; probably before Mr Mao was born.
“Don’t boo me, these are historical facts, I only left it [DP] after seeing political light of my future politics and you can see where I have taken the nation. When I came from the bush, I brought the government and gave it to the likes of Ssebaana and Dr Paul Ssemogerere. And for reasons I did not know, they left me with the government at a junction. I missed Ssebaana for not staying with me,” Mr Museveni said.

Both Dr Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, and Mr Ssebaana served as DP presidents at various times and both also served in Museveni’s Cabinet and later dropped out, with Mr Ssemogerere running against Mr Museveni for the presidency in 1996, and Ssebaana doing similarly in 2006.
Referring to Mr Ssebaana as a tap root, Mr Museveni then likened the Opposition leaders, especially the youth, to leaves which are unstable and are easily swayed and blown about by the wind. He challenged the youth who were the majority at the vigil to emulate Ssebaana’s entrepreneurial skills.

DP stalwart. Democratic Party (DP) members led

DP stalwart. Democratic Party (DP) members led by their president general Norbert Mao (right) display the party symbol as they pay their last respects to the late John Ssebaana Kizito at Namirembe Cathedral in Kampala Friday morning. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA.

“Most of the Opposition politicians here and elsewhere are just ‘eaters’ and political prostitutes who sell themselves to willing buyers. But the late Ssebaana, who I first met in I955 when I was in Primary Three, is different. He alone, in terms of entrepreneurship, cannot be compared to the 40 Kwagalana group [a city traders group led by Mr Godfrey Kirumira],” Mr Museveni said as he glanced at the tent of Kwagalana Club, attracting cheers and prolonged laughter from the same audience.

Mr Museveni said the government had decided to give Mr Ssebaana an official burial because of his love for the country and his nondiscriminatory attitude as he dealt with people, including others from outside his political party.
“My late father Amos [Kaguta] knew Ssebaana before I knew him [Ssebaana] and they were close friends to the extent that when I went to the bush, they remained in touch and Ssebaana used to visit my elderly father even when he was sick. But I did not know that Ssebaana hailed from Luweero District; our liberation headquarters,” Museveni said.

In an unpublished biographical notes, Ssebaana narrated to this reporter how he used to give both moral and financial support to late Amos Kaguta without Mr Museveni’s knowledge.
“I used to visit Mzee Amos and one time President Museveni met me at his hospital deathbed in a certain hospital and was later told by Amos that he [Mr Museveni] asked him the relationship we had,” Ssebaana told this reporter in May this year.

After his 30-minute speech, Mr Museveni went into Ssebaana’s residence and had a closed-door meeting with the family members led by Mr Joseph Kizito, the eldest son, before leaving.
As Mr Museveni was meeting the family members, Mr Michael Mabikke, the former MP of Makindye East, who remained outside was heard telling fellow youth that Mr Mao had surprised them by not telling off President Museveni to drop the much talked about age-limit project now dominating political talk in the country.

“Mr Mao, who we expected as a good DP, should have tipped the President who arrived here unannounced, but he seemed to be praising Mr Museveni, forgetting that this was the time to tell him off about his age-limit intentions, which the late was fighting against until his death,” Mr Mabikke said. Other leaders present included Busiro East MP Medard Ssegona, who heads of burial committee, Makindye West MP Allan Ssewanyana, former Nakaseke South MP Ssempala Mbuga, and DP spokesperson Kenneth Paul Kakande.

Others included Kampala City Council Authority Lord councillor Moses Kataabu, former Kampala District Land Board member John Mary Ssebuwufu, Kampala branch DP chairman Vincent Mayanja, and former and current Makindye Division chairmen Deo Kijjambu and Ali Nganda Mulyanyama respectively.
Ssebaana will be laid to rest today at his ancestral home in Kalule Parish, Luweero District.

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