In a rather controversial move, President Museveni has donated 260 heifers to leaders in Busoga sub region amidst the ongoing age limit consultations.
The targeted leaders to partake of Museveni’s gifts include; Members of Parliament in Busoga, District Chairpersons and Resident District Commissioners.
Handing over the heifers this week, the Minister for Presidency, also Luuka woman MP, Esther Mbayo Mbulakubuza dismissed claims that the donation is aimed at enticing leaders to support the amendment of the constitution.
During the NRM caucus meeting at parliament this month, Museveni asked legislators to carry out age limit consultations with a section of district leaders instead of carrying out general consultations. Several critics see this as a timely gift for the process.
“Amending the constitution does not stop government projects from going on. This is a government project and is supposed to continue, the government has not ceased it has to go on,” Ms Mbayo said.
She also insisted that the 260 heifers were pledged by President Museveni several months before this age limit debate.
“The animals are to fight poverty in the impoverished Busoga region,” she adds.
However, the targeted beneficiaries leave so many questions lingering. For instance, one of the beneficiaries in Kamuli is the speaker of Parliament and Kamuli woman MP, Rebecca Kadaga and senior government officials.
But Mbayo is quick to mention that the beneficiaries are supposed to act as role models in the fight against poverty in their respective regions.
“These leaders will act as models for their people, you can not explain to a peasant down in the constituency the benefits of something unless you have a model project. So these leaders will be using the heifers to elaborate to the constituents and subjects,” Ms Mbayo said.
“I want to sound a warning to those who intend to sell the cows, for as long as I am still minister of presidency, I will follow up and will not allow this,” she said.
Each member will receive at least four cows.
Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party deputy spokesperson and former Jinja East legislator Paul Mwiru says the rationale of distributing the heifers needs to be made clear.
“We need to know the rationale of choosing the beneficiaries to this gift. If it’s a program coming from tax payers’ money, which I think it is, then whoever is receiving the heifers should have been prepared to be in position to feed, keep and rare the animals, “he said.
However, Ms Mbayo said that beneficiaries of the gifts were already prepared in advance to construct shades and plant grass.
On whether the project is selective to only NRM leaders, Ms Mbayo said that the only opposition MP Busiga sub region has is Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri County) and he is among the beneficiaries.
“Development is not for a single party, unfortunately, the only MP who is opposition from Busoga is Katuntu (Abdu) and he is included in the project,” Ms Mbayo said.
When contacted, Mr Katuntu said he was not aware of the pledge as he did not attend the meeting in which President Museveni made the same.
“I have been busy battling in court as you can see, I am not yet aware of the pledge and neither did I attend the meeting where Museveni made plegde,” he said.
He however said he will talk to Ms Mbayo and find out more before making a comment on record.
On June 10, 2017 after heroes’ day celebrations, Museveni summoned Busoga leaders to Kityerera state lodge where he tasked them to spear head the fight against poverty in the region.
In the same meeting he pledged to improve wealth creation in Busoga by using the leaders as model for their people.
Other gifts by president Museveni
In march, president Museveni handed over 40 tractors to support 600 farmers in Ankole region.
Museveni gave a brand new tractor to the Kyabazinga of Busoga, William Wilberfoce Kadhumbula Nadiope at the beginning of June, Other tractors were given out to constituencies in Katakwi, Insigiro and Bukedea districts aimed at promoting commercialized farming.