By Albert Tumwine
President Yoweri Museveni has used his New Year message to thank the Members of Parliament who recently supported the amendment of the Constitution to among other things remove presidential age limits.
“I salute the 317 MPs who defied intimidation, malignment, and blackmail and opted for a flexible Constitution to deal with destiny issues of Africa. The 317 are like the 28 cadres of Montepuez, 43 fighters who attacked Kabamba, 232 MPs who opened up term limits,” said Mr Museveni.
The President was on Sunday evening speaking from his country home of Rwakitura in Kiruhura district. His address was broadcast on all major TV and radio stations.
Mr Museveni lashed at people who have been saying that the removal of presidential age limits meant that he would be president for life.
“Liars who talk of life presidency of Museveni should be exposed. They're uninformed, or schemers who don't want Uganda and Africa to succeed.”
Mr Museveni advised the MPs that voted for the removal ofage limits from the Constitution to further their knowledge of the NRM ideology of Pan Africanism as well as mobilise Ugandans out of poverty.
“The 317 MPs should deepen their understanding of NRM ideology, get out of careerism and become durable soldiers of African Revolution. They should boldly and persistently mobilize the masses to get out of poverty,” said the President.
On the NRM MPs being harassed, Mr Museveni said that, “For NRM cadres being attacked and maligned, remember Matthew 5:11-12, "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake..." NRM transcended firing squads of (Idi) Amin, extra-judicial killings, etc.”
The False Prophets
The Head of State did not have kind words for religious leaders whom he described as false prophets. He urged them to be humble and follow Jesus’ teachings.
“Religious leaders could do well to remember what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:5, "Blessed are the humble for they shall inherit the earth". Some religious leaders are so full of arrogance,” Mr Museveni said adding: “These false prophets never talk of economic integration or political integration of Africa. On the issue of our identity, I don't even know where they stand.”
The President said that there are elements working with foreigners and trying to impose “pseudo-democracy where power of people is constrained by term limits, age limits, even education qualification”.
Mr Museveni explained the importance of political integration, saying that the idea was discussed by past leaders and then it was left to die. He regretted that the integration did not happen saying most problems could have been avoided or managed.
“Had the East Africa Community effort succeeded, East Africa would be where India is, there would have been no Idi Amin, there would have been no genocide in Rwanda, problems of Burundi would be contained and Somalia issues solved,” said Mr Museveni.
He urged Ugandans to discuss important issues that touch on the survival of Africa instead of focusing on trivial matters.
“To Ugandans, young and old, I propose that we discuss the five strategic goals of Africa seriously: independence, real democracy, economic integration, political integration of Africa and safeguarding our heritage,” said Mr Museveni.
The President also encouraged Ugandans to engage in income generating activities in order to get rid of poverty. He argued that Ugandans are rich but give away their wealth to foreigners by importing things that could be manufactured domestically as well as exporting raw materials with no value added.
“Ugandans are rich. We spend $7b annually on imports of carpets, curtains, furniture, electronics, etc. This means we're giving out wealth and jobs. In 1986, this spending on exports was only $92.28m.
“Every adult Ugandan must be a commercial farmer, owner of a service, owner of artisan unit or factory, a worker. We must get rid of idleness,” said Mr Museveni.
In his conclusion, Mr Museveni challenged the media to be relevant in Africa’s needs since it is the obligation of the media to inform and educate the masses.
“I end by urging media to be relevant in Africa's struggle for survival. They can talk about sports clubs, gambling but also talk about strategic goals of Africa, independence, democracy, economic integration, political integration, preserving African identity.”