Gender Minister Frank Tumwebaze has challenged President Museveni’s opponents to constructively criticise the ruling party’s performance record instead of making “noise” about the Ugandan leader’s long stay in power.
“This constant screeching noise of NRM opponents about 35 years in power I hear, can not be an issue to define their alternate agenda,” said Tumwebaze on Friday evening.
“You can’t fault NRM for winning the people’s mandate over a long time. May be you can be envious about it. Assess NRM and it’s leader on the basis of its record of performance not longevity only.”
Critics say Museveni should step down for the young generation to take power.
They argue that he has lost the stamina needed to crack down on corruption and set the country on a new path to socio-economic transformation.
However, Tumwebaze said longevity too has its merits.
“The question is: 35 years of doing what ? Rebuilding every sector ( informal and formal) of life that had collapsed. Resuscitating the economy back to normal macro-economic trends by squeezing inflation to a single digit and maintaining it at that, creating a diversified export base of the country, building and expanding the economy by prioritising physical and tech infrastructure ( roads, telecoms, broadband, water, electricity), developing human capital through universal educational programmes for all, building a bigger regional market, to mention but a few,” said Tumwebaze.
Museveni has been in power since 1986, after toppling the regime of Milton Obote and the Okello juntas.
He was expected to stand down after clocking 75 years.
However, the Constitution was amended to allow the incumbent seek another term in office.
Tumwebaze challenged NRM’s rivals to go beyond “deceptive rhetoric” and base their contests on superiority of policy instruments.
“Falsely labelling NRM a dictatorship is not proof of offering alternative leadership. If NRM has prioritised physical and tech infrastructure in its polcy documents as key enablers of socio-economic growth, what is their counter alternative allegedly superior to this beyond accusing Museveni of being there for long?” Tumwebaze wondered.
“The base created by NRM can’t be disputed. And it’s bse of the good policy instruments we design. Remember bad policies stifle growth while good ones stimulate it. Yes, managing growth is always not easy even in large scale business operations,” said the former Information Minister.
“The logical debate now, that contending leaders must answer is: How as a country do we leverage this base and growth created by the 35 years of NRM to grow faster?. For example, how do we improve government efficiency ( both operative and allocative efficiencies) in the delivery of public services? The gains we are making in public investments in ICTs for example will bring about this efficiency.”
The remarks come at a time of heated presidential campaigns.
11 candidates are campaigning across the country for the top politics post in the land.
Rooting for Museveni’s re-election, Tumwebaze said the inclusion of social protection programs in other big flagship projects like infrastructure development is a deliberate policy strategy to bring about inclusive development.
“In my view this should be the line of debate. A debate that provides answers not anger. A debate that acknowledges our journey and seeks to build on it, etc. I appeal to the media and all critical thinkers to ignore side-show antics of politicians and focus on these issues of our future,” he added in a media note.
“And yes, by NRM insisting on these, it’s not only securing your future but it’s also guaranteeing our livelihoods today and tomorrow. To the candidates that bother to focus on these issues, let’s hear them out more and more.”