I was shocked last week when I saw the Member of Parliament for Kira Municipality, Hon. Ssemujju Ibrahim, rolling off a misleading narrative on the floor of Parliament while presenting a minority report in response to the Budget committee report for the estimates for the Financial year 2023/2024.
The three-term MP colorfully insisted that there was a waste of taxpayers’ money spent on the State House, which he presented as being synonymous with the President and members of the First Family. One can forgive Hon. Gorreth Namugga (Mawogola South) who was among other MPs who appended signatures to the report but one cannot forgive Hon. Ssemujju- as an experienced legislator and an accomplished journalist-for showing that he doesn’t know the composition of the State House. State House is a large institution with the President as a single resident and staff member.
To attempt to drive his point home, Ssemujju stated that money allocated to the State House should be slashed because the President and First Lady, Maama Janet, no longer have children to tend to in the State House since they now have families of their own. Indeed, that’s so true because money allocated to the State House has nothing to do with the presence of the first children. It has to do with the functions that the institution plays and for which it was established. It’s similar to saying that the White House in America is all about POTUS and FLOTUS and that since they have no children to tend to, then no budget allocation is necessary.
Let me take the opportunity to educate our leaders that the State House is a very broad institution. President Museveni as a leader elected by Ugandans made the State House a special operative institution that backs up the mainstream Government structure. It’s an institution that checks and supplements other institutions. For example, you are all now familiar with the State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SHACU) headed by Brig. Henry Isoke. As the name goes, that unit which has opened new ground in the fight against corruption is housed within; the Presidential Press Unit (PPU) headed by Mr. Sandor Walusimbi whom I deputize is also there; there is a Lands Department, a Legal Department, and several other operations all established for the good function of Uganda and benefitting Ugandans.
As the overall Commander of the security agencies, H.E. the President gets a lot of reports. Using his prerogative, he assigns State House teams to crosscheck those reports to guide his informed decisions on different issues. That’s why the President is ever spot-on in his actions. This has contributed greatly to keeping him in touch with the public at a pace that no other leader could ever muster. I am sure Hon. Ssemujju knows this and, perhaps, it’s why he and his colleagues want the State House to be disadvantaged. It’s part of the program for regime change but uses Parliament as a base.
State House is less of a home and more of an office complex, but with many facilities which are accessible to Ugandans of all shades. Many a Ugandan has been to and attended functions and meetings at the State House. Having the State House saves Government resources because it hosts functions that would otherwise be booked into private venues or require the President to travel a lot.
State House hosts foreign dignitaries coming to strengthen our relations with regional and foreign Governments for the benefit of Ugandans. Many investors are also hosted at the State House before they head to the ground. The place has to be well-maintained, secure, and conducive for the different classes of people who come there. Should they find crumbling furniture, cobwebs, and overgrown bush crawling with snakes everywhere?
If our leaders are serious, they should find time and visit the complex to get acquainted with its operations.
Regardless of the political side, they are free to request and hold meetings there because the institution is for all Ugandans. Even FDC, NUP, DP, and UPC can have their caucus meetings there.
At the same time, President Museveni is a hands-on leader who operates more in the field. As I was writing this article, he had just concluded a Wealth Creation tour in the Masaka area, and headed to the island district of Kalangala, on the same mission. In Masaka, he commissioned a Presidential skilling hub, one of the 21 placed in different zones countrywide and geared at equipping vulnerable youths with relevant skills to create their jobs and employ others.
Many other Ugandans have benefitted from State House scholarships. All these operations require an investment. Ugandans are very happy with these programs which have transformed their lives. Should these hubs be closed because some MPs, whose interests are known only to themselves, are not happy with President Museveni?
Our leaders should love Ugandans, and have their interests at heart, more than they hate Museveni as a person. The move to incapacitate him from reaching down to his people will not work. He has sacrificed for this country and given all his youthful energy and now elderly maturity for the benefit of the common person unlike some leaders who earn from the Government but continue acting separate from it and only specializing in the blame game. May God open their eyes!
Deputy Presidential Press Secretary