Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has scoffed at Ugandan opposition who think booing government officials at public events will force the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) out of power.
The premier was delivering President Yoweri Museveni's message at the burial of Democratic Party stalwart Dr Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere at the family ancestral home in Nattale, Nkumba in Wakiso district on Monday.
Although Museveni and Ssemogerere remained on different political paths, the president expressed sorrow and lauded Ssemogerere for being non-disruptive and non-subversive in his political career. Museveni who sent a personal condolence contribution of Shs 20 million said the only bad thing to say about Ssemogerere was when in 1996, he forsook his 'National Unity Government.
The deceased served under Museveni since the latter’s overthrow of Tito Okello Lutwa’s regime in 1986 under what was named the national movement that critics branded as a one-party state. Ssemogerere decamped later promising to free political parties once elected but lost the 1996 presidential poll to Museveni.
Amid protestations from mourners, most of them opposition sympathisers, Museveni extolled the recent alliance with DP and UPC, for which he said Ssemogerere (was not in support of the relationship) still had an immense contribution to make in spite of his age. Afterwards, Nabbanja decried the growing intolerance of the opposition towards government officials.
"When someone is speaking and you boo, it means there's something wrong with you. For us [government] we listened to them [opposition] and even though most of what they said were lies, we shall pick on some truths and try to correct the situation...When you listen, you learn, and that is what the president told me when he appointed me as prime minister. But anyway, I pity those shouting at us. They can shout and for us, we shall rule," said Nabbanja in Luganda.
The pacifist died on Friday aged 90 but was at the helm of arrangements for an opposition-led national unity conference slated for January 16, 2023. Museveni said he first got to know the late Ssemogerere in 1961 when he, together with then classmates advocate John Kawanga and late Eria Kategaya, as students at Ntare School invited the latter to give a talk to their student political grouping.
Museveni said though they had a third line of thinking that later crystallised into the NRM, they admired DP’s principles on national unity and the politics at Mengo as opposed to UPC which always said one thing and did the other.
Earlier on Nabbanja had taken time to respond to attacks by National Unity Platform (NUP) leader Robert Kyagulanyi who amid ululations told mourners he was the elected president of Uganda, having allegedly won the 2021 presidential poll he said was rigged by Gen Museveni.
Likening Museveni to Milton Obote who he said rigged the 1980 general election against Ssemogerere, Kyagulanyi said the former had done the same against him in the most recent presidential elections of 2021.
He also talked of the recent abduction and disappearance of one of his supporters; Jamshid Kavuma 16 days ago by security operatives and intimated that he too could disappear forever like the late legislator Jolly Joy Kiwanuka of the 1960s.
Kiwanuka was the father to the current Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka, who, Kyagulanyi accused of defending murders and disappearances of Ugandans under the current regime. Kyagulanyi also disclosed he, Dr Kizza Besigye and Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu had been forced to take their forces of change meeting to Nairobi because they are unsafe in Uganda.
But Nabbanja dismissed reports of insecurity and human rights abuse saying, the reason Kyagulanyi could speak this way in the presence of government officials is that he knows nothing will ever happen to him thereafter
She also dismissed lord mayor Erias Lukwago’s accusation that government had not recognized the late Sseogerere as a hero, saying Ssemogerere was handed a Golden Jubilee medal in 2006.
Conspicuously missing at the funeral was current DP president general, Nobert Mao who adherents accuse of having sold the party to NRM for silver coins when he entered a cooperation agreement with President Museveni last July. In return, he was appointed minister of Justice while the secretary general Dr Gerald Siranda was seconded to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) by the ruling NRM.