18th AUGUST 2016
Rt. Hon. Speaker,
Members of Parliament,
I would like to thank the Honourable Members of Parliament for the interest you have shown in the State of the Nation Address which H.E. the President made to the House on 31st May 2016.
The depth and breadth of the debate and discussions that have followed since the address was made are a firm demonstration of the serious nature of the contents contained therein.
As we conclude this debate, I wish to draw the attention of the Members to some of the issues that were raised by the Leader of the Opposition in her response to the State of the Nation Address.
First, I would like to thank the Leader of Opposition for her response and also for acknowledging that despite some challenges, President Museveni and the NRM Government have made tremendous strides in the development of our country.
On the State of our Democracy—, The Rt Hon Leader of the Opposition falsely stated that “democracy is not some grand idea delivered to us by self-styled freedom fighters.”
Rt. Hon. Speaker, this is not only erroneous but misleading. The NRA, NRM and the freedom fighters in Uganda are the reason we are here and Uganda is what it is because of their sacrifice. This country witnessed instability in governance, coup d’états, arbitrary arrests, extra judicial killings, abrogation of the Constitution, human rights abuse among others. For the last 30 years, the NRM Government under the stewardship of President Yoweri Museveni has reversed this trend and restored the dignity of our people.
This Parliament and the Executive are a result of the democratization process brought by the National Resistance Movement. In appreciation of this, the people of Uganda, in February this year, responded by electing President Museveni and the NRM Government with 60.62% of the vote, and about 300 NRM Members of Parliament. The Leader of Opposition and other opposition leaders should appreciate this.
How can the Leader of Opposition say it is frightening to reduce democracy by equating it to mere representation of different groups in Parliament?
I want to inform this August House and the Leader of the Opposition that these groups are not only in Parliament but in every elective position in Uganda. The presence of marginalized groups in Parliament and other levels of leadership is a key element of building democracy and removing distortions of the past. It is clear from the assertion of the Leader of Opposition that these marginalized groups do not matter. I therefore would like to advise these groups as well as those who support them to seriously take note of these views by the opposition.
Furthermore, the Leader of the Opposition makes a sweeping statement that our democracy is on indictment and is in intensive care unit on account of some election petitions. Election petitions are normal in a democratic process and this is the law this August House has put in place. But more importantly, a number of these petitions are linked to fraud in the electoral process. The President was very clear on this matter during the State of the Nation Address where he identified the mistake of careerists introducing the use of money in electioneering. He made a pledge to deal with this problem and this will be part of our efforts to strengthen democracy.
On the state of the Economy—, Rt. Hon. Speaker, I thank the Rt. Hon. Leader of Opposition for acknowledging that the numerous reforms which were undertaken by the NRM Government under President Museveni since 1986, helped our country achieve sustainable economic growth, over the past several years.
As the President noted, our Economy has tremendously expanded from US $ 4Bn in 1986 to US $ 27Bn by 2014. The Economy continues to grow on a sustained basis and the prospects for accelerated growth are bright.
The NRM Government has come up with and will continue to introduce measures to ensure the expanding economy benefits all Ugandans.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, Government is aware of challenges in the economy and the President, in his address made specific reference to a number of these challenges spelling out government interventions as well. Let me assure this August House and the Country at large that the NRM Government has set 23 strategic priorities that are mainly focused on strengthening economic competitiveness and growing the economy.
On Corruption—, the Leadership of NRM under President Museveni has put in place the legal regime meant to fight the scourge of corruption in the country. In addition, the NRM Government is demonstrating action in a number of high-profile investigations and prosecutions of public officials involved in corruption. There are many cases to demonstrate this including the pensions scam, the Katosi scam, the OPM scam, the Bicycles for LCs scam, etc.
Our major challenge has been capacity to investigate. We have made a commitment to strengthen the capacity of investigating agencies and this is happening right now. I must salute Parliament for appropriating funding for these agencies.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, I am happy to note that the Rt. Hon. Leader of Opposition has pledged to rally the opposition to work with government to make corruption in Uganda a risky business by building more active partnership with anti-corruption civil society organizations.
Combating corruption is not a partisan issue because it affects us all. We therefore must work together to expunge corruption among the political leaders, the public servants and the general public.
On service delivery—, The NRM Government has heavily invested in increasing access to service delivery in health, education, agriculture, water, rural roads, rural electrification, and many other programs. Many Ugandans today have access to most essential social services.
The challenge that we are now addressing is the question of quality service delivery to our people. We extensively discussed this last month at the national leadership retreat at Kyankwanzi. We have agreed on a number of measures to remove all the major bottlenecks to quality service delivery. Ugandans should expect significant improvements in delivery of services by Government in this Kisanja Hakuna Muchezo. This is not sloganeering, we mean business.
On national defense, security and peace—, Uganda is secure, peaceful and a key player in regional peace and security efforts.
Rt Hon. Speaker I salute the Leader of Opposition for applauding President Museveni for his accomplishments in building a strong national defence force, stabilizing and securing the country.
We pledge to strengthen the engagement between the Executive and Parliament on issues of peace and security.
On the Legislative Agenda—, I take note of the areas prioritized by the Leader of the Opposition. Rt. Hon. Speaker, the President has prioritized a number of related legislation on which work has already commenced.
As Leader of Government Business in Parliament, I will engage with the Speaker to ensure that emerging issues, including those from the Opposition, are given due consideration.
In Conclusion—, Rt Hon Speaker, I would like to thank the Leader of Opposition and all the Members of this August House who contributed to this debate for their varied but valued responses to the President’s State of the Nation Address.
Government has taken note of the specific demands and concerns raised during this debate. As part of Government’s implementation processes,
I am directing the respective ministers to give due attention to these issues. As Leader of Government Business in Parliament, I will follow this up with the sectors and Government will periodically keep updated on the progress.
Rt Hon Speaker, I beg to move.
Ruhakana Rugunda Dr
Prime Minister and Leader of Government Business in Parliament