By Isaac Imaka(The Daily Monitor)
The Old Testament, Numbers 30:12, teaches thus: If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.
President Museveni has not kept true to that particular biblical teaching, according to a report by the parliamentary Committee on Government Assurances. The report was leaked to the Daily Monitor by a member of an opposition party who cannot be named for fear of retribution from colleagues.
According to the committee, the President has not delivered on 817 pledges, not to the Lord, though, but to Ugandans, since coming to power in 1986.
The report is up for launch today at Parliament.
“The pledges are totalling to 817, with an estimated cost of more than Shs12.9 trillion in key areas of Infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, schools, airport, bridges, electricity and machinery,” says Mr Odonga Otto, the chairperson of Parliament’s Government Assurance Committee.
“This Shs12.9 trillion excludes assurances that cannot be quantified in pecuniary terms like creation of new districts and setting up of town councils,” he says.
Government Assurance is a parliamentary committee set up to scrutinise the assurances, promises and undertakings given by ministers and other agents of government in Parliament from time to time and report on the extent to which those assurances, promises and undertakings have been implemented.
Members of Parliament submitted their respective lists of unfulfilled promises from their respect constituencies.
However, the Minister for Presidency, Mr Frank Tumwebaze, faults the committee’s report, poking holes in the method used to come up with the “unfulfilled” promises.
Mr Tumwebaze says it is only the President or his office that has the authentic list of promises made by the President but the Otto Committee “never even invited” them to appear and submit the pledges they have.
“Does the Odonga Committee have what pledge was fulfilled or not? What if the list they have is full of what we already fulfilled?
“Why didn’t they ever call us to appear before them as the office being scrutinised? Why didn’t they find it important to put their list to test by asking us what we have in our records? With such a method, their list becomes flawed and a document to serve political interests and therefore we dismiss it out rightly,” he said.
According to Mr Tumwebaze, no one has the power to confirm the authenticity of a pledge apart from the President who makes the pledge or his office because it has the book of records.
One of the outstanding promises is the Shs250 million pledge the President made to the 93 Mashonga-Kyamuhunga tea plot owners in 1990.
The committee’s report ranks the unfilled pledges and government assurances per district and Kamuli comes out as the district with the highest number of unkept promises, 69, followed by Kabarole (52), Jinja (48), Nakasongola (45), Kasese (26), Bugiri (25), Busia (24) and Buyende (22).
According to the report, the President has defaulted more on the promise of rehabilitating the different social service infrastructure around the country, including dilapidated hospitals and agricultural schemes, among others.
There are 156 such promises and Jinja comes out as the most lied to district in that category with 16 unkept promises followed by Kasese (9), Kamuli and Luuka, both with eight promises and Sironko, Ibanda and Bukwo all at six promises.
Electricity promises stand at 123 with Kamuli still taking the biggest share of 18 promises followed by Lwengo at 10 promises.
However, according to the government spokesperson, Mr Ofwono Opondo, the President does not give individual promises but gives a government policy promise so that individuals are able to work for themselves out of poverty.
He further said some of the promises come up during the President’s routine tours around the country, people read memoranda that the President later takes up and delivers on.
“During elections, the President is put under a lot of pressure and he promises many things but when he has calmed down and goes to the Finance ministry for a vehicle he promises and he is told that there’s no money he can’t sell his own cows to buy the vehicle,” Opondo said.
However, Mr Tumwebaze says not all requests made to the President or promises made by the President are captured as Presidential pledges.
“If this office has not captured it then it is not a pledge,” he said. “The President receives, on a daily basis, volumes and volumes of requests. Should those wishful requests be taken as pledges?”
Failing to keep promise
The report says President Museveni has defaulted on 92 promises to deliver cars and cousin equipment.
These include a promise he made in 2006 and 2011 in Gomba District for a bus for Kabulasoke Teachers Training College and an ambulance for the district respectively.
During the 2001 presidential campaigns, he promised to tarmac the Kaitabawala-Budondo -Matuumu Road, Magamaga -Buyengo -Muguluka Namagera Roads in Jinja; that, the report says, he has not fulfilled.
In 1998, he promised to fund the renovation of Mubuku Irrigation Scheme in Kasese District but he is yet to do so.
In 1996, he promised tarmacking of Mbale – Bubulo- Lwakhakha Road and the installation of power at Kalegero Teachers College and Katovu Mudala in Manafwa and Bukoto Country respectively but he is yet to deliver.
The report also quotes President as having promised, during the 2011 campaigns, the construction of a district hospital in Manafwa, Budaka and Kibuku and the rehabilitation of Abim Hospital but he is yet to deliver.
He is also yet to deliver the Pokot hospital he promised while at Pokot Secondary School.
However, Mr Opondo says the President actually scores more on the infrastructure front and that most of the infrastructural promises are factored into local government budgets.
“The President has delivered on especially infrastructure like roads: The Mbale Sironko Road, the Sironko-Lira Dokolo Road, Mityana, Mubende to Bundibughyo Road have been done and they were promised by the President,” he said.
Political and social commentators have, however, said the President’s continued ‘hand-out’ approach to socio-economic and political issues and the people’s Oliver Twist Syndrome point to a festered wound in the governance of this country.
“The President’s promises are a total misallocation and misuse of public resources,” said Mr Julius Mukunda, the coordinator for Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG). “The President’s continued promises are the reason the State House Budget keeps going up and the reason for the many supplementary budgets.”
He further says the continued promises are a sign that Uganda’s is a commercial democracy and not one where people make choices and have independent positions.
“We have a presidency that just buys the wishes of the people because what people want and feel is not what the presidency wants so it has to buy off the people,” he said. “The President should stop promising people, everything he wants should be within the annual budget.”
Some of the pledges made by President Museveni
Rehabilitation of hospitals, schools, other social installations
Equipment and cars
Top five districts per promise
Cars,Ox ploughs, Tractors, Motorcycles
Health centres (34)