Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Kahinda Otafiire has attacked political leaders for being pretentious and amassing power and titles and not fighting poverty among the people.
Gen Otafiire, who was speaking at the close of a management training course at Uganda Management Institute (UMI) in Kampala, said it was shameful for the leaders to call themselves excellencies and honourables and yet lead 40 million people who have no shoes, cannot afford three meals a day and have no medicine in hospitals.
“If you are a leader, and lead a country like Uganda and you know the country is backward and you do not tell people they are backward, what are you paid for? Then you tell them, you are wonderful, great…. the fellas cannot afford education, they have jiggers, and people sleep in churches shouting….” Gen Otafiire said.
Gen Otafiire, who is known for his frank opinion, is no stranger to controversy and once said he was tired of voters who have made it a habit of begging from their Members of Parliament. He said the habit distorts the use of money in Uganda’s politics and must be stopped.
At the Thursday conference, Gen Otafiire said: “The political leadership of Africa is very busy, I do not know excellencies, honourable ministers! Honourable minister leading 40 million people who have no shoes, leading people who cannot afford three meals, who have no medicine in hospitals, it is shameful.”
The conference organised by The African Association of Public Administration and Management, an international professional association for African Public administrators and managers. Partners conveners included UMI and Centre of Specialisation in Public Administration and Management.
Gen Otafiire’s speech seem to echo that of President Museveni 32 years ago soon after he shot his way to power, promising to fight poverty saying he was not interested in titles as was the case with past leaders.
“The honourable excellency who is going to the United Nations in executive jets, but has a population at home of 90 per cent walking barefoot, is nothing but a pathetic spectacle, “ Mr Museveni said as he took oath of office as the 9th president of Uganda at the steps of Parliament on January 26, 1986.
Mr Museveni also then said: “Yet this excellency may be busy trying to compete with Reagan and Gorbachev to show them that he, too, is an excellency. These are some of the points in our political programme. As time goes on, we shall expand more on them.”
Gen Otafiire said African leaders have now mastered the art of telling lies to constituents and well-meaning transformational leaders, who would help people are often rejected on account of saying the truth.
“I normally have a problems with my constituents. They just want me to tell them I that will create a river where there is no water. I am not going to tell you lies,” he added.
Gen Otafiire also said, although without elaborating that a backward country like Uganda does not need the Opposition.
He said he became a soldier out of frustration of bad leadership “But even in the army, I am not a professional soldier. I became a soldier by frustration, just because there was bad leadership in the country, something had to be done and there was nobody willing to do it and that is how I became a soldier,” Gen Otafiire said.
At the same event, UMI director general, Dr James Nkata, appealed to participants who came from Kenya, Lesotho, Ghana, Uganda and Sudan to practise to become better managers and transform the continent.