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Fifteen years down, President yet to honour Late Wapa’s pledge

Former premier Mr. James W. Wapakhabulo. (PHOTO/FILE)

MBALE – Promise: Fifteen years on, Gov’t’s promised to construct an institution in memory of former premier Mr James W. Wapakhabulo but it is yet to be delivered.

The Promise

On April 3, 2004, President Museveni, announced that government was going to construct an institution in Mafudu in memory of the premier Mr James W. Wapakhabulo.

This was during Late Mr. Wapakhabulo’s burial at Mafudu, the birthplace for the late Deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs.

“The Government is going to construct an institution in Mafudu in memory of late Premier James Wambogo Wapakhabulo for his great contribution to Uganda and this should start immediately,” said President Museveni.

The President, who was speaking at the burial of the Late Wapakhabulo in Mafudu village in Sironko district, described the late Wapakhabulo as a friend of 36 years with whom they fought tyranny and built institutions of democracy, a pan-Africanist who, with other freedom fighters, were dedicated to people and not personal goals.

Mr. Wapakhabulo, commonly known as Wapa died March 27 and was laid to rest at his ancestral home in Mafudu, Bumaena clan, Sironko district on April 3, 2004.

President Museveni repeated the promise in January 3, 2009, during the funeral rites and memorial service in memory of late at the same venue.

And on October 11, 2015, during the burial of former minister of state for industry Dr. James Mutende, President Museveni again repeated the same promise and tasked the Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda to resolve the pledge he made to construct an institution in memory of late Wapakhabulo but to date there is nothing on ground.

“For Late Wapa’s memorial institution, I am directing the PM to follow it up and ensure it is done immediately,” said President Museveni.

The pledge for Late Wapa, a man many described as a brilliant intellectual, a reliable nationalist, a disciplined politician has now taken thirteen years.

The LCI chairperson Mafudu village Mr Jackson Matongo while addressing mourners at the late minister of state for industry Dr. Mutende’s burial said his death also reminds the Bagisu of the pledge President Museveni made January 3, 2009, for Mafudu village after the death of Mr. Wapakhabulo.

Mr. Matongo told the mourners that President Museveni pledged to build an education institution in memory of Late Mr James Wapakhabulo but that now fourteen years down the road there is nothing.

“President has made these promises every time he comes here, we are waiting, we shall wait and may be at a certain time he will deliver since the late was his personal friend and classmate in Dar-es-salaam,” said Mr. Matongo.

Rtd Bishop of Mbale diocese Rev Samuel Wabulakha who led the prayers during the funeral and memorial service thanksgiving ceremony on January 3, 2009, said the president should honour his pledge to the plate.

When contacted for a comment June 28, Rev Wabulakha said if government really had its loyal cadres at heart, then many of the promises made across the country would have been delivered.

“When distinguished children who are good cadres, loyal to NRM and who have given out the best to NRM die, they need to be remembered. Mr. Wapakhabulo chaired the CA, became the speaker of Parliament, served as the national political commissar, deputy premier and minister of foreign affairs, there is need for the president to follow up the pledge,” said Rtd Bishop Wabulakha.

He said as religious leaders, they will stand up as witnesses in future when this pledge is not honoured at all.

“And do you know that even during the burial of Late Maumbe Mukhwana March 4, 2017, the president again pledged to construct Maumbe’s house in Busiu and also construct a technical school in Bungokho South in his memory in addition to supporting his family and this is also yet to happen,” said Rev Wabulakha.

The Prime Minister Mr. Ruhakana Rugunda consented president made the promise and directed him to follow it up in 2014.

“And as government we are willing to deliver these promises but funds do not allow but I also know that there are many more promises that have been made across the country and we are going to deliver all of them,” said Dr Rugunda.

He explained that because all there are no funds, all the promises are going to be delivered in phases to ensure that all are implemented accordingly adding that Late Wapa made a positive contribution to Uganda especially during the liberation struggle.

He said president Museveni has scored more on the infrastructure front and that most of the infrastructural promises are factored into local government budgets and other ministries to deliver.

The President of FDC party Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu said as chairman of the constituent Assembly, late Wapakhabulo conducted matters in a fair and balanced manner and he did not treat those in other political parties as enemies.

Maj Gen Muntu said Late Wapa was consumed by national issues and service delivery not just mere issues of Mbale where he came from and that some of his close friends and colleagues, found it difficult to tell whether he was from Mbale or not.

“For a president to promise and then fails to deliver for his fallen colleague, friend, compatriot is the last thing a democratic leader should do. And given the fact that institutions have all died, nothing will be done to construct the institution,” said Maj Gen Muntu.

“That is man each of us in the country treasured, he was a gentleman, a democrat, a Pan Africanist and the president should fulfill the pledge to build an education institution in his name,” added Maj Gen Mugisha.

The President of the Democratic Party [DP] Mr. Nobert Mao said Wapa as he was fondly called, chaired the constituent Assembly well, he dealt with monarchists, republicans, federalists and other interests without denying them a chance to speak out their views and that this won over the hearts of all the delegates.

“We sincerely owe the fallen comrade a lot, and government should immediately budget to construct the promised Education institution in his memory,” said Mr Mao

Mr. Mao added that it was Wapa who ran around the world trying to correct Uganda’s image and helped restore our relations with Rwanda, DR Congo etc.

Mr. Nathan Nandala Mafabi, the Secretary General for FDC said some of the promises president Museveni makes are part of his unfulfilled pledges made during the last election cycle.

“Do you know that since coming to power in 1986, President Museveni has defaulted on many pledges in key areas of infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, schools, airports, bridges, electricity and machinery, so Late Wapakhabulo’s pledge might never come,” said Mr. Nandala Mafabi.

“And the president is going away anytime from now, how do you expect him to fulfill this promise?” added Mr. Nandala.

Status

It is now more than fifteen years since the promise to construct an institution in memory of Late Wapakhabulo was first made, it remains a pipe dream among Bugisu Parliamentary group and Bugisu sub-region at the slopes of Mt Elgon [Mbale, Sironko, Manafwa, Bududa and Bulambuli].

But instead president Museveni has continued making more promises in the sub-region without materializing the former.

Official Position

The minister for presidency Ms Mbayo Esther Mbulakubuza said the president is keen on delivering all the pledges he has made in the country.

But according to a report, 2013/14 by the Parliamentary Committee on Government Assurances many pledges made by President Museveni have not been delivered and that they might never be delivered

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.

The RDC Namisindwa Mr. Moses Kigai Wamoto said the president will deliver this at a certain time but that there is a lot on the plate to be done.

“Our people must learn to be patient because the president has a lot of things he is doing for us in the country. The late was a personal friend of the president and I am very sure that he can’t forget him, he will definitely deliver this promise,” said Mr. Kigai Wamoto.

Impact

Rtd Bishop Wabulakha says that the Bible in Ecclesiastes 5:5 says “It is better not to make a promise than to make one and not keep it and that it adds in Proverbs 20:25 “Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost”.

“If you made a promise you can’t keep, repent, learn your mistakes and don’t make another one. President made this promise, he has continued to make more without fulfilling them, this is biblically sin,” said Rev Wabulakha.

He said Jesus himself promises that when it comes time to judge people for the choices they’ve made in their lives, “…by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37). So don’t speak, text, email, or otherwise use your words to make promises that you don’t really mean.

Mr. Davies Mwaule, a local resident of Mbale municipality said if President Museveni valued Late Wapa, the man he shared a university hall room with in the 1960s, a friend and a colleague in the revolution that saw NRA take power in 1986, then he should honour his pledge.

He explained that even when he is dead, the Bagisu [Bamasaaba] still value Late Wapa, as a man with a distinguished legal mind, distinguished negotiator with a humble but steadfast resolve, who needs to be recognised.

“For me to make the Bagisu/Bamasaaba happy, president should honour this pledge, it could even win him support from Bugisu sub-region,” said Mr. Mwaule.

The Late Wapa’s pledge has taken over 15 years, for a man many described as a brilliant intellectual, a reliable nationalist, a disciplined politician who died prematurely when the country needed his services most.

Late James Wapakhabulo died in his sleep at his private residence in Bugolobi in [April 2004] and at the time of his death, government seemed not to have a proper explanation of his whereabouts. It was huge shame when the government spokesperson.

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