KAMPALA. Members of the opposition today poured cold water over a planned radio campaign by the President to educate the public on land matters.
The President will this evening kick off a countrywide radio ‘education’ campaign on the contentious Constitutional (Amendment) Bill which touches on government’s compulsory acquisition of land for public infrastructure works, here and related land matters.
The campaign, recipe according to a State House statement released on Sunday, starts in the deep southwestern Kabale sub-region today, where thePpresident will be hosted on Voice of Kigezi radio starting at 7:00 p.m.
It is not clear if the campaign is a direct response to a similar though opposite effort being carried out by opposition MPs during which the proposed changes in the land law continue to be rejected.
But opposition MPs have branded the campaign as a waste of tax payer’s money — and a confirmation that the President has destroyed state institutions that would otherwise have executed the task of sensitising the masses.
The President is believed to have settled for radio talk shows in order to popularise the controversial constitutional amendment bill 2017. The bill seeks to amend Article 26 of the Constitution in order to authorise compulsory acquisition of land before land compensation disputes are settled.
The government argues that land disputes lead to delay of several public projects which costs the state billions of shillings annually. The bill has been received with hostility by various sections of the public.
Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze told PML Daily that there is a structure of government officials and area MPs which the President has deliberately overlooked in his bid to educate the public on land matters.
“It’s sad that the President thinks everybody else cannot convince Ugandans apart from himself,” she said.
Nambooze said Museveni should have listened to his own party MPs who advised him against the constitutional amendment.
Nambooze’s comments refer to an NRM caucus meeting in State House on August 16 during which several legislators vociferously criticised the proposed amendment, labelling it unnecessary and unwarranted.
At the behest of the President, the caucus instead agreed to set up a ten-man select committee comprising of ministers and MPs to consult on what laws must be changed to fast-track land acquisition without stalling projects, and without removing the right to fair, prompt and prior compensation of project affected persons.
Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Ssegona said the President does not understand the proposed constitutional amendment on land and will poison the minds of Ugandans.
“He himself was shocked at the contents of the bill, those who attended the caucus tell us.” Ssegona asserted “The man is not in charge of the affairs of this country.”
The President’s programme has been defended by NRM legislators who claim that as the fountain of honour the President has a right to clarify on issues affecting the state.
This position was articulated by the Kazo county MP Gordon Bafaki and the Bunya East MP Kyewalabye Majegere.
“In the village, people understand land issues in a different way. Here in Parliament we are also discussing something different, I think it is within the proper channels that the President should give some clarification to the people of Uganda,” Bafaki said.
President Museveni will go to Mbarara tomorrow, before travelling to Kabarole and Hoima and Mubende and Masaka districts.