Ms Molly Nawe Kamukama, who was President Museveni’s Principal Private Secretary since November 2016, was in December 2019 appointed the State Minister for Economic Monitoring. In this interview with PML Daily, Ms Kamukama responds to recent criticism on social media platforms and her new roles in government.
QN: As a minister in charge of economic monitoring, what is your take on the COVID-19 pandemic vis-a-vis the economy?
ANS: I think the first thing as a country is to worry about life. The most important business for me in 2020 is being safe. That is why it was our first response as a country. You need to be safe and alive before you can start doing business. And, good enough, Ugandans have heeded to this call. It is commendable and it is something we should thank especially the President who has spearheaded this campaign to keep us safe.
QN: The economy is being battered with loss of jobs as we struggle to keep safe. What is the government doing about it?
ANS: Unfortunately, many sectors, especially the service sector, have been hit very hard. Tourism, the media, trade etc. Even hospitals are receiving less patients now. Because probably also the washing of hands could also have improved the hygiene and lessened the disease burden for the country. So, yes it is true, there is already loss of jobs and there’s going to be long term effects. Even in manufacturing which has remained open, the effects are bad because exporting is difficult, even locally, the demand is low.
I implore Ugandans to continue being active in the agricultural sector by cultivating primary production. We need food. The village chairpersons and all our local leaders should encourage our people to cultivate food and more food. We need to remain self-sustaining in terms of food so that, on top of COVID-19 effects, we also do not suffer food shortages.
QN: What is your ministry doing in helping the government response?
ANS: We are working with the other sector players in the economy like the Ministry of Finance and Bank of Uganda, we are evaluating. We are looking at the economic recovery in a wholistic way. Cabinet is going to sit and come up with interventions to the economy. The president will then announce to the country what government is going to do.
But, already, we are putting money in Uganda Development Bank for manufacturers to access funding.
QN: Social media been awash with allegations that you amassed a lot of wealth through corruption in your previous assignment as Principal Private Secretary?
ANS: This is not only a distraction but also dangerous to wake up and malign a person. It is morally wrong! Those making the allegations are legally liable, because you cannot just wake up to say I am corrupt, I have buildings on Dewinton Road, Kampala Road or whichever road they are mentioning!
If that was true, why not report them to the relevant authorities or institutions instead of slandering me through social media? Government has invested in anti-corruption institutions; they have the infrastructure to investigate. For example the Land registry is also online. So before anybody writes such a thing, why don’t they crosscheck?
We will definitely look at remedies later. We shall take them on legally because they are committing cybercrime by instigating such allegations on social media.
But it is not true that I could have acquired all that illegal wealth. If I was corrupt, how then would I be promoted from being a permanent secretary to a minister? That is an insult to the appointing authority! I would call upon the people who are writing those things who are known, by the way, to know that it is a crime.
Accumulating illegal wealth is corruption, which is a crime. If they have evidence, let them report to government entities that fight corruption; the IGG, CID and there is even State House Ant-corruption unit now.
QN: So, who are the perpetrators?
ANS: Some are officers of government. One of them is at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They say I control the president; can you imagine? That when I sneeze, the president coughs! I think it should be investigated and I will also call upon the president to investigate them so that his name isn’t maligned. But all this is emanating from back home in Kazo. They are trying to malign my name because of politics. But I know the people of Kazo know what they want.
QN: There are allegations that to caused the sacking of Kazo District Health Officer?
ANS: As a minister, I have no business with technical staff. I have only worked through the political leadership. I have only met the DHO of Kazo once when I took my part of COVID-19 relief. I delivered health protection gears, masks, gloves, hand sanitisers and all that. He received the things. That was the last I talked to him. Two days later, I saw on WhatsApp that I am the one who fired him. That I instigated it during a cabinet meeting. There was nothing like that! The only thing I can do is to interest myself in finding out why he was interdicted. However, the most important thing is that Kazo as a district, must have a medical officer especially during this time of Covid-19 to do mini surgeries in our Health Centre IV, especially for the women who are delivering. We shall work with the ministry of health and the rest to see that there is no such a gap.
QN: What is your agenda in your bid for the seat of the woman MP for Kazo district?
ANS: For Kazo, for me it is a passion! First and foremost, I am glad that I can have time to go back to my area and also put my small contribution if possible. It is a district where I was a born, raised, went to school, and where I am married. So it’s an area that is dear to my heart. Of course as a leader, I have a mission and purpose.
There are a lot of things that government can provide. And as part of government, I will try and see that whatever government is supposed to do in the district, it is done properly; that is in terms of development where you have roads, you have power, you have water, education and health. But there is also a bigger problem which I am more passionate about, which many leaders aren’t talking about yet it is very crucial. The issue of household income is very important to me and it is something that is lacking in our area and generally Uganda. I will be very much involved in my area so that it is not left behind.
QN: Any final word?
ANS: Yes, my final word is that we are still in COVID-19 time. I call upon Ugandans to wear masks, wash their hands or sanitise. Let us all of us follow the health guidelines, be careful, keep a distance of 4 metres as we have been advised because, while we have no deaths yet, COVID-19 is still here. It is not yet uhuru! I also call upon those Ugandans involved in agriculture to please plan, cultivate and produce more food. We need food. We have been lucky to have good rains, so it’s important that we do what we are good at and do it very well. This will also help us use this time for agriculture. Those countries which are under lockdown like us but cannot do agriculture will want to buy our food.