Thursday, December 9, 2010

Besigye woos Tororo with tax cut promises

On his campaign trail, Dr. Kizza Besigye discusses the question of roads and promises Ugandans a better deal as far as infrastructure is concerned, according to this Observer article by Edris Kiggundu

IPC candidate says he will sell presidential jet TORORO – The opposition alliance flag bearer, Kizza Besigye, has said the country’s roads linking us to the outside world are not fit to be called highways because they are narrow and of poor quality. They are village paths, he said.

Campaigning in Busia town on Monday, Besigye said the poor state of Uganda’s major roads had slowed down the pace of economic development and increased the cost of doing business in the country.

“The reason why there are weigh bridges on these roads is because they know they are poor and cannot accommodate certain weights. How will a country develop if it limits the tonnage of goods that come in?” he wondered during the main rally at Madibira Primary school playground in Busia town.

The poor state of roads in the countryside, he said, had hampered his movements, leading him to arrive late for some rallies. Improving the road infrastructure is one of the five tenets of IPC’s new campaign strategy codenamed “The Power of Five” launched in Jinja last week. The other four are: Health, Education, Agriculture and Economic Development.

Indeed throughout his campaign here, Besigye has sought to emphasize this new strategy which also calls upon each supporter to recruit five other people from other parties. The strategy also urges supporters to contribute at least Shs 500 to run the campaign, every week.

“Change is coming,” he would say at the conclusion of his rallies.

As Besigye’s convoy moved through various parts of Busia, some officials from the local government here were seen distributing mosquito nets in various villages. Besigye said the timing of the distribution was intended to hoodwink voters into thinking that the government cares about their health.

“These nets were donated to Uganda by the American government long time ago but they are distributing them now. Accept them but do not give them the vote,” Besigye told the people of Busitema in Busia.

At Bunyadet, Buhehe sub-county, Busia district, Besigye welcomed Patrick Wandera, a boda boda rider, who said he was crossing from the NRM to the FDC.

“When President Museveni came here in 2006, he promised to give us (association of boda boda riders) Shs 20 million. Up to today, he has not delivered on this promise,” Wandera explained the reason for his defection.

In Busia town, Besigye said one of Museveni’s in-laws was paid Shs 2.4 billion to do media related work on CHOGM but up to date there is no proper accountability. While Besigye did not mention the said in-law, he was understood to be referring to Odrek Rwabwogo, the chief executive officer of Terp Consult, which was awarded the CHOGM media deal.

Besigye urged army veterans who fought in the 1981-1986 bush war but are yet to receive their retirement package to remain calm as his government would handle the matter.

“I know many veterans have made endless trips to Bombo [army barracks] and filled numerous forms seeking to be paid. Some have even sold their property like goats just to raise transport to Bombo but up to today they have not been paid,” Besigye noted.

Later, on Monday evening, Besigye featured on Rock Mamba FM in Tororo where he continued to criticise the government as well as expound on the policies his government would introduce. On Tuesday, still in Tororo, Besigye decried the high levels of unemployment in the country, especially among the youth.

“Today Ugandans have to go to Rwanda and Southern Sudan to look for jobs because the government does not mind about creating jobs,” he told supporters at Kwapa sub-county headquarters.

At Malaba border post, he said the high taxes charged on goods in Uganda had forced many Ugandans to engage in smuggling. He said it was surprising that fuel in Rwanda is cheaper than in Uganda yet it is transported through here.

So far, Besigye has been accorded a good reception here and it looks likely he will reap some political dividends. In Busia town, cyclists jammed the road and business came to a standstill when he arrived. It took his convoy about 30 minutes to reach the venue for the main rally, located about 600 metres from the main town.

The mobilisation was done by FDC officials here, including Geoffrey Ekanya, the MP for Tororo County, and Kevinah Taaka, an MP aspirant for the Busia Municipality seat. Some of the major campaign issues in this sub-region include poverty, poor roads and unreliable electricity. Besigye also told people in Tororo that he would sell the presidential jet on his first day in State House.

“You cannot move in a jet in a country where many people have jiggers,” Besigye said at Tororo main children’s park.

Besigye’s argument is that government is wasting taxpayers’ money on things the country doesn’t need. The jet cost Uganda Shs 80 billion.

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