By Mubiru Ivan

President Yoweri Museveni has explained the criteria he uses to dish out cash to the youth in Kampala, Rukungiri and other parts of the country.

In a statement issued on his website on Sunday, Museveni said ever since he started the youth programmes, NRM supporters have been accusing him of rewarding opposition areas instead of giving support to the strong movement areas, an assertion he describes as wrong.

The President said each year through local government, government puts aside money that can help people get out of poverty without borrowing. In 2018/2019 budget alone, a total of Shs1.119 trillion was put aside for Operation Wealth Creation, Youth Fund, Women Fund, Micro-finance, NUSAF, PRDP, Luwero Triangle Fund, UCDA, KCCA among others.

However, Museveni disclosed that concerned people (government officials) seem not to appreciate the value of the allocated money in terms of redeeming Ugandans from poverty and that’s why he decides to intervene directly.

On how he chooses areas to intervene in directly, Museveni said he mainly focuses on two criteria that include proximity and historical reasons.

“How do I choose areas to intervene in directly? Mainly, two criteria: proximity to where I happen to reside for a length of time for some reason and some historical reasons. I started with Kiruhuura in 1966 because I happened to be living there by that time.  I did not start from Ntungamo where I was born because, by that time, I was no longer residing there.  Operationally, it was easier to tackle, first, your neighbours. There is also a moral question. Your chances of going to heaven may be compromised if you have beneficial knowledge but you do not pass it on to your neighbours,” said Museveni

“As a matter of faith, I cannot live comfortably in the neighbourhood of poor people without doing something about them.  That brings me to Kampala. I have lived on this earth for 74 years now. Thirty two (32) of those have been in the Kampala-Entebbe area,” he says.

“I, therefore, drive daily past the furniture makers of Najjanankumbi, the food-sellers of Zana, the food-sellers of Bwebajja, etc.  Once in a while, I go to Munyonyo and see the furniture makers of Nsambya or I go to Kawempe and see the furniture makers of Kubiri, Bwaise, etc. Daily, I see the metal fabricators of Katwe on my way to Entebbe. It is, therefore, a matter of religious faith that when I have some time, I stop and ask these people what they do. Only to find that they could do much better if they had the common user facilities of their own instead of renting from the few “bagagga” who cheat them.”

Museveni then urges his NRM colleagues to understand that he helps the Kampala groups under the same logic he started with the Kiruhura residents because they were his neighbours.

“If you do not start with the neighbour, whom will you help? Some of the areas like Kawumu, Kityerera and Barlegi, I focus on them for historical reasons.  We had a guerrilla camp in Kityerera in 1972/73, Kawumu was our base in 1982 and Barlegi was our base in the fight against Kony,” he added.

The President further revealed that through the State House Comptroller, he uses less money for the youth programmes compared to the money that is allocated to local governments to serve the same purpose.

“Much more money is channeled through the Ministries and Local Governments than the little fund I have been using. If my small projects are effective, then we may have to re-channel the big monies through the State House Comptroller.  Once the President is involved in programmes concerning money, then it must be the State House Comptroller to handle the money. It is government money. It must be handled by a civil servant. It is wrong for the political people to be involved in Finance or Administration. Ours is policy, plans and supervision. Finance and administration is for the civil servants. Nyineeka taza mukiyungu ─ the head of the home never goes into the kitchen.  It is now 45 years with Maama Janet, I have never stepped in the kitchen.  That is how it should be,” he noted.

Museveni also said that once his modal projects are appreciated, all the leaders (Ministers, MPs, local government, religious leaders, cultural leaders, and professionals) ought to develop consensus so that the country’s budget of Shs32,000 billion is spent more on infrastructure, service delivery, wealth creation and job-creation rather than spending it on consumption, travels, salaries and new districts.

In September this year, the president gave out cash handouts worth billions of shillings to youth in Kampala and Wakiso.

Some of the beneficiaries included Katabi Artisans Sacco, Najja Furniture and Metal Works Association, Kibuye Welders Group, Busega Welders and Furniture Makers Groups, St Balikudembe and Nakasero Market traders among others.