Uganda Peoples Congress

UPC will repair services in the country if elected

From The Monitor, January 4, 2006

For 20 years, the Uganda Peoples Congress fought and campaigned for the restoration of multiparty democracy in Uganda while candidate Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and others now gladly in the opposition vigorously opposed us.

For over 10 years, from July 1985, UPC was a lone voice in advocating for human rights and political pluralism, until DP's Dr Paul Ssemogerere fell out with Museveni's NRM in 1995.

We were clearly relieved that our traditional democratic opponents and partners against dictatorship had now joined us in this noble cause. Until Dr Kizza Besigye somehow broke off from Museveni around 2000, UPC and a section of DP were not uncommonly ridiculed lone voices - with some strong comments, surprisingly, by some eminent Ugandans arguing that political pluralism was irrelevant.

Candidate Besigye's entrance to the political scene was therefore, a welcome relief to us and that is why we wish him an early release so that politics can surely continue on issues.

As UPC President Mama Kalule Obote launched our campaign manifesto on Dec. 15, the country and the rest of the world were all ears to what programmes the Party had this time round. And we did not disappoint as the continued rush to get hold of our Manifesto shows. It was interesting though, that the NRM waited for days and days to come up with their own manifesto, something that prompted political observers in town to speculate that they were still waiting to once again plagiarise UPC ideas.

On the trail

As we set off on our official campaign trail starting with the historic rally in Bugiri on Dec. 22, I could not hold my relief that at last, after 20 years of NRM monolithic rule and, over a generation since the last multi party elections, Ugandans, at last once again have an opportunity to elect a government of their choice democratically and, on the basis of an informed programme and record.

Here we were, passing through Jinja, once Uganda's most industrialised town which is now like a slum. Here we were, driving through Bugembe, a projected conurbation of Jinja but half the dual carriage way has given up - and looks like a sewage park.

As our party president lamented during the initial campaign rallies, poverty, corruption and neglect by the NRM administration has turned this once-proud nation into a people who are only grateful to God that they can afford a meal a day - and that is if they are lucky to be spared by malaria and the simple ailments that would otherwise be cured by a visit to a local dispensary.

Watching Bugiri hospital, visiting Tororo hospital which locals say last had an ambulance over 8 years ago and Busolwe which can hardly afford two doctors for a whole district, one wonders what NRM has been up to in the last 20 years!

The Mother of the Nation has a serious task ahead of her. Counselling victims of war, widows and orphans, old age pensioners without hope, disabled citizens who have been left to scavenge for a living because the state neither has the capacity nor the interest to invest in its people.

Better services

Rebuilding our shattered educational institutions that used to be the envy of our region and the whole of Africa. UPC has the job of rehabilitating the health sector to ensure that hospitals have the ambulances and the drugs as well as doctors, nurses and auxiliary staff to serve people.

Our government will tackle the rampant corruption that has placed our country among the three most corrupt in the world. Our president will ensure that those resources are redirected to the sectors that are closest to her heart - Education (especially girl child), health, poverty eradication, transport and infrastructure; she will focus on industrial development and agricultural diversification.

Miria told the people of Tororo that theirs was once the second largest industrial capital of Uganda but now has only one functioning factory. She stopped over in Mulanda town to lay a wreath at a mass grave of hundreds of victims of the NRA/NRM regime, many of them die-hard UPC supporters.

The Mother of the Nation will have to wipe off those tears and others from Mukura, Kichwamba, Pub P'Chor, Corner Kilak, Luwero and Ombaci. She was therefore very right to ensure that National Reconciliation is at the centre of her campaign as it will be in her government. The country needs it.

At Busolwe, Miria was welcomed by thousands of people who had braved the sun and waited for hours to have a glimpse at the next president. Talking to them, it was clear that all their prayers and hope was the same - a UPC government that would rebuild sanity in governance and once again ensure that their cotton had market and value.

Not enough time

So how was week one of the campaigns? Exactly as laid out above, but with one hitch; we have to visit every district before Feb. 20. Since we now have more districts than the constituencies we had at independence, we have to visit at least two districts per day in order to hit that deadline.

The good news is that there is hope and expectation in Mama Miria Kalule Obote. Even better, she will never disappoint!

UPC's spokesperson, Joseph (Pinytek) Ochieno, wrote this article on behalf of the party's presidential candidate, Miria Kalule Obote.