The teacher-cum-journalist who recently joined politics calls for holistic approaches to poverty reduction
BREAKER: Some of our voters smile at a glassful of waragi while they turn a blind eye to the motive of such politicians who buy it. Beware! Some are conmen….baferebennyini!
George William Ssebuggwawo, says his people in Kassanda North still miss him in Parliament and he has assured the voters that he will challenge the incumbent in the 2021 NRM primaries. MJA-UGANDA’s Mugwanya George William spoke to Ssebuggwawo. Below are the excerpts.
The readers MJA-UGANDA wish to know you. Could you introduce yourself?
I was born 47 years ago to a peasant Christian family of the late Mzee Yovani Bulega and Mary Namatovu of Kinyonyi village, Manyogaseka Parish, Kassanda Sub-County in Mubende District. I am married with three children and I reside at Kiwawu LCI, Kamuli Parish in Kassanda Sub-County. I grew up with eleven siblings, seven of them are girls and we lived neighbors with biting poverty.
What is your education background?
I started climbing the ladder of education from the nearest local Anglican Church school – Kamuli C/U. In 1981 I joined Kamuli C/U Primary School located about 2 Kms away from Kireka – Namugongo road formerly in Mpigi District where I completed my Primary education.
On June 23, 1986 I was enrolled for Ordinary Level at King’s College Budo before proceeding to Makerere High School for Advanced Level in 1990. In 1993 I joined Makerere University for my undergraduate degree course in Arts with Education and I graduated on January 24, 1997.
What do you for a living?
After my graduation I taught at St. MatiaMulumba SSS and Makonzi Boarding Schools until 1998. In 1999, I went to Kigali (Rwanda) where I taught English and Geography until 2004. In 2005, The New Times [Rwanda’s Daily]recruited me as Society Editor and writer until 2008 when Uganda’s New Vision appointed me as its Special Correspondent based in Kigali.
To improve my journalism, The New Times organized and sponsored an in-service training course in 2006 with the Nairobi’s Media House, which produces the Daily Nation, Eastafrican among others. Up to date, my byline in the media is George Kalisa (my Pseudo name).
After my active years as a media practitioner, the government of Rwanda contracted me as an English Tutor to help in the introduction of English as a medium of instruction in all Rwandan schools in 2009, a job I did until April 25, 2013 when the contract ended. Then, on January 27, 2014, I founded West Buganda College in the Constituency. Currently am self-employed and I mainly offer communications consultancy services in Rwanda and the region.
Do you have any leadership experience?
Mark you, in the media house, Editors are leaders. I’ve already told you that I was the Society Editor at The New Times (Rwanda’s Only English Daily). Anyway, at Makerere University I was a Guild Presidential aspirant in 1994/5 and I lost to James Opoka (RIP). However, I became a GRC member for Nkrumah Hall and Chairman of Makerere University Mubende Students’ Association (MUMSA). During my term of office I lobbied with the District Local Council 5 to extend some financial assistance to the needy students at the Campus, an issue which was deliberated and adopted in the District budget.
Simultaneously, I won a hot race for the Maanyi Sub-County Youth Councilor in 1993; then I became the Sports and Culture Secretary on the First District Youths Council the same year.
News does the rounds that you’ll contest the Kassanda North MP seat in the 2021 elections. Can you throw some light on this?
Of course yes! I’ll stand. This is from the horse’s mouth. I will take on any candidate that intends to vie for the Kassanda North MP seat. Given my political nous and spine I’m confident I’ll outwit my adversaries and the conviction that I’m the most deserving for the MP seat is widespread. The devil behind vote-rigging, cheap politics, mudslinging and impropriety, which prevailed in the previous Parliamentary elections, will be beshamed come 2021. I will challenge the incumbent who is apparently incompetent for the Parliamentary job. My people in Kassanda North say they miss me in Parliament. I assure them my challenger in 2021 Parliamentary elections is not yet born.
What solution do you have in place to mitigate the rigging?
For sure, I don’t want to pre-empty the remedies for this major obstacle to the evolution of elective democracy in Uganda as a whole. My opponents are bound to devise other means if I divulge the small details of the counter-measures here and now. Mike Tyson said, “Every man has a plan until they are punched at the mouth”.
Then, who could be your adversaries?
First, there are those guys that have been thriving on vote-rigging, manipulation of voters by flushing out monies to them, who in broad-day light resist conventional democratic practices. Even the genius cannot hold the same office at Kaweeri for two decades. Otherwise, it’s one way of declaring oneself a political failure. Second, my other adversaries include; poverty and incredible silence of legislators in the face of bad governance and transformation of the Ugandan Parliament into a rubber stamp Parliament; whose major assignment is to ring-fence interests of politicians other than those of the voters they represent. The incredible silence has paved way to the introduction of taxes on agricultural inputs which contradict the government’s stance to fight poverty.
Clearly, there is no correlation between the fight against poverty and the regressive taxes. Through such taxes, the government would raise revenue close to UGSH three billion, but spend more than UGSH six billion on malnutrition and other poverty related diseases. Comprehensive and holistic approaches are needed to address widespread poverty.
What makes you stand out in the 2021 Parliamentary race in Kassanda North?
I’m a highly acclaimed son of Kassanda for my revolutionary political views, assertiveness, eloquence and for being a down-to-earth politician, Buganda Kingdom loyalist and Pan Africanist. Recently, I became popular in the area as a radical critic of bad leadership in the area and the district in general.Am an author of O’ Level books and a legendary writer in the region. So, if my people want quality representation then I am the only option.
What exactly should the voters expect of your representation?
According to Article 90 of the 1995 Constitution, as an MP they should expect me to make and enact laws, respect their views, to physically vote on bills, to use the Parliamentary forum to table motions and initiate a bill. Other roles are: monitoring government projects, sitting on local administrative councils, representing the country if the Speaker entrusts me with that assignment, influencing budgeting process.
As an MP, I can, also, bring a motion to the floor, react on the Speaker’s briefing, write to any clerk of the Parliament on any issue, hold Public rallies and/or consultative meetings in my constituency and inform my electorate on the on-goings in the House. Other roles could be sitting on cause committee. We have the sectoral committee, select committee, standing committee and adhoc committee.
Won’t you buy booze (alcohol), gifts, coffins, pay school fees for your voters’ children, attend fundraisings, slaughter cows for voters and so on?
Absolutely not! Populists can do that, but I’m a democrat. Well, I can participate in a fundraising like any other responsible citizen but not as an MP. Previous MPs religiously did all that including paying dowry for their voters, but the area still suffers from underdevelopment, which is largely blamed on poor representation of my people and adoption of such piecemeal approaches to poverty alleviation. Cheap politics has prevailed for so long and I wanna start a new chapter. Some of our voters smile at a glassful of waragi while they turn a blind eye to the motive of such politicians who buy it. Beware! Some are conmen….baferebennyini!
Any message to the voters?
They should this time round vote wisely, not wildly. Each one’s vote determines the destiny of our area. Let them watch out for deceitful politicians that buy the voters at the cost of development in the area. Lastly, but not leastly I ask them to vote me as MP for Kassanda North in the 2021 elections.
Could you share with Ugandans your philosophy of life?
Man would stay in politics only because the more risky it is, the more profitable. Indeed, it’s the most risky and most profitable venture ever.
How can your descendants and generations remember you?
For my generation’s memoir is that huge humanity of me was living in seclusion and in near sorrow as a consequence of bad politics. It is so bad that many Ugandans had forgotten the last time when they had their genuine smile.