KASESE: The National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED) leader Joseph Kabuleta has rallied Ugandans to guard their land jealously and avoid the temptations of selling it.
Kabuleta said land is a priceless natural resource which will help Ugandans overcome poverty in future when the current government led by President Yoweri Museveni is out of power.
The former presidential candidate made the humble plea on Monday while meeting the local leaders and residents of the Rwenzori Sub region.
“One of the problems that can make a temporary problem (Museveni) become permanent is if you sell your land to buy a bodaboda. Keep that land, it’s going to become very valuable because we are pointing in a direction where we are going to teach you how to make value out of your land and also help to provide a market for your goods. So keep your land, no matter how hard pressed you get,” revealed Kabuleta, who is currently on nationwide sensitization campaign, premised on protecting Uganda’s national deposits that could be used by citizens to alleviate themselves from poverty.
The Pastor cum politician said if indeed the government wanted to improve the livelihoods of Ugandans, it would have created proper economic avenues that would help her citizens work and benefit from their hard work rather than giving out unsustainable handouts through programs like Parish Development Model.
He also urged that President Museveni’s government made a mistake of removing successful programs like cooperative societies that used to bring farmers together for a common good before coming up with the current ‘dead on arrival’ poverty alleviation programs. According to him, the old sidelined programs were better methods in helping Ugandans fight poverty.
“They give money to poor people to start businesses but even when you start up your venture, you lack market for your products and in the end, you remain poor.Its very easy to make people rich and this cannot be done by giving you handouts but by providing a proper market for your products. I want to assure you that with the Parish Development Model you will be the same three years from now, nothing is going to change,” Kabuleta noted.
He added:”Currently farmers are being exploited by the middlemen and in the end, they end up with nothing. A few years ago, the Katikkiro of Buganda started ’emwanyi terimba’ encouraging people to plant coffee but guess what happened? They went and put the Coffee Development Bill and it says only people who have licenses can buy coffee from coffee farmers and all the licenses belong to Salim Saleh. If you want people to develop, just remove the licenses, make people sell their coffee at the best price they want. So if you’re giving him the best price, he will sell to you and not the other one. This means he has the power to bargain but they took that economic freedom away.”
Kabuleta further condemned the government for pulling out of the International Coffee Organization saying the move is going to have a big negative impact on Uganda’s economy.
” The next thing they do is pull out of the International Coffee Organization and now suddenly all coffee farmers are crying because we don’t have the capacity to sell our coffee without quotas. The agency would give us quotas which are guaranteed that Uganda you fill this quota of coffee. Now we pull out and coffee farmers are going to suffer. Who is doing all that? The same person who is giving you Parish Development Model, Does he really want you to develop?” the former journalist wondered.
“After 36 years, we should know better that this government has never come up with any program to develop Ugandans. They don’t care about you. Someone who doesn’t want you to succeed takes away methods which work and gives you those which don’t work and then keeps on repeating them, giving them good names, new names but the same failed system.”
On the other hand, Baguma Hassan, the Bundibugyo Mayor lauded NEED for spreading the economic empowerment message saying its opening the eyes of ordinary Ugandans who have been exploited for long.
” In Uganda , we have a lot of riches but the ordinary Ugandans have not benefited from them. It means the government has not utilized our resources well to improve our livelihoods. Our riches are in the hands of a few. We must fight and also benefit from them as well,” Baguma said.
Launched last year, NEED, a political movement under the stewardship of Kabuleta has so far managed to spread the economic empowerment message to Busoga, Buganda, Bugisu, Bukedi, Teso, Sebei, Lango, Acholi, West Nile, Tooro and Rwenzori sub-regions.