16 May 2014

Uganda: Youths Tell Museveni - We Want Money, Jobs

To propel his sole candidacy project, youth leaders have asked President Museveni for jobs and money. Some youths made the demand during their closed-door meeting with Museveni at State House Entebbe on Tuesday.

Sources familiar with the meeting have told us that one of the youths, Edwin Agaba, expressed disappointment that opposition leaning youths are getting jobs at the expense of NRM supporters.

Museveni had called the meeting to reconcile the warring youth groups. A section of the youths support the NRM caucus-led bid to rubberstamp the president as sole candidate in the 2016 elections, while others are opposed, preferring Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.

According to our source, Edwin Agaba cited Eric Sakwa, formerly of UPC, who is now deputy RDC, Jinja district. Agaba reportedly told Museveni that if their concerns are addressed, they will "not disturb him," causing laughter in the room.

As Agaba spoke, Adam Luzindana, the NRM youth chairman for Kampala and the most vocal pro-Mbabazi youth, tried in vain to interject. In a separate interview later on, Luzindana said he had told the president that the main issue was not jobs for youth leaders, but unemployment amongst youths in the country.

"We told him that this unemployment was a time-bomb that could cause political problems," Luzindana said.

However, Luzindana's remarks were drowned out by another youth, Robert Rutaro, secretary general of the youth league, who reiterated Agaba's jobs plea.

"Many of us oppose you because we are desperate and we want jobs," Rutaro reportedly said, before handing to the president his CV for consideration.

According to our sources, Museveni did not offer any firm assurances on money or jobs for the youths. Instead, he lectured them on self-sacrifice, advising them to mobilise for the party without expecting anything in return.

Museveni added that if the youths want to improve their quality of life, they should embrace government programmes such as the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) under the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, and Skilling Uganda, under the ministry of Education and Sports.

The meeting was called a day after a section of the party leadership led by the chairman of the NRM Youth League, Denis Namara, suspended three youth leaders; Ibrahim Kitatta, Moses Kiwanuka and David Kabanda.

The trio was accused of trying to convene a youth delegates' conference illegally. During his opening remarks on Tuesday, Museveni told the youths to be united. He said infighting does not augur well for the image of NRM. He then reversed the suspension of the leaders and reminded them that as chairman of the party, "he is like a father in the family who is supposed to give guidance to his children."

Evelyn Anite, the Youth MP (North), suggested that the pro-Mbabazi youths apologise and denounce their activities before Museveni. On the other hand, Kitatta, the Lwengo NRM youth chairman, suggested that the pro-Mbabazi youths be suspended. Museveni, sources said, looked on as the youths exchanged words.

Later, the pro-Mbabazi youths 'apologised' for mobilising against him and pledged to work for his re-election in 2016. But Luzindana told The Observer later that day, that they acted under pressure from the pro-Museveni youths.

He added that his group will continue pushing for internal democracy in the party. On Mbabazi's reported presidential bid, Museveni said that he had received some reports about it and was still investigating.

"You know I am patient and I am still waiting for the report," he told the youths.

The NRM youths agreed to hold their delegates' conference on July 25 at Namboole, and to convene four regional meetings to explain the Kyankwanzi resolutions to other youths. Meanwhile, Museveni summoned the youths again yesterday for a meeting at his country home in Rwakitura.

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