Uganda: Ssewungu Hits Back At Govt Over Remarks Against Church

25 January 2021

By AL-MAHDI SSENKABIRWA

Kalungu West MP Joseph Gonzaga Ssewungu has castigated the Minister for Presidency, Ms Esther Mbayo, and Mr Vincent Ssempijja, the Minister of Agriculture, for tagging National Resistance Movement (NRM)'s dismal performance in Buganda Sub-region during the January 14 elections to the Catholic Church and Buganda Kingdom.

Mr Ssewungu said the ministers are simply using the Church as a scapegoat to cover up the government's failure to deliver services in the sub-region.

He said priests have been giving platform to the ministers to ask for votes and it is unfair to blame their loss on the Church.

"Let them (ministers) go slow on the Church. These priests you see here can recite their rosaries and you just see the NRM government crumbling," he said during the burial of Bishop Emeritus of Masaka Diocese, John Baptist Kaggwa, at Bukalasa Minor Seminary cemetery on Saturday.

In the recently concluded presidential and parliamentary polls, President Museveni lost to the National Unity Platform (NUP) party candidate, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, who got 1,453,535 votes in Buganda region. Mr Museveni got 838,858 votes

This is the first time since the first direct elections of 1996 and the return to political pluralism in 2006 that Mr Museveni was beaten in Buganda.

At least 10 ministers and 24 members of Cabinet including Vice President Edward Ssekandi lost their parliamentary seats.

Both Ms Mbayo and Mr Ssempijja have since blamed this loss on the Catholic Church and Buganda Kingdom which they claim were decampaigning government in favour of the Opposition.

According to Mr Ssempijja, who lost the Kalungu East MP seat to new comer Francis Katabaazi of NUP, a senior priest picked a ballot paper and started demonstrating to the voters at the polling station how and who to tick among the presidential and parliamentary candidates.

Bishop Kaggwa's burial

Bishop Kaggwa, 78, died on Wednesday at Mulago National Referral Hospital where he had been admitted after contracting Covid-19.

Mityana Diocesan Bishop and chairperson of Uganda Episcopal Conference Bishop Joseph Antony Zziwa, who led the Mass, described the deceased as a very humble, jolly and nice servant of God.

He said while still serving as rector of Ggaba National Major Seminary in Kampala, Bishop Kaggwa could drive a truck and go to Masaka to get matooke and firewood for the seminarians.

"Bishop Kaggwa has assiduously served the Church with love. He has trained many priests, opened up many parishes in Masaka Diocese and built many schools which have contributed to the development of this area," he said

Masaka Diocesan Bishop Serverus Jjumba asked Christians to forgive the late Bishop in case he annoyed them in any way. He said Bishop Kaggwa was a highly devoted and intelligent servant who wholeheartedly loved his priestly vocation.

"He has been a priest both in and out of the church ; he had those virtues and values which are good for others to emulate; a very organised person who was dedicated to serve the Lord ," he said, adding: " He acted as a parent to us and his words have made us grow spiritually and intellectually."

No representative from government attended the burial.

Buganda Kingdom Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga said the late prelate was a strong pillar in the development of Buganda Kingdom.

He said when the kingdom-owned CBS Radio was switched off following the 2009 infamous Buganda Riots, Bishop Kaggwa was among the people who asked the government to reopen the radio station .

"You all remember the contribution Bishop Kaggwa made to have CBS Radio back on air and we shall always remember him for that and many other good things he did for humanity," he said.

The prelate will be remembered for promoting social-economic development and for his views on governance and political issues.

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