President Museveni yesterday said he will hand over power if defeated in the general elections next February, but not to people who do not have a mission or targets such as FDC presidential flag bearer Kizza Besigye.
Addressing journalists at Arua state lodge, the incumbent said he will not lack what to do if he is not president.
“I have got my job. I am a cattle keeper,” said the NRM presidential candidate, who is seeking a fifth elective term in office to take his total tenure as president to 35 years.
Museveni has previously said that he will not hand over power to anyone who has no vision of where the country should go. Yesterday, he dwelt on the same topic, saying he would not abandon Uganda to people without a mission.
“If these fellows like Besigye, if I was sure that they would have those targets, maybe I would say OK, let them continue. But they don’t have those targets. Even when I am in charge, you find them doing their own different things. So, how can I abandon Uganda to people who have no mission?” he asked.
Addressing a public rally in Kabale in January this year, Museveni described the opposition as “emishega” (wolves) whom he could not entrust with power.
But in Arua yesterday, the incumbent disputed the view that he is power hungry despite 30 years of power under his belt. Instead, he said that he is “mission hungry.”
“I am not looking for a job in politics. I am not looking for money. I am alright,” he said.
Museveni said he is working for the socio-economic transformation of Uganda, noting also that one of the missions he is yet to accomplish is the political federation of East Africa.
He said he could not abandon this unless the people say “we do not need your mission.”
Museveni further said he could not be intimidated by people who have no mission such as Dr Kizza Besigye, the FDC flag bearer and former prime minister, Amama Mbabazi, who is contesting as an independent candidate.
“In 2001 Besigye was saying Museveni agende when we had all these problems of Kony, [and] cattle rustling in Karamoja,” Museveni said.
The president also poured scorn on talk that he cannot win an election unless he rigs it. He said the fact that he has been losing in some sub-regions before such as Acholi and West Nile is evidence that elections are free and fair.
On whether he will retire in 2021 after hitting the constitutional age limit of 75 years, assuming he wins next year, Museveni was not emphatic. The president has previously rubbished talk that he might champion the amendment of the constitution to remove age-limits. Yesterday, he said he will follow what the Constitution stipulates, which essentially leaves a window wide open for such an amendment.
Reacting to Mbabazi’s demand that the report into the death of Brig Noble Mayombo be made public, Museveni said there was nothing to hide about the death of the former permanent secretary in the ministry of defence.
“The report is there and I have talked with the family about it. Mayombo died of natural causes…I don’t know if the family wants the report to be made public,” Museveni said.
Mbabazi, while campaigning in Fort Portal on November 17, absolved himself of any role in the death of Mayombo, who hailed from the area. Mbabazi told the people to put pressure on government to make the cause of Mayombo’s death public.
Museveni described Besigye’s promise of paying primary school teachers Shs 650,000 and secondary teachers Shs 1 million as “irresponsible.”
Besigye has made increasing salaries of teachers a central theme of his campaign. The president said if Besigye were to implement such a promise, it would push up the public wage bill and expose his talk of reducing public expenditure as hollow.
Museveni also said that it would mean that Besigye’s government would not undertake big infrastructure projects such as roads and power dams which benefit more people.
The press briefing came at the tail end of his tour of West Nile, where he has been since November 14. He generally received a warm reception from a sub-region, which has previously displayed significant opposition support.
But in parts of Yumbe town on November 18, there were signs that former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has been doing some ground work. Mbabazi’s posters are pasted next to those of Museveni while on some occasions, the president’s entourage encountered boda boda cyclists clad in T-shirts with the rival candidate’s photograph.
The president is today expected to start his tour of Acholi sub-region with rallies in Amuru and Nwoya districts before heading to Gulu tomorrow.