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Prime Minister Of Uganda | Nduggu Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda In a Boston Meet and Greet Session!

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Posted May 29, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Prime Minister's Visit - OPM ~ 15,193 views

     

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By Ronnie Mayanja — The Prime Minister of Uganda, Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, made a stop in Boston Tuesday, May 26th after attending the Bamasaba and Twegaite community conventions in Washington, DC and Minneapolis. The town-hall meeting held at the Boston Marriott Newton Hotel kicked off at around 7pm with a number of speeches. Mr. Wanda from New York introduced the Ugandan Ambassador who in turn introduced The Prime Minister of Uganda.

Prime Minister Rugunda (or Nduggu as he is commonly known) was quick to engage his audience,and his speech consisted of four main points:

Uganda is Now Peaceful.

Nduggu Rugunda reminded his audience of Uganda’s turbulent past and how Kony is now defeated and Northern Uganda largely peaceful. He was also quick to point to the defeat of Allied Democratic Front(ADF) a rebel outfit that had operated in the Rwenzori Mountains and the recent arrest of their leader, Jamil Mukulu, who was nabbed in Tanzania and now awaits extradition to Uganda to face trial.

He reminded those present not to take this peace for granted, citing the ongoing conflict in South Sudan with cities like Malakal changing hands several times in a conflict that has paralyzed the country and bankrupted the nation’s resources and oil infrastructure.

On Somalia he was happy to report that this nation is now at peace, in part due to the ongoing sacrifice of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces.(UPDF)  which have neutralized Al Shabaab, flushing them out of Mogadishu and the surrounding towns.

He then went on to assure those present that Uganda is peaceful, stable and making progress.

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Development of Infrastructure.

Nduggu Rugunda outlined the infrastructure improvements taking place in Uganda today. He mentioned that the Government of Uganda was focused on the construction of feeder roads to cover the entire country with the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) established to that end. Areas considered  inaccessible with longer travel times in the past are now easily within reach.

Following the discovery of Oil and Gas he shared government plans to construct an International Airport in Hoima to open up the region for trade and investment.  He reminded the gathering that in 1986 less than 40% of the national budget was funded by foreign aid but today that number stands at more than 80% government funded a sign of progress.

Self Reliance In The Power Sector

Nduggu then informed Bostonian community that Uganda was now working toward an independent power sector with Bujagali now operational and Karuma soon to join the grid as well, producing 600 megawatts of power. Other power stations now producing power included Kiira and Nalubaale Power Stations, Kayunga will produce 180 megawatts of power making use of a 2 billion dollar loan obtained from China. With the our help of our American friends Geothermal energy is another area that is slowly but steadily growing in Uganda.

He singled out the new multi million dollar standard gauge railway connecting with Mombasa is another project in the offing. Juba, Packwach, Rwanda, Eastern DRC and South Sudan will be interlinked, improving accessibility and trade within the region.

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Social Infrastructure

On the subject of social infrastructure, Mr. Rugunda noted in particular Education and Health, as the other key sectors that the Ugandan government is interested in improving.

He pointed to Universal Primary and Secondary Education as successful government programs, notwithstanding the ongoing teachers strike in many of the government-sponsored schools.

Another area where he credited the government was the loan scheme for students at Makerere University which enables students to acquire low-cost bursaries and loans to pay for their education.

Nduggu also underlined government commitment to establish and improve technical education to provide much needed skills for the country.

Thanks to the growing Information & Communication Technologies (ICT), Uganda has been able to produce students and experts that are now winning competitions and getting hired by IT companies like Google in the region.

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Healthcare

On healthcare Nduggu was quick to remind his audience that the government was focused on prevention of disease. He noted that there was a rise in some illnesses that are preventable. The number one killer among children and pregnant women in Uganda today is malaria, but mosquito nets when properly used can prevent the spread of the disease. He informed listenrs that working with NGOs the government had distributed free Mosquito nets to many Ugandans.

He acknowledged the lack of adequate medical facilities in the country. As an example, Mulago Hospital a national referral hospital meant to handle critical and urgent care cases, is now admitting all types of patients. It was this lack of medical facilities that prompted the government to expand healthcare services and reduce this congestion of patient services in the capital city. As a result, four hospitals have now been built to help ease the load on Mulago Hospital in Kampala District. These include Naguru Hospital, Kawempe Hospital, Kisenyi Hospital and, at a cost of about $15 million, Kiruddu Hospital whose construction is now underway.

He assured those present that the government had also borrowed $80 million from the African Development Bank to help rehabilitate and modernize the national Mulago Referral Hospital.

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He then went on to acknowledge Cancer as the new problem in Uganda today and treatment as a major concern for government. The Prime Minister was happy to report that a new cancer treatment center was opened by the President — The Hutchinson Cancer Center, funded by our friends in Seattle.

He noted that more is being done by government to improve healthcare facilities and as a result the land in Lubowa, formally owned by Mitchell Courts, would soon be the site of a new international hospital. He then praised the private sector, particularly Dr. Ben Mbonye of Nakasero Hospital and Dr. Ian Clarke at International Hospital Kampala (IHK) for their contribution in bridging the gap in the health sector.

Regarding HIV he noted that there were about 600,000 recorded new cases a spike in numbers largely attributed to the current lifetime of many Ugandans. However he was happy to report that mother to child transmission is now greatly curtailed due to retro-viral treatment centers.

As he concluded his remarks he informed his audience that President Museveni would visit Boston in September of this year!

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Question and Answer Session (Q&A)

Following his speech a Q&A session followed, with wide-ranging issues: Mbabazi’s sacking and the ongoing tension between JPAM and the President were raised, the continuous harassment of Political opponents, the National ID project and when the Diaspora will be registered, the Katosi road scandal and the wanton corruption, remittances and why Bank of Uganda diaspora bonds did not take off, high interest rates for borrowers from Uganda commercial banks, fake land titles on the market, the need to tame population growth through birth control, UNAA ongoing divisions, the need for a free and fair elections and the establishing of a Consulate General in Boston were among the highlights discussed.

Regarding the question of presidential succession, the Prime Minister’s opinion was carefully delivered–.bearing in mind where Uganda was in 1986 and the contribution made by President Museveni to liberate the country and considering that the President has not reached the legal age limit of 75 (yet some Presidents elsewhere are now 90 and still in power) Mr Rugunda said in his view — it was up to the people of Uganda to vote and determine the outcome of the next election.

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Overall it was a great exchange with Nduggu. On the Mbabazi story that appeared in the Weekly Observer a which cited the behind-the-scenes maneuvers to offer Mbabazi a VP slot in return for dropping his Presidential bid was flatly denied by the Prime Minister, who blamed the tabloid press. Asked about the social media rumor that the former Prime Minster faced imminent arrest, the Prime Minster reminded those present that no Ugandan was above the law if they engaged in activities that contravene the laws of the land but was quick to steer clear of the subject, saying he did not think and see why Mbabazi would be facing imminent arrest.

On the ongoing UNAA conflict the Prime Minister said he was not aware of the divisions but was quick to add that this past weekend he had attended two community conventions (Bamasaba and Twegaite) that seemed very well organised, productive and focused. In his view UNAA needed to emulate these community initiatives and supersede what these smaller community associations are doing given the numbers in UNAA.

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The other key take away was the question I asked why the government has never established a Consulate or appointed a Consular General for Boston yet the biggest concentration of Ugandans in North America resided in Boston a city regarded as a major hub for education and technology companies. Dr. Rugunda was quick to acknowledge this and assured me that he would follow up with cabinet to ensure that this is done.

At about 10pm after three hours, the town-hall meet came to a close. It was well received by those attending, though some community members chose to stay away, viewing the meeting as part of an NRM campaign strategy ahead of the 2016 general election to make inroads in Boston the strongest Diaspora constituency.


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

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