In a not so surprising twist of events, Uganda’s First Family has become the talk of the town due to their extravagant spending habits. It all started with a massive pre-birthday party thrown by the Office of the National Chairman (ONC) of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) for President Museveni. They managed to squeeze in some celebration for the heroes of the Katonga battle while they were at it – multitasking at its finest.
For those not in the know, the Katonga battle was a game-changer in the National Resistance Army’s (NRA) quest to make Mr. Museveni the President back in 1986. Fast forward to today, and there was no shortage of food, drinks, and entertainment at the weekend observance in the capital. It was a grand affair, drawing merrymakers from all walks of life.
President Museveni himself couldn’t help but praise the organizers, who, incidentally, happened to be his Kyambogo office under the NRM. Funny how that works out, considering there’s already a party secretariat on Kyadondo Road in Nakasero doing similar things. But why have one office when you can have two, right?
But wait, there’s more! Another birthday bash is in the works for the President, and it’s happening in the posh Kololo neighborhood. This time, artiste Emma Nsereko, better known as Munamasaka, will be launching his song titled “Museveni awooma.” Because nothing says “birthday celebration” like a catchy tune.
Now, about that upcoming birthday bash – it’s a joint effort between the musician and the NRM secretariat, or so the broadcast adverts claim. However, Mr. Richard Todwong, the NRM party secretary general, wants you to know they’re just guests, like everyone else. They’re not co-organizers or financiers, despite what you might hear on TV or radio. It’s all a big misunderstanding, really.
But let’s not forget the recent 50th wedding anniversary celebration for President Museveni and Ms. Janet Kataha. Their son, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, also threw some extravagant birthday parties last year, complete with political undertones. It seems like the First Family is on a roll when it comes to public celebrations of private events.
All this lavish partying among the First Family has raised eyebrows, especially among political opponents. People can’t help but wonder where all the money for these shindigs is coming from. When asked, Ms. Brenda Tibamwenda, the spokesperson of the ONC, said she had no idea and suggested that the story be omitted. How convenient!
And let’s not forget the taxpayer’s money. There’s a possibility it was thrown into the mix, although the exact amount and how it was used remain a mystery. Government employees flocked to these events, using official resources like cars and fuel meant for work. Senior army officers even showed up in uniform. It’s almost like a taxpayer-funded party, but shh, we didn’t say that.
But what’s all this extravagant partying doing to the country’s budget? Well, MP Ibrahim Ssemujju has done the math and pointed out that it’s costing quite a bit. The budget for State House and the Office of the President alone is a whopping Shs696 billion. Of that, Shs421 billion goes to State House, and Shs274 billion goes to the Office of the President. Analysts are scratching their heads, calling many of these expenditures duplicated and unnecessary.
Take, for instance, the 82 presidential advisors under the Office of the President who hardly get to advise the President. And let’s not forget the 27 senior presidential advisors who collectively cost Shs9 billion in annual salaries. Renting offices for some of them alone costs Shs6 billion. It’s almost like a never-ending game of spending.
With all this extravagance, it’s no wonder people are starting to question whether Uganda can really afford it. The World Bank’s freezing of approval for new loans over the Anti-Homosexuality Act has left the government scrambling for resources. And let’s not forget that Uganda has a mountain of debt to deal with. In fact, 60 percent of the government’s expected local revenue will go toward servicing that debt.
But fear not, the President’s spokesperson insists that there’s nothing to worry about. He says the President has always been modest and that the budget allocations are necessary to support the President’s functions. After all, these offices employ a lot of Ugandans, and they provide vital support for the President’s work – both at home and abroad.
So, there you have it – a tale of extravagant parties, questionable budget allocations, and a dash of political drama. It’s all in a day’s work for Uganda’s First Family.