Museveni Defends Brown Envelopes

Museveni hands an envelop to 3 year old Boris Akanyijuka in Kabale in January

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President Yoweri Museveni climaxed the Thursday State of the Nation Address on a high note, physician making a strong case for the practice of handing out brown envelopes to voters.

Museveni has often been criticized by majorly opposition politicians and civil society organizations of dishing out state funds to the citizens, pills something the opposition regards as another form of bribery.

As the country strides closer to the next year’s elections, pressures are already mounting on especially incumbent politicians seeking reelection, who among other tricks must consider the brown envelope, if they have to amass enough support from the electorate.

Museveni said handing out brown envelope was a wrong practice, but when accosted by opposition MPs on whether he is walking the talk, he said he does hand out envelopes because he is President.

“My sister Cicila Ogwal, [Oppostion Chief Whip] here is saying that I am the one who has brought the bad culture by giving out envelopes. But I am president, you are not president…,” said the Museveni as the house exploded in laughter.

“Those envelopes, I really find it difficult.  I am a president, and I live in Kampala. I come once in the rural area. The people will not see me for another five years,” he argued.

“And according to most of those people’s cultures, I am a Madit [a big person in Acholi]. I have to give them something.”

Museveni asked the legislators not to burden themselves trying to find money to hand out to the electorate, noting that their role should be to ‘show the way and not to carry the population on their shoulders.”

“Let the leaders show the way. Instead of trying to lead, most of you are trying to carry the population on your head. This is a problem; you should not be carrying the people; they should be carrying you.”

“If the [voters] ask you for money you should tell them  ‘I am not President, I can’t give you much.’”

But as the house heckled on Museveni hastened to clarify, “Of course there must be a limit but… ok we shall discuss it. Our democracy is still developing; we can discuss how to reduce these pressures on these leaders.”

Meseveni’s remarks come amidst calls from opposition leaders for restriction on the use of state resources by the President during election campaigns.

This is entailed in the set of election reform proposals they are pushing to be passed, ahead of next year’s elections.

Like we earlier predicted, President Museveni deliberately avoided this topic, saying that “matters concerning politics should be handled in accordance with constitutional provisions.”

Museveni has previously defended the brown envelopes saying it is part of his responsibility to support communities.

He said last year that because of inefficient elected leaders, he has had to personally undertake various development projects at the village level, to provide an example.





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