There were earlier fears that the debate wouldn’t go on as scheduled when some candidates including the incumbent, Yoweri Museveni pulled out.
However, it finally took place as planned with seven out of the eight candidates participating.
Even though each candidate has his or her own manifesto, we learnt that candidates agree on some issues.
One of such is increasing funding to the agriculture sector. Farmer’s Party candidate, Rtd Gen, Benon Biraro says this country was built by farmers. “However, many industries that helped agriculture have collapsed. I intend to go back. By independence we had training colleges, agro-processing industries et al….they are not working now.”
He talks of the Maputo Declaration that seeks to allocate 10% budget to farmers.
“I have earmarked Shs3 trillion for agriculture so that every district in Uganda is an export zone.” Biraro says that while still in government, “we created ‘Local Investments For Transformations’ that seeks to mobilize $3Bn internally to invest in youth investment. I took it to the president….. he said it was a good idea. (But) It took him seven years to return my calls (on above).”
The idea will be achieved by turning districts into economic units.
“Our districts are political, not economic units. Zoning will ensure that every district becomes an economic unit.”
He adds that farmers are given 2, 3 chicken, trees etc and you ask yourself, “when will Isingiro develop?”
On army involvements in NAADS, “I cannot imagine if we had problems in defence we would take farmers there.”
Like Biraro, candidate Abed Bwanika also believes heavy investment in agriculture is the key to Uganda’s success.
Bwanika vows to place a tractor at sub-county levels and give two ploughing equipment per family.
“In agriculture, the problem is productivity and marketing. In Teso the zebu animals are the size of a goat from SA. We need to import proper better breeds and to ensure security for these animals – animals chipped to be traced even when in Sudan.”
Go Forward candidate, Amama Mbabazi says that a government must be organized and should create a framework for sustainable production. And he is to use a sub-county model to develop the country.
“It (sub-county model) is achievable. We want to turn every sub-county into a hub of development and transformation. We need innovation and experience. We need accelerated not steady progress…….and my government will do it.”
FDC candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye says we need to put money where our people are.
“Most critical is agriculture which is most starved. We need to make it (agriculture) an engine of the economy. There is a big mismatch in regards to what we need. Leaders wake up and commit billions to buying hoes.”
On her part, candidate Maureen Kyalya says she is to make sure that there is equality everywhere, not only between regions but between genders as well.
“We need to get to equality issues. Go to the other side of the Nile if you want to find children without shoes, studying outside. And if you want to see children studying under good buildings, cross to the other side of the Nile,” she says.
“Women are Ugandans. We are not entitled to any property, wealth and not even the children that we bear. Why pay Shs20 million to participate in an election?”
Kyalya says women have been marginalised for a very long time. On women who have ever been appointed to bigger offices, “they are dummies, just appointed! Kadaga should have been standing here, she was crushed!”
She vows to fight inequality once elected into power and she is to give education alot of attention as the vehicle to deliver equality.
“Grounding of a child is very important. Education is not about passing exams. The educated only have theories, no skills at all. I will focus on that.”
Still on Education, candidate Baryamureeba says he is to start up a loan scheme for students. “University students must be supported with loans. Loans remains loans, students pay when they start working. We need fix it from bottom up.”
Amama says he has the key to good education. “86% of our children this week failed to get a grade because of the quality of education. Situation is so bad, we need change. Leadership at presidential level is about envisioning to reach a desired destination. I come with those road maps.”
Bwanika says there is a need to reduce on the time a child spends at school. He says he is to build government secondary & tertiary schools at every sub-county. He says the money to fund the project will come through slashing on the big cabinet.
“We cannot afford a huge cabinet; Their expenses can pay 100 teachers.”
Biraro plans to skill young people. “It’s not a problem now (having many youths). We would be worried if it were the old. “The key is skilling; that’s where the problem is. We need to develop talent. Messi, Ronaldo and Yaya Toure’s one week salary can pay salary for our cabinet for five months.”
Meanwhile, all candidates are committed to restoration of term limits if elected presidents.