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Kato Lubwama: I can’t refuse Museveni cash

Kato Lubwama

In his short time in parliament so far, Paul Kato Lubwama, the  Lubaga South MP, has drawn harsh criticism for his open advocacy for a Shs 200m car grant for MPs and his love for cash gifts no matter the source.

In an interview on September 20, the comedian-turned-politician told SADAB KITATTA KAAYA that he would readily accept cash from Gen Salim Saleh or President Museveni because they shouldn’t eat alone.

Who is Kato Lubwama and what inspired him to join politics?

Kato Lubwama is a 46-year-old actor, film director and an MP. I was inspired by society to join politics and [I keep in touch] with the society. I started by pointing out a few [social] themes which I acted out in my [plays]; most of my plays are based on themes that affect [ordinary Ugandans], and I have been doing this for the last 20 or 30 years.

Your campaign slogan was tagged on promoting the social wellbeing of your electorate but going by your recent statements, are you still relevant to your campaign rhetoric?

Very much, very much, because my [campaign] slogan was kyuusa embeera, which literary means changing [one’s] lifestyle and wellbeing, and I have been doing that.

If you [go] to my constituency, I started many Saccos (savings and credit cooperatives), which are helping my people to develop themselves, to change their mindset [towards development].

You know, some of the people in Lubaga thought that they were born to be poor, but I am trying to change that mindset. I am giving my people new ideas, new lifestyles…the people that you hear criticizing me on Facebook are a small portion compared to the populace in my constituency.

Are you suggesting that the criticism on social media doesn’t bother you?

The people on social media are about 0.5 percent, and they don’t bother me at all, and [I will disprove them] in 2021 because I will win with 80 percent.

How do you look back at the plays you wrote and acted in the past based on social themes and your support for a big budget for MPs?

All those critical voices are ignorant…I only suggested that let’s be given Shs 200m for the cars; we are talking about second-hand cars because [ministers] are driving cars worth Shs 500m or Shs 400m. The suggestion is that if the government doesn’t want to buy us new cars because of the [big] number of MPs, let us go for the lowest, and that is Shs 200m.

It was simply a suggestion but people jumped on it and started abusing Kato Lubwama for a whole month, but I don’t mind about that because when I joined politics, I came prepared for such.

But in your view, is this heavy expenditure on MPs justifiable?

These are lawful entitlements to MPs. People must understand that being an MP comes with certain benefits that follow you. The benefits are well-documented, and it is not new because even in the 9th Parliament, people got cars, [and] I didn’t hear anybody shout at the top of their voice that what was being done was wrong.

It is normal [for MPs to be given cars], it has been the norm since the 7th Parliament, why do they want it to be different in the 10th Parliament?

Aren’t we seeing a clash of Kato Lubwama, the playwright who used theatre to speak out against excesses by leaders, and Kato Lubwama the MP?

No! There is no contradiction. I still fit in well because I am still doing the same things that I used to do; eating from the markets where I used to eat from, helping the people that I used to help.

The plays that I used to act are the same themes; I am even working on one. There is a new play called Abaseddekezi ku N tikko (fraudsters on top), it is a political satirical play.

But of late your statements don’t represent the Kato Lubwama of yesterday.

No, the Kato Lubwama of yesterday is the same as that of today. Maybe you don’t know yesterday’s Kato Lubwama. He is the one who stood up during the campaigns and declared that he won’t lead poor people. It is you people [from] outside Lubaga South who say that I abused my constituents.

There is nothing new I am saying, I have been making these statements for a while and the people of Lubaga South are not taking them in bad faith, and they are working hard so that we can defeat poverty.

But the public for whom you stage your plays extends beyond Lubaga South and it is the same that is agitated by your defence of an extravagant parliament?

I spoke about [a reality]. You cannot have a member of parliament driving a car of Shs 20m; respect MPs. The problem with Ugandans [is], they don’t want to hear the truth but the [cars for MPs] are provided for in the [government’s standing policy]. Don’t blame me, you blame the framers of the constitution who allocated emoluments to MPs.

I am just echoing it; I can’t be like a dumb person who came to parliament and can’t speak. So, they are targeting me for nothing. By the way, I am not being targeted because I speak in support of the car [grants] but for other political reasons…it is some stupid lunatics around Kampala who thought I couldn’t win the election [because] they felt that I was not fit to be an MP.

When I won, they said I would not swear in because I don’t know English, and that I wouldn’t say a word in parliament. But here I am in parliament contesting the small figure of Shs 150m they want to give MPs for cars. I am saying no! We didn’t come to parliament to suffer, and I am being honest because this is the [general sentiment] among MPs. We did not come here to suffer.

Are you a voice of some other MPs?

Definitely, other MPs fear but I don’t. There is no reason why I [should] fear because even during the campaigns, I told my people that because parliament doesn’t give MPs a lot of money, once they give us the money for cars, I will bring it and we chew it together, and my constituents know it.

Once I get the Shs 150m, I will take it to the Saccos which I [formed] and everything will be wow. Just recently, from the little salary I get, I saved for two months and bought 10 [motorcycles] worth Shs 37m and [youths] in my constituency are happy. They are now riding boda boda because I made a promise to them that we would work together, that I will eat some money and also give them some. I told them, it is not news in Lubaga South.

It is those people without MPs that waste time attacking Kato Lubwama, and they want to threaten me so that I don’t give money to my constituents. But let me tell them…baswadde (shame upon them).

What is your take on allegations that you are being bankrolled by Gen Salim Saleh?

Salim Saleh hasn’t given me money yet but if he wants to give me money, I will chew it. He hasn’t given me a coin, and I am looking for him to give me [money] if he can.

Does that mean that you are in talks with him?

No. It is a section of the public that is going around claiming that Salim Saleh gave me money. I am looking for that money that they accuse me of having taken, and if I get the chance, I will take that money and chew it with my constituents.

I am not shy about it because this money neither belongs to Saleh nor to President Museveni. The problem with Ugandans is that they have left Museveni to be in charge of all the money. He is now misusing it and eating it alone; I will not [allow] him to eat the money alone, I will shout at him, and if he can throw a sack of money at me, I will go and pick it and take it to my people in Lubaga.

Museveni giving me money or if I go and receive money from anybody in government [can’t influence] me to begin supporting Museveni. Everybody knows that we are tired of Museveni and I believe that this must be his last term, but before he goes, let him throw some money somewhere; for me I will go and pick it. With no doubt I will take it and distribute it and my people will be happy.

I am not a so intelligent politician, not like these educated ones who want to argue about everything even those that they don’t know.

What are you implying?

The problem with politicians in Uganda, they want to talk about everything, which is not the case with me. If I don’t know something [about the law], I will call [Muhammad] Nsereko and ask him.

I am not going to answer every question put to me if it is from an area I am not well conversant with. That is the problem with the people on Facebook; they want to comment about everything even when they lack information about it. But what I can assure you, I will not leave President Museveni to eat the money alone. That must be put straight; this country belongs to all of us.

Why should we leave Museveni to monopolize everything? From [state] power to banks and everything…Why? And when we get some money from government [some] people begin to shout… but this is our money. There is no problem if I get Shs 300m and give it to my constituents. You shouldn’t take me to the defiance [campaign] when I don’t want; I don’t want defiance and my people also don’t want it. My people are hungry, they need something to eat. Can you defy when you’re dead? [Kizza] Besigye will not take me to the streets of Kampala.

By the way, I am not poor and those that think Kato Lubwama is poor get it wrong. You cannot be poor when you are leasing an entire acre of land in Kampala, and own a theatre that sits 1,000 people. My home at Mutundwe sits on an acre of land, and I got it before coming to parliament. I also came in driving a V8 (Toyota Land Cruiser). People should stop treating me like someone who [was] so poor and stupid. They have to give me a break.

sadabkk@observer.ug  

This post was syndicated from Breaking and latest news, analysis, comments, business, lifestyle, entertainment and sports from Uganda. Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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