BBC’s News Day Co Host Allan Kasujja & Kivumbi Earnest Benjamin
Last Friday night 15th Jan 2016 I was humbled to receive International spotlight again after being interviewed by Reuters & SADC. The Giant media agencies posed me several questions regarding the concluded Presidential Debate that kicked off at 8:00pm and ended at midnight.
Before I can go with what I shared with the television crew if you have missed can access online; Let me share with you the background and key issues from the candidates who were followed by 17 million people watching and listening via TV, Radio and Internet around the world.
The Elders forum of Uganda and Inter Religious Council of Uganda invited me as the President of Heal The Planet Global Organisation_HTP and one of the outstanding politicians in Kampala.
The colorful event that saw 1000 dignitaries assembled at Serena Hotel Kampala started with a cocktail outside Victoria Conference Center former Nile Hotel. By 7 pm 7 of the 8 Presidential Aspirants had arrived and were ushered in by young good looking girls amidst tight security with hundreds of journalists covering them as they walked on along wide red carpet.
Initially I had anticipated seeing my President, leader of the most powerful nation in Africa on this Historical Debate ever since Uganda attained independence More than 50 years ago. For personal reasons I had wanted H. E Gen Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to attend for stance he is indeed a renown orator and highly knowledgeable in fact I describe him as a genius and a man with vast experience. He knows deeper and understands well the politics, security, economics and history of Uganda, the region and the entire continent since he has been in command for now 30 years. It was therefore quite a shaming as usual that Republicans have always had nothing good for Africa and have continued to use CNN to play their dirty politics against Africans by discrediting and abusing democratically elected leaders.
For those of you who didn’t follow the Cable News Network, there Friday night show on Uganda referred to our President “Dictator Museveni ‘Chickens’ out of historic Presidential Debate. Has nothing to Show after 30 years; Afraid of Debates.., Uganda Decides 2016.” This is total blackmail, malice, hatred, bias, childish and incompetence by the American News Agency and such defamatory statements constitute to legal action. CNN has nothing good for Uganda and Africans and I remember hours before outgoing US President Hussein Barack Obama landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in the Air force One; CNN had described Kenya as a hot potato bed in order to scare Obama from coming. I was in my Hotel room in Nairobi and I watched the news as Kenyan Minister retaliated heavily on CNN amidst social media outrage by Kenyans, CNN latter apologized and I think relieved duty of the editor in charge.
Why am I spending my time on CNN? CNN didn’t give Uganda coverage when Pope Francis visited the nation late last year yet when the Pontiff was in US-his visit was live coverage. It was Aljazeera that deployed its news crew in a chopper to cover land slide in Bududa Eastern Uganda that claimed more than 70 lives and more still CNN refused to tell the world what was happening in Rwanda as Rwandese were slaughtering each other close to 2 million of them perished in the famous 1994 genocide. This explains why I have written to African Heads of State to start a continental media to be our mouth piece Internationally in order to end the western Media biased coverage; depicting impoverished children under malnutrition with mucus and flies on them as if there’s nothing nice to show about Africa- shame upon CNN.
Back to my Presidential Debate; The 7 Presidential candidates that included PDP’s Dr. Abed Bwanika, Go Forward’s Former Premier John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, Eng Pastor Joseph Mabirizi, Major Gen Bilaro, FDC’s Col Dr. Walen Kizza Besigye Kifefe, Maureen Kyalya & Former Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof Vanencious Baryamuleba made a profound record of having stood on one platform and told the world what best they can do for Uganda given opportunity.
In his opening remarks Maj Gen Benon Bilaro said that a birth of a new nation was beginning that night and Mbabazi asked “Do you want change or more of the same?”
Facing tough moderators BBC’s News Day Co Host Allan Kasujja and KTN’s Nancy Kacungila, the Presidential Candidates engaged challenging questions that the candidates seemed not to have prepared for. Nevertheless people like Dr. Abed Bwanika, Dr. Kizza Besigye & Maureen Kyalya seemed more smarter and presidential materials to the rest. Mbabazi’s confidence and strong deep voice made him appear as if he is a president already, this is what gave Uhuru Kenyatta mileage against Raila Odinga in the Kenyan Presidential Debate, the guy simply acted like he was a president already thus winning the masses. Mbabazi also won credit knowing that spilling secrets in the name of a debate is not worthy. Those who watched him can prove me right on this especially when he ignored responding to oil agreements and another issue which I’m sure someone can now understand.
When he was challenged by Eng Mabirizi on gay question he simply said I’m not gay but he refused to answer whether he supports gay rights which I confronted him from the audience; answer the question, do you support gays?
Now this why Museveni won it by not coming to participate; Maureen complained of time inequality to candidates and the way I have been following the President-when he is explaining a point, H.E doesn’t want interruption or limited time. I have watched him on his foreign Press Interviews say with Steven Sacker of BBC Hard talk and others. We can’t also rule out the fact that as an incumbent, he doesn’t benefit instead can just lose points in the way I saw how he could have been embarrassed by the candidates or even the moderators. It only works for his challengers since they have chance to prove their potential to the people who haven’t known them before.
While talking to Reuters & SADC News Agencies mentined why Museveni remains a winner in this and also why Mbabazi was dodging the questions.
The next debate will be on 10th Feb 2015, 8 days prior to the elections. It will target regional issues, foreign policy, trade and others. Am sure I will bring you my own coverage & personal analysis.
Kivumbi Earnest Benjamin