Government commits Shs 11bn to national dialogue

Government has agreed to fund the ongoing process for a national dialogue which intends to offer a platform for Ugandans of different political backgrounds to engage with the government on issues of national transformation that promote unity, shared prosperity and the common good.

According to the Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana, a budget of more than Shs 11 billion has already been drawn which when approved will be fully funded by the government for the Uganda national dialogue process to kick off in June.

Rukutana was speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the ongoing two-day retreat for the dialogue’s coordinating team at Imperial Botanical hotel in Entebbe.

The national dialogue is a brainchild of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) working with the elders’ council and women situation room following the chaotic 2016 general elections that led to the arrest and incarceration of the former presidential candidate, Dr. Kizza Besigye after he declared himself the winner of the elections.

Investment minister, Evelyn Anite (R) and Ms Dorothy Kisaka the advisor in the Prime Ministers office during the retreat.

“After the 2016 elections, we went to see Besigye; he was so bitter but we managed to convince him to sit and talk, we also engaged President Museveni, and some people thought that we should do political negotiations but we said no, we said, we should instead make it public; it should be a dialogue,” said Bishop Joshua Lwere, the head of National Alliance of Pentecostal and Evangelical Churches in Uganda.

Bp Joshua Lwere, speaking during the retreat at Entebbe.

According to the Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Shaban Ramathan Mubaje, the retreat is part of the process that leads into the third phase of the dialogue process which will among other tasks involve the establishment of an independent secretariat to provide technical and logistical support to the dialogue process.

“The hope of many Ugandans both at home and abroad is that this process will restore a sense of fresh love for the country and concern for its destiny, tackle political paralysis caused by a culture of polarization and marginalization, explore ways of building an economy that works for everyone,” Mubaje said.

Grand Muft of Uganda Sheik Shaban Mubaje giving his remarks at the Uganda National Dialogue Conveners retreat in Entebbe.

In his keynote address, Prof Fredrick Ssempebwa who chaired the 2003 Constitutional Review Commission advised government not to rush into amending the constitution without incorporating views from the national dialogue.

“If there’s no genuine rush, a comprehensive review of the Constitution should wait; and be based on the (outcome) of this dialogue,” Prof Ssempebwa said.