By Ambrose Kweronda
The Priest of Kitanga Parish in Kabale Diocese Rev. Fr. Gaetano Batanyenda has broken silence on allegations that he defected back to the NRM after he was pictured donning a yellow Shirt with a Portrait of President Museveni
A renowned critique of President Museveni, Fr. Gaetano who is also the Vice Chairperson of Kick Corruption out Uganda – KICK U was responding to a news article in which one of the local media publications questioned his relationship with the ruling NRM party.
Fr. Gaetano said that he got the shirt during the presidential Campaigns in the 2001 elections in which Museveni emerged a winner.
“First of all, I have never left the NRM, I bought that Shirt before the election that handed Museveni his second term as president of Uganda in 2001 and I was one of his chief mobilizers,” he said.
However, Fr. Gaetano noted that it was the period when “Museveni was still sober,” and had not tampered with the constitution to remove term limits that would stop him from contesting again as president after expiration of his second term.
Fr. Gaetano who is one of the members of the famous Constituent Assembly that drafted the 1995 constitution says the removal of term limits to favor Museveni was the beginning of Uganda’s problem and the common debate on “Overstaying in power”.
While members of the 1995 Constituent Assembly were voted for, Fr. Gaetano was handpicked by Museveni. He says in those days he was a political mobilizer and friend to the president and some bush war veterans who were vital in the capture of power by the NRA in 1986.
Fr.Gaetano said that he was also friends to the core group of Museveni’s advisers from Kigezi Region including Former Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi and his successor Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.
“Museveni picked me on merit and it was not accidental I worked for it,” he said.
“He came to my home in 2000 and had lunch with me, I took him out of the house and asked him to remain true to his people and after that, I prayed a blessing for him,” he said.
However, Fr. Gaetano says he now feels betrayed by the man he thought was the best of all presidents that have ruled Uganda since the country gained independence in 1962 and he said Museveni had not only removed the term limits but also the age limits from the constitution.
That was a sign of selfishness and betrayal to people who designed the supreme law of Uganda.
“When he looked at the constitution, Museveni said it was the best book of laws he had ever seen and he promised to uphold and protect it. But look at what he has done today. Changing the constitution to suit his interests!,” he lamented.
Nevertheless, the priest said that he has never stopped loving Museveni and neither parted ways with NRM party even though most people attach him to the opposition.
Geatano said that he still loves Museveni like it was in the early days despite the betrayal. He also says he sympathizes with Museveni, describing him as a person experiencing a nightmare, whose group of close friends has refused to help but instead praise his mistakes.
“I love Museveni as an individual, but I hate his mode of operation. All these years I have been praying for him to wake up from the nightmare. But unfortunately, there are people who claim that they love him more than I do, and they have constantly tagged me as an opposition Activist whenever they hear me talk about my old friend,” he said.
About, the shirt, Fr. Gaetano said that he still keeps it, and once in a while he feels like wearing it to express undiluted love for President Museveni and the NRM party.