Agriculture Ministers Attribute Loss to Desert Locust Propaganda

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Agriculture Ministers have attributed their loss in the January general elections to propaganda over their intervention in the Desert Locusts. The head of the docket, Vincent Sssempijja lost to National Unity Platform- NUP party candidate Francis Katabaazi in the Kalungu East County parliamentary race.

Ssempijja who was seeking re-election for the third term first attributed his loss to intrigue, use of dishonest agents and performance in the sector he led. Beaten with a vote difference of 1,333, Ssempijja sought a vote recount. However, the Masaka Chief Magistrate’s Court dismissed the application citing damaged seals on some of the ballot boxes.  

On Friday, Ssempijja and his junior minister, Henry Aggrey Bagiire told local leaders drawn from Acholi, Elgon, Lango, Karamoja and Teso regions that they suffered rejection because of the alleged mismanagement of money for the desert locusts. Although the Auditor General implicate any officials in the ministry, the ministers say the allegations and smear campaign by their opponents turned voters against them.

Bagiire, who first took to the podium at Soroti Flying School grounds told local leaders that he survived narrowly from the smear campaigns from his opponents. Bagiire retained his seat after beating NUP’s Mustapha Bidi with a difference of 7,745 votes for the Bunya County West parliamentary seat.  He, however, says that the race was tight and hot as voters demanded huge sums of money.

Ssempijja, who spoke after Bagiire said that they suffered the wrath of the voters when some of his opponents spread lies about the alleged theft of money from desert locust interventions. He noted that even after being cleared by the auditor general, there was nothing much left to save him.

Information from Bunya County West and Kalungu East constituencies indicates that the opponents rode on the desert locust funds just to frustrate the ministers. They reportedly printed posters containing details of procurement for desert locust chemicals worth billions of Shillings, something that prompted voters to demand money.

“‘Tuwe sente ze’nzige’ literally meaning give us money for desert locusts- were the order of the day whenever the minister, Bagiire went around campaigning. Some of his agents also hiked rates for meetings with the minister. “But I think that he also brought it to himself when he started campaigns with three brand new double cabin vehicles”, our reporter in Busoga region said.

The two ministers were receiving donation worth UGX 40 Billion from the FAO and JICA that is meant to fight the anticipated second wave of desert locusts in the country.