KAMPALA, Uganda: Frank Tumwebaze, the Information and Communications Technology senior Minister caused untold excitement in August this year when he announced that government would provide free WIFI services in Kampala.
Tumwebaze said at the time that the free internet services would be provided at night—from 6pm to 6am. But then, the Minister has since the announcement not switched on the free services he promised the people of Kampala.
Was the pledge another of the lies from the establishment? What is really going on? Fortunately enough, Tumwebaze’s junior colleague, has come forward and volunteered possible answers amidst the government’s unexplained silence regarding the issue.
The cabinet minister breaking silence regarding the matter is the no-nonsense Aida Nantaba, the State Minister for ICT and in this case, Tumwebaze’s immediate junior. “My colleague was telling lies,” Nantaba announced to Ugandans vide a CBS Radio call-in-talk show interview on Friday December 9th.
Asked what makes her think Tumwebaze, the holder of Bachelor of Science in Education, was telling lies, Nantaba pointed out, “I asked him to show me the budget for the free internet services he was talking about. He has since failed to tell me the source of the funds he was going to use to provide the free internet services he promised to offer in Kampala.”
Nantaba, a professional tourism officer, then reveals how government lacks the budget to offer the promised free internet in Kampala. “I am in cabinet. I know what goes on in cabinet. I know that government has no money to provide free internet services. Take it from me; Tumwebaze was causing excitement for no good reason.”
She ended her interview with an advice that Ugandans should “forget about government providing free WIFI for the time being, for the money to do so is simply not there.” Asked why she was making such revelations in public seeing that such kind of talk can embarrass government, Nantaba did not offer apologies to anyone for spilling the beans.
“I stand for the truth. I can’t leave our people in a foolish sense of excitement,” she concluded the interview conducted by CBS’s political investigative journo Alex Nsubuga. Our separate efforts to reach Tumwebaze for a comment turned futile as he did not pick our repetitive calls. Nantaba is no stranger to controversy. She talks her minds and does what she feels is right regardless of the consequences…
While serving as the junior minister of lands, Nantaba took on politically well-connected individuals, including ministers, who were grabbing land of the poor. Even if the people she was accusing of grabbing land filed many lawsuits against her, Nantaba didn’t relent from speaking about the vice.
Not even when the courts of law ordered her to use her own funds to compensate those people who won cases against her. During the Presidential campaigns, she refused to campaign for her Party Candidate and incumbent President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, only to show her resentment over her his perceived soft spot for some ‘land grabbers.’
On the contrary, Nantaba was holding parallel rallies to that of the president in her Kayunga District where he continued with his petty project of denouncing land grabbers. May because Nantaba had caused a lot of problems for government during her tenure as junior lands minister, the president moved her to another ministry. But she continues with the campaign of lambasting land grabbers even when she is not the line minister. Little wonder that Nantaba has found the courage to attack Tumwebaze who is her senior in cabinet.