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Karuhanga: The young political turk

young turk.  At 28, Gerald Karuhanga has made himself a

name as a whistle blower on corruption. The young MP who is

a former Makerere University Guild President spoke to Edgar

R. Batte

What’s up honourable, how has your day sailed by?
Good, the my day has been good.

But you’re adjusting your tie, is it too hot?
Of course, Kampala is very hot.

You walk in the intricate corridors of power, is the political heat

as much as it is with today’s weather?
Most certainly because we are dealing with hot issues like

sacking ministers.

When has the heat hit the highest for you as a young

(Thinks deep)There have been many instances. I am trying to

think of which one has been hottest … I think the day we began

debating oil has been the hottest. It was extremely hot but also

very critical and important in the fight against corruption in this


And you were fanning the furnace and basically brought the

I wouldn’t say I brought the heat. There was heat already. May

be I added more gas and in this I am trying to be

environmentally friendly so I won’t say firewood.

Walk me through that day, how did you start and how you

sailed through it?
It was so normal. We were resuming Parliament and we did

some work to have it recalled. I was set and I was in the mood

for a serious debate. We had found out a lot of underlying

issues that had not been brought to the public attention

regarding the oil agreements so we wanted to expose these

issues and the individuals involved.
It was a day I brought out my passion. It was a hearty day.  It

gave me an opportunity to expose corrupt fellows. I had long

prayed that when I got the platform I would deal with corruption

in this country.

We are talking about big figures in government and almost

inevitably the threats followed on your life … did you at any one

time regret having blown the whistle on big shots?
No, not all. Even if I died, my body would not regret because

for me, that was the opportunity to spark off my long standing

dream of fighting corruption in our country.

What was the biggest threat made to you?
Colleagues told me that there was an orchestrated plan to

harm me, I don’t know to what extent and then blame it on oil


Have you shaken hands or exchanged courtesies with the

individuals implicated by your debate like Sam Kutesa or

Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi?
I greeted Mbabazi just the other day. We met at the

Parliament staff canteen. I would firmly shake Sam Kutesa’s

hand and smile if I met him. This is a matter of principle not a

do-or-die. Over the weekend, I met Prof. Khiddu Makubuya at

a supermarket and he tapped my shoulder and greeted me

but that won’t deter me from writing a strong report tomorrow if

he’s implicated.
I am just from a meeting which was chaired by Syda Bbumba

and at the end we were smiling but that was after quizzing her

at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). I remember she had

a number of handkerchiefs which she used to wipe her face

several times.

Politics is a fast race, how do you slow down?
I take a cup of tea like we are doing right now. I like meeting

friends. I have made it a habit to try and keep in touch with

friends so I don’t lose my social life.

You’re young and still agile, do you play any sports?
I jog for about five kilometres every day. Many people don’t

believe it but I find time. Back then I used to do 25 laps around

a football pitch very early in the morning but where I currently

reside there are none.

Do your hobbies stretch into music or clubbing like your

Yeah, once in a while I go to Club Silk or Ange Noir. It is

largely because of busikis (bachelor parties).

What kind of music gets you grooving?
Dancehall, it is music that you can dance to…

Who is your favourite artiste?
I knew that was coming. I love music but hardly care for who

sings it. I have lots of music in my car. I hope this won’t

discourage any potential Miss Rights who will read this.

Oh, you mean you’re still single and available?
Yes, I am.

How come?
It’s the timing. Many times I was busy with many things I had to

accomplish. Now I have time and I am looking forward to Miss

Some could be reading this and would be interested to know

which qualities the young honourable is looking out for in Miss

A simple, Godly person, a social person, somebody

receptive and hospitable, reasonably intelligent, fit and

averagely pretty. I am not looking for a Beyonce.

Beyonce is hot and gorgeous, are you afraid of hot girls?
Not at all, in fact like any other young man, I am attracted to


Surely, you’re young, famous and it would be hard to believe

there are no candidates hitting on you for their chance to win

your heart?
Girls hitting on me? (Laughs out hard) … I like good girls and

they can’t hit on me. The thing is good girls fear politicians

because they come with a lot of insecurities and I sympathise

with the girls honestly. I understand where they are coming

from on this issue. It is not the case all the time though; they

shouldn’t fear a young man.

Just in case someone would like to gauge their chances, tell

us about the kind of guy you are
I think I have most of the qualities that I have listed. I don’t want

to brag but if I am to talk about myself I will say that I am a very

simple person, passionate and robust. I go for what I believe

in. I am a person driven by conviction.

Yours is quite a busy career. If you were to put a percentage,

what fraction would you say your career takes from your time?
It eats a lot of my time, too much actually, may be about 75 per


What does it feel like being young and rattling feathers in the

political circles?
It is gratifying. I think it explains the conflict of generations. Why

should I be dealing with a minister who is 70-years-old? By

that age, he should be at home playing with grandchildren.
These guys should have left 15 years ago. I find myself

clashing with a generation I should be going to consult. The

rate the young generation is growing in terms of technology is

fast. The older guys are telling us to wait but we cannot afford

to wait for them. It’s their call to leave. It’s a call to the president

and his colleagues that after 2016 they have no business


Have you met the president?
Yeah, as Guild President of Makerere University I met him

over 10 times. We had several disagreements. Unfortunately,

the disagreements have continued up to today especially as

far as governance is concerned. My biggest disappointment

is the re-instatement of the term limits.

If you became president what would be your immediate to-do

To deal with every corrupt official in government from the

sweeper to the Vice President. My teachers would have to be

well paid and the lowest paid would earn Shs2m and that

would be a primary school teacher. My friends know my zero

tolerance when it comes to corruption and they know if

Karuhanga was to become president they would end up in jail.
I would then overhaul the education system so that it’s

relevant to the needs and technological global progress. We

can’t afford to be left behind as a country. Agriculture needs to

be developed. It hurts when I eat potato crisps made from

Kenya or South Africa. I don’t get it why we can’t do some of

these things.
I would ensure that every Ugandan has a land title. If you’re

talking about patriotism everyone should feel they have a

share of Uganda and be able to have security to borrow.
I would overhaul the health system and that goes with

infrastructure and then good remuneration of doctors. For me

a doctor should earn a minimum of Shs5m.
We have high electricity potential which I would harness and

then I would develop tourism. If we advertised a third of our

tourism we would be able so rich. Statistics have it that Tunisia

has an eighth of Uganda’s tourism potential but makes $12b

from its tourism. $12b is three times our budget, so we would

always have a surplus budget.

Your favourite quote on your Facebook page is ‘Every

person has potential to make a difference’, as a leader, what

big difference have you made so far?
So far I have been able to inspire the youth to take charge of

our country, after all if Uganda were a country we are the

majority shareholders. There is hope that we can.

What has been your turning point as a politician?
There are two. In Primary Four (P.4) my colleague chickened

out from chairing a debate. He came and whispered in my ear

and disappeared in thin air. I took the mantle and to my

surprise it was the best chaired debate our teacher had

attended in 10 years at the school, at Kitungu Primary School

in Ntungamo. That’s when I started thinking to myself that I

could lead people.
And when I got elected as guild president. These two

occasions founded my career for without them, I wouldn’t be

where I am today.

What highlights stood out for you during your reign as Guild

Two occasions, one was a huge conference at which we were

debating about the problems of Makerere University at

Colline Hotel in Mukono. I told the university administration

and professor Livingstone Lubobi (then Vice Chancellor) that

he was the problem of the university, together with the dean of

the Faculty of Education at the time, due to inefficiencies and

her facilities. I told her, God forbid, students would burn up the

faculty. Many people at the conference were beating about

the bush.
And  I also told President Mueveni, sincerely again, that I

could not see why he would not find Shs4b to Shs5b to

increase lecturers’ salaries yet he was giving Basajjabalaba

(businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba) Shs20b and then

Kananathan…he was dishing out money. He was very mad but

I had spoken my mind.

What car do you drive?
An old Land Cruiser. I would love a nice saloon car, but the

roads are terrible. As Western Uganda Youth MP, I represent

26 districts and I have to be there at least twice a month

What are your last words?
The future of this country belongs to us. No citizen should be

treated as an observer or a refugee or destitute in their own

country but that depends on the young generation’s

determination to change the status quo.

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