Kasese. President Museveni has asked the different religious institutions in Uganda to play a role in the building of the economy through turning the believers into wealth creators.
The President made the appeal while presiding over as chief guest at the fundraising dinner for the competition of the St Paul’s Cathedral, the seat of the South Rwenzori Diocese in Kasese Town.
The dinner at which organisers targeted to raise Shs571m was held at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Saturday.
Mr Museveni said the clergy need to encourage the Christians to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ in the parable of the talents so that they multiply their wealth like the servant, who multiplied the talents left behind by the master.
“In the church today, people need to follow Christ’s teaching in the parable of the talents. The one who multiplied the talents was rewarded. In Genesis, we are told to multiply and subdue the world. People are doing well in multiplying and filling the earth but what we are not doing well is having dominion over earth,” the President said.
He said the construction of the Cathedral should not have taken 27 years if the Christians had wealth to support their families and the church.
The president pledged Shs200m of which he delivered Shs30m in cash. He also pledged to donate a brand new car to Bishop Jackson Thembo Nzerebende to replace the one he gave him in 2009. About Shs500m was raised in cash and pledges during the dinner.
Archbishop of the Church of Uganda Stanley Ntagali challenged Christians to take church construction work serious because a place of worship needs to look good for the glory of God. “An individual builds a big mansion in a short time while the church of God takes so long despite having very many Christians contributing. That should change,” the Archbishop said.
Bishop Nzerebende, the host, said his diocese wants to reduce dependence on Sunday collections by setting up income generating projects to support the development of the ministry.
He said the church on top of several other projects, is about to complete the Shepherd House, a commercial building in the heart of Kasese Town which still requires Shs600m.
Bishop Nzerebende also said when completed, the 2,500 seater at St Paul’s Cathedral on Kamaiba Hill in Kasese Town will also boost tourism in the Rwenzori sub-region.
Mr Samson Bagonza, the engineer-in-Chief, ministry of Works and Transport, who chairs the South Rwenzori Diocese Kampala resource mobilisation committee said the Cathedral construction has been on since 1992 and there is hope that Saturday’s fundraising will be the last one.
None of the six members of Parliament hailing from Kasese were at the dinner. However, Rwenzururu Kingdom was represented by Mr Gad Mbayahi, the chairman of the Prime Ministerial Commission.
The table set for the MPs was only occupied by Government Chief Whip Ms Ruth Nankabirwa and Luweero Woman MP Lilian Nakate.
When contacted, the Kasese MPs both members of the Forum for Democratic Change, who sent a cash contribution of Shs10m gave reasons as to why they missed the fundraising dinner.
Woman MP Winfred Kiiza said there was no need to use a church function to pretend that they are working with Mr Museveni who has continued to put King Mumbere under house arrest and detaining about 200 others in Kirinya prison.
“We contributed and we will continue to do so whenever any church in Kasese is raising funds. But there was no need to pretend when it comes to church issues. Kasese is no longer an issue to Mr Museveni. No need for double standards by dining with someone who continues to incarcerate our people,” Ms Kiiza said.
The Kasese Municipality MP, Mr Robert Centenary said yesterday that as a patron of boda boda riders in his constituency, he needed to attend their meeting with Gen Salim Saleh, the chief coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation.
His Busongora North counterpart, Mr William Nzoghu said, he was attending to his step mother who had been amputated at Kilembe Mines hospital in Kasese.
“Yesterday, I rushed to Kilembe hospital where my step mother is in critical condition. She was operated on. I communicated to Engineer Bagonza (Organising Committee Chair) about the emergency,” Mr Nzoghu said.
Other MPs, Mr Harold Tony of Bukonzo East, Mr Godfrey Atkins Katusabe of Bukonzo West and Mr Jackson Mbaju of Busongora South were not available for a comment as their known telephone contacts were not available by press time.