I come, not to praise Tayebwa Thomas but to speak of what I know of the man.
I will start with what many of those who have interfaced with Hon Thomas Tayeebwa know him for–his generosity.
I have seen this side of him severally but I will mention a particular case that stands out. About two years ago, my mother church in Mbale asked me to lend a hand.
A middle-aged smart Christian lady needed help. She was blind and wanted to enrol in a special needs school for specialized learning, specifically how to use the braille machine and others.
We needed money to get her into school and buy basic equipment.
I couldn’t raise all the money. As I thought of who to contact for help, Hon Tayeebwa came to mind. I called him and he asked I meet him in two days for his contribution. He was categorical, “Don’t even mention to the beneficiary that I lent a hand.” Our good lady enrolled in school shortly after.
At his 10th Wedding Anniversary at the Sheraton Hotel, I watched recorded testimonies of dozens of young people who were thanking Hon Tayeebwa for changing their lives, most of whom he’d paid school fees or helped get bursaries. Several were studying in Israel courtesy of his support.
Hon Tayeebwa is generous to a fault. I have known him since the early 2000s when we met at university and were involved in the Makerere guild politics. He is ambitious but measured. He is business savvy but is not consumed by the cannibalism of capitalism. He flies but offers his wings for others to fly with him.
That’s why many who saw the video of an “Umeme employee” being caned at his site were taken aback. I immediately called Hon Tayeebwa to verify. He told me the gentleman lacked identification and he was recovering from a nasty experience of people previously coming to his site disguised as Umeme employees and taking advantage of his gullible workers to make off with construction materials.
Once bitten, twice shy. When the young man couldn’t identify himself and initial denials by Umeme of the fellow being their staff, what followed is the regrettable scene we saw.
There are questions about the veracity of the documents doing the rounds on social media especially the young man’s identity card. Obviously, they’re freshly issued. They are brand new. Also, its now unclear which exact Umeme sub-contractor he works for. Whether it was a maintenance company or one charged with studying meters and disconnecting them.
Did Hon Tayeebwa err? For whatever the young man’s sins, physical assault should never have happened. And Hon Tayeebwa has told me he regrets that action and is seeking pardon from the assaulted party. The rest are operational issues with Umeme that I guess they will resolve.
Are there people taking advantage of this, mainly for political reasons, to bring down Hon Tayeebwa? My suspicion is YES.
Hon Tayeebwa, just like all of us, is human. He will make mistakes. But let’s not use a single incident to harshly judge a man for whom we’ve known for other virtues for ages. We all have our moments of madness.
Would I still ask the people of Ruhinda North to vote him as MP come 2021 like I did recently? A resounding YES is the answer.
Wanyama – is the Senior Press Secretary to H.E President Yoweri Museveni