President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has this afternoon met and held discussions with leaders from Kabarole led by the Minister of Tourism, Hon. Col. Tom Butime, and the Bishop of Fort Portal Diocese, Rt. Rev. Robert Muhiirwa.

The meeting took place at the President’s country home in Rwakitura, Kiruhura District.

President Museveni and the delegation from Kabarole discussed the upcoming Uganda Martyrs day celebrations to be held on June 3, 2022 and other issues concerning the Diocese.

The Uganda Episcopal Conference selected Fort Portal Diocese to spearhead the preparations for this year’s Martyrs Day. Fort portal Diocese last led the celebrations 25 years Ago.

According to Bishop Muhiirwa, the Diocese came up with a working budget of approximately one billion shillings to prepare for the celebrations.

“As a custom, the celebration of this noble event is preceded by numerous preparations with spiritual and material mobilisation. Due to the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, we received the communication about leading the Martyrs Day celebrations late. So, Your Excellency, we need your support,” Muhiirwa said.

The other pertinent issue, he said, was the cathedral’s roof, which requires renovation. He added that the roof of the cathedral has in the last two years developed serious leakages that it can no longer be used during rainy season.

“Whereas the entire community was mobilised to support this campaign, the two billion shillings required to renovate the roof cannot be raised easily moreover, with the current effects of the pandemic,” Bishop Muhiirwa appealed.

Speaking to the delegation and responding to their concerns, President Museveni pledged one billion shillings towards preparations for Martyrs Day and roofing of the cathedral.

“I am going to give you one billion shillings for the two, i.e. the cathedral roof and Martyrs day preparations,” he said.

Addressing their concern of enabling them grow more tea and coffee in the area, President Museveni promised to buy for them three tractors and one truck so that they can mobilise people to enter into the money economy.

“The tractors, I will give you three and one lorry. Please, now focus more on mobilising your people to move from subsistence farming to modern ways of creating wealth,” the President said.

Hon. Col. Butime, revealed that Namugongo Catholic and Protestant shrines are big tourist sites that need support and promotion to be able to attract both local, regional and international tourists.

“Thank you for accepting to host us here at your country home in Rwakitura. As the minister of tourism, Namugongo church is a big project for tourism. The last two years we have not been there. Now that you have opened, people are come in big numbers. It’s faith- based tourism that will need to support,” Hon. Butime said.

Butime revealed that these places have the potential to compete with places like Vatican and Mecca if they are supported and promoted well.

Bishop Muhiirwa took this opportunity to invite President Museveni be the Chief Guest for this year’s Martyrs Day celebration at Namugongo, which invitation the President accepted.

The Bishop commended the President and the Government for the tremendous programmes aimed at helping Ugandans improve their household incomes, like the Emyooga programme and Parish Development Model (PDM).

“Mr. President, the Emyooga program that has been running as well as the Parish Development Model that was launched this year in February are so much crucial to halt and reverse the trend of poverty and to help Uganda become united, caring and a democratic society committed to making the basic needs affordable,” Bishop Muhiirwa said.

He added: “As a Diocese, we are fully in support of all these Programs. I wish to use this opportunity to thank you for your leadership as you continue to transform Uganda from a Low-Income country to Middle-Income status. Fort Portal Diocese has been keenly following and participating in your development plans,” Bishop Muhiirwa told the President.

The meeting was attended by Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Hon. Tom Butime, the MP Fort Portal West Division, Hon. Alex Ruhunda and Monsignor Isaiah Mayombo among others.