Ethics and integrity state minister Fr. Simon Lokodo has of late been making controversial statements in the media. Umaru Kashaka had a chat with him and below are excerpts.
You recently said you would take free condoms out of hotel toilets because they encourage promiscuity, but are you not undermining the government campaign of distributing condoms to reduce on new HIV infections?
No, on the contrary I am in support of government. The government principle is ABC; abstinence, being faithful and condoms.
So, in reality what government is saying is, at all cost try to abstain.
Two, be faithful because if you remain with a consistent partner the likelihood of you catching the virus is very narrow.
Now in the event that you are in a situation where you can’t help because of your weakness as a person, that your character can’t be restrained from that tendency, then use condoms.
But what people have done is twisting things altogether.
It becomes condoms; if you can’t use condoms then abstain. If you can’t abstain, then be faithful.
That is what I am condemning. It’s like saying ‘now condoms are here go and have sex after all you are safe, yet you very well know that condoms are not even 100% or airtight, free from transmitting HIV/AIDs.
You are actually destroying the moral fiber of the country.
We are saying condom is only a last resort, but not an initiated action by itself. It’s only used when you are found in an awkward situation.
Why do you want to take condoms to Parliament? All the loos of Parliament are full of condoms.
Why? These are mature people we should know how to refrain from acts that are immoral.
Then these are people who are married, they have got their own partners. Why should they get condoms?
To do what with them and with who? It means then we are even spoiling the image of the institution of legislation where there should be more modesty, more stability and surety that people are behaving as expected of them.
So are you also going to remove them from Parliament?
I may not be able to remove them, but certainly I will continue to advocate against having condoms in Parliament.
You recently called on the Police to raid guesthouses used for “lunchtime sex” by office workers and arrest their owners, but there are people who are wondering if such a clampdown would be the best use of police time?
What I have discouraged is reducing the life of a person to sex activity only, so that one leaves office using that specified time of rest to go and have a meal for refreshment, etcetera and it becomes a moment for going to do other things.
So my point is one, the laws are very clear, the Penal Code is very clear, prostitution is criminal and therefore those who do it, they can do it at that time I know with prostitutes or simply persons they have lured and they are going to pay them or seek some advantages in that sense.
So we are condemning that and since it is something contrary to the laws of this country, the police are the instituted enforcers of the laws, so they will go comb these places if you are found you are taken to courts of law.
But some people say you shouldn’t interfere in people’s private lives?
What is private life? If you kill people in your house are you going to be allowed to continue? No. everything is always in the open, even what you do in the dark is going to be known tomorrow.
In any case you are free to do anything so long you don’t infringe on the freedom of others and you don’t use your freedom to humiliate, degrade and to use others as tools of your satisfaction.
This one is not acceptable.
What is your comment on the recently tabled Non-Government Organisation (NGO) Bill, 2015?
The Bill is going to help us when enacted into law to harmonise the activities of NGOs with government programmes and activities.
Two, it’s going to check and balance the targets, the missions and visions of some NGOs so that they are all consonant and in resounding targets which don’t contradict government policies.
There are some NGOs unfortunately who are here under camouflage of being humanitarian.
They come with the spirit of “we are coming to help people here because they are poor, because they are sick and they can’t afford this, to help people understand their rights and privileges”.
Good things at the very forefront, but when they go to the field, we see other wrong colours.
We have known of NGOs who come in the guise of humanitarian and help in social services, but at the end of the day they want to promote cultures that are foreign to Uganda for example homosexuality and lesbianism.
This one we can’t accept because we are a sovereign nation and therefore we are respected to live the way we want and the way we know.
We also cautioned some NGOs who inject into their wrong activities which are not sanctioned by respective ministries. For example an NGO goes there and starts teaching children of four years reproductive health. What can a child of four years do?
That is a taboo in Uganda. We start talking about reproductive health after puberty when the child begins to develop the organs for reproduction. But you do that to the small child; innocent, ignorant and completely unprepared to hear such things. You are spoiling them.
Why don’t you want to meet sex workers and chart away forward?
I am ready to listen to everybody, but please if a sex worker wants to be listened to, first of all she should remove the tag of being called a sex worker.
Say you are a human being, a Ugandan unfortunately who landed in this behaviour which now you want to explain, not hearing the sense of justification, but to be able to get a way out.
There I can talk, but if you can with all the audacity and zeal, no. That means you are already set.
So the reason why I am not confortable to deal directly with such people is because they have stubbornly gone ahead to praise their status as if it is honourable to be called, a prostitute, a sex worker. No, I can’t accept that.
But do you believe one day Uganda will get rid of sex workers?
Well that is my target; at least let’s curb this trade.
Let’s clean the place of this negative exposure. I know this trade has been here for a long time, but please you can’t just soil the whole image of the country by putting such people on the streets.
For example dignified guests stay at Imperial Royale, Serena and Sheraton hotels and that is the image you show them. They will say prostitution is the order of the day.
In Europe it is legalised but then there is what we call green or red light cities, not everywhere.
So probably we shall also move there and say ‘please those who want to use them (sex workers) but of course without our knowledge they can go ahead, but not anywhere on the streets of Kampala.
Prostitutes are in the supermarkets, in homestead, in social areas, no. This is selling negatively the image of the country.
But how ethical is lying? Because you blundered when you lied at a press conference that you had arrested singer Desire Luzinda’s ex-boyfriend, Franklin Emoubor.
Blunder? No, because I always pronounce myself after having made some inquiries and I am not the one who takes conclusions.
To err is human, so I had got reliable information through our network that actually this guy (Franklin) had been apprehended and when it turned out not be true I actually said ‘yes I withdraw my statement, but in context of anybody who does that be sure the law will catch up with you’.
In other words it remains very clear in the minds of the people that even if Franklin has been at large nobody in Uganda will remain in Uganda at large if he or she does what Franklin did to Desire.
There are justifiable blunders because they emanate from a plan, a set up process.
In my case I didn’t just jump out in the air and say, ‘Oh, I have arrested. I was also informed’. So really the blame goes further to the one who misled me to think that (arrest) had taken place.
And then also this one could have received information from another person be it a rumour or hearsay ,but he was also informed, so the chain goes as far as the origin of the statement.
What is your comment on politicians who engage in unethical behaviours of bribing voters and organising hooligans to cause trouble during election periods?
This is also wrong because leaders must lead but not mislead. And indeed the law says nobody is above the law.
Whether you are a leader, whether you are a common person you commit a crime, you will be subjected to the courts of law.
I therefore strongly condemn them, especially the leaders who do wrong things.
That is bad mentorship, that is misguiding and that is completely ruining the social fabric of the population.
So leaders in whatever level when they do things that are wrong they must know that they are killing the nation, they are destroying the fabric and their mentorship becomes really misleading and misguiding.
They are laying a recipe for propensity for doing wrong things.
Do you miss active priesthood?
I am actually practically remaining within the lines of priesthood. My only limitation is that I can’t take full time active priesthood.
That is going to the altar, saying mass, delivery sacraments, etcetera, but in entity and in the person, I am still the priest.
I say my prayers every morning, every evening and I perform all my little obligations in my breviary, so I am confortable.
In the event that the Church tomorrow sees that I am not out of the place by being in politics and therefore recognizes as it has done somewhere. I know of ministers in, for example, South Sudan who are both priests as well as serving in government and they were allowed.
I could also get that exemption and probably open avenues for others, because I know there are many people here with able minds and capabilities and they can double this exercise.
I don’t think I am putting my church at a loss when I am doing what I am doing now.
Probably it’s an opportunity for me to bring on board the values of my faith, of my church when I can also be in government.
What are your ambitions; are you going to seek reelection come 2016?
My ambition is to see a country really cherishing and upholding moral values and principles.
I always very much admire the motto of the country: “For God and My Country” because fear of God is the being of the wisdom.
On running again as MP, as soon as I am given the opportunity I will certainly be there (in Parliament in 2016)
We recently heard that you exchanged casual WhatsApp messages with a certain lady, how true was that media report?
It was all malicious; someone just went and picked photo shots. There was no sign of us being together and even those messages were actually not original, some of them were just fitted in.
And we have already subjected that story into investigations.
You may be surprised that that person (journalist) will have to answer for such unsolicited information and throwing somebody’s face on social media without being cautioned.
So you don’t have a girlfriend?
Most contestants bribe voters during election time by buying for them alcohol, soap, salt and sugar. Do you also do this?
No, I talk to the people and tell them if you want me to be your MP, here I am. And at the end you choose to do what you want. But to buy voters by providing people with amenities like salt, sugar, soap is not my habit.
I will continue to help in as far as you (voters) need: students going to school, patients needing hospitalisation and a poor person needing food, I give but without the context of elections.
And they have always liked that. I say to them: “Please when I come I talk to you and after talking to you I say let’s share this; you take a soda or two and we go home”.
Is that not bribing voters?
It’s no bribing; it’s an appreciation of having stayed around to listen to me. Just like a visitor comes to your home, don’t you give them a glass of water, don’t you give them a drink, don’t you give them food, so that is what I do also, but it’s not conditional to my elections.