Challenge of Uganda’s national unity since independence


British policy of divide and rule continued until independence in 1962. Since
then independent governments particularly those of Obote and Museveni have
attempted to construct national unity without success.

On October
9, 1962 as the country celebrated independence, the Secretary General of the
ruling Uganda Peoples Congress issued a statement that the main interest of
Britain in Uganda was to create a thick cloud of confusion behind which it could
hide and exploit the country although it posed as the arbiter between the
so-called warring tribes and fanatical religious groups which it nursed and
abated to suit its strategy.

of UPC’s government primary goals was to foster national unity. To this end the
government worked to end tribalism, feudalism, religious bigotry and political
opportunism in all their manifestations. Prime Minister and later President
Obote hoped to do so through the mechanism of politics and education.


Shortcomings of natural resources-based economic growth in Uganda


Winston Churchill visited Uganda at the start of the twentieth century, he was impressed by the biological
diversity, rivers and lakes, the fertility of the soil, abundant rainfall, moderate
climate and food variety.

1894 Uganda was declared a protectorate. It would raise revenue from its own resources
through producing export commodities starting with cotton and later coffee, tea
and tobacco. The extensive method of cultivation resulted in clearing large
swathes of vegetative cover. Producing food for an increasing population and
livestock grazing resulted in more vegetation being cleared.

protect the environment, the British administration designated forest and game
reserves. Cultivation and grazing in wetlands/swamps was also prohibited. Hill
tops and slopes were planted with trees to prevent soil erosion and floods. In
areas where agriculture took place in hilly areas as in Kabale, terracing was
encouraged to check water runoff and mud slides.


The negative and positive aspects of British administration in Uganda


understand the present, one has to have a general knowledge of the past.  And to project the future – five to ten years
– with a degree of accuracy, one must be conversant with the present. 

my career at the United Nations, I had the opportunity to travel widely in
Africa, Europe and North America where I met with Ugandans of different
generations. The informal and formal discussions we held led me to conclude
that most Ugandans especially of the younger generation do not know much about
Uganda’s history. Those who were born after colonial rule have vague ideas
about the past and those born since 1986 seem to know only the history of the
National Resistance Movement and its government. Some especially those living
abroad have complained that they have been denied opportunity to know the
history of their country.


The impact of hunger on human condition in Uganda


are witnessing a state of emergency which calls for urgent corrective action by
Ugandan authorities under the direct leadership of H.E. Mr. Yoweri Kaguta
Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda. Reports from
various credible sources show that over 10 million Ugandans (over 33 percent)
are mentally sick, 40 percent of children under the age of five are
undernourished, 12 percent of infants are born with low birth weight because
their mothers are undernourished and up to 80 percent of children drop out of primary
school largely because they are hungry.  Infants
who are born underweight suffer permanent disabilities and face the prospect of
early death. Furthermore, children who do not eat enough of balanced diets
(carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and fats) become mentally and
physically underdeveloped.


Why is Rukungiri a political hot spot and an economic backwater?

is clear that Rukungiri is increasingly becoming the most politically troubled
and economically backward district in the Country. And why is that? To answer
the question one has to go back to the beginning of the twentieth century when
Uganda came under British administration.


Market-based farming and national food sovereignty: Lessons for Uganda

As Uganda embarks on an agenda to transform peasant
subsistence agriculture to modern commercial farming based on a market
mechanism and large-scale domestic and foreign producers, the authorities need
to look closely at past experience in time and space to determine the best factor
combination of producing for the market and for domestic consumption in a
sustainable manner. This is important as more foodstuffs and factors of
production shift from human consumption to livestock feeding and bio-fuels.


Coexistence of poverty and wealth within and between nations

understand why some people or nations are poor while others are rich, one has to
analyze first why and how the rich got rich. Everywhere you look in time and
space within and between nations, there are clusters of rich and poor people
and nations. The common thread is the exploitation of one group by another.

the fall of the western part of the
Roman Empire, Western Europe was engulfed in instability and insecurity. The chiefs or strong men offered to protect
the weak in exchange for their land. Those who surrendered became serfs under a
feudal system of governance and were legally bound to their lords. Besides
working for free on the lords’ land, the serfs paid tribute to the landlords from
their harvests. They also paid for using the lords’ grinding mill, bakery and
brewery. They contributed one-tenth (tithe) of their harvest to the church
because priests prayed for the serfs souls. In the end the serfs retained less
than half of the harvest which was not enough to meet the nutritional
requirements of the family and a surplus for next planting and sale for cash to
purchase essential items such as salt. Therein lay the beginning of
impoverishment which became intergenerational.


Lessons from France under Louis XIV and XV

Louis XIV ruled from 1643 to 1715. He had great physical endurance for long hours of work and entertainment. He came to power when the country was going through economic hard times. Bad weather and wars damaged agricultural production leading to food shortages and financial difficulties. At the same time all French classes made demands: Peasants demanded rights, nobility demanded more power and the monarch demanded that the peasants and nobles fall in line. This jockeying created conditions for the emergence of absolute rulers.

Absolutism represented a form of government in which rulers exercised absolute power over their subjects: controlling government, religious, judiciary and military institutions as well as economic policy and culture. To achieve this goal, the ruler tried to eliminate all competition in the kingdom.


Scapegoat tactics will not solve Uganda’s development challenges

From time immemorial, most human beings have blamed someone else when things went wrong and have taken credit when they went right. This is true at work, in homes and at state level. Some governments are known for blaming the “Acts of God” such as bad weather when the crop fails, population explosion to explain environmental degradation and increasingly using laziness to explain increasing unemployment.

Those who have read Uganda’s budget speeches will have noticed that when agricultural output is low and food prices go up, blame is leveled at the weather – usually drought. There is some truth in that. However, it is very well known that rain-fed agriculture carries risks which can easily be overcome. And the government knows that. It has talked about the benefits of irrigation and even allocated resources for the construction of dams to collect water for farming purposes – crop cultivation and livestock herding. That was many years ago and farming still suffers from droughts and increasingly floods.


Uganda’s rapid economic growth still falls short

Because of pressure from the donor community which did not believe in a mixed economy model with elements of socialism, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government decided to pursue a neo-liberal economic growth model based on the Washington Consensus – also known as structural adjustment program (SAP). The decision was formalized in an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in May 1987. It was consolidated at the seminar of parliamentarians and other stakeholders in December 1989 after a period of intense puasuasion. 

Since then, the government has stressed economic growth, low inflation, balanced budgets, export diversification and privatization of public enterprises. In return, the government became the darling of the donor community, receiving generous donations in money and experts and debt relief.  The export-oriented economy would be driven by the private sector and the market mechanism and the government would provide an enabling environment for that purpose. The program would focus on the productive sectors which excluded the social ones such as education, healthcare including water and sanitation, food and nutrition security, housing and employment. Those in government that opposed these arrangements or favored a gradual approach were sidelined. Senior staff changes and reorganization of key ministries were undertaken to signal a new dawn. The ministry of finance and central bank were empowered to run Uganda’s economy.