Here are the principal highlights.
1. The mysterious death of a twenty four year old member of parliament has cast a thick shadow over the credibility of the government. Rightly or wrongly, the people of Uganda appear to have made up their mind thereby denting the image of Tutsi-led NRM government. The puzzle that MP Hussein Kyanjo was poisoned remains unsolved. The latest scare that the vice president had been poisoned and had to rush to hospital has left Ugandans wondering who is safe in Uganda and abroad. The allegation of poisoning Ugandans needs to be taken up in 2013.
2. Politically, NRM fared badly in 2012. A new government within NRM government was formed by Ssekikubo, Baryomunsi and Nawagaba. The fight for presidential succession by the first lady, prime minister and speaker of parliament raffled NRM feathers. To put a halt to it, the president announced a year after he had been fraudulently re-elected that he was seeking re-election in 2016. The potential for NRM implosion shouldn’t be underestimated. Meanwhile, Museveni is grooming his son Muhoozi to succeed him, witness rapid promotions including the one conferred on him by the late Gaddafi. To keep NRM together and his involvement as chairman of regional organizations, Museveni is spending less time on Uganda’s economic, social and environmental development.
3. At the ballot box level, NRM performed badly losing most of by-elections. This has demonstrated that given a level playing field underpinned by an independent electoral commission, standardized campaign finance and media space and truly free and fair elections, NRM can’t win at the presidential, parliamentary and local levels. However, to send NRM into retirement at the next elections opposition parties need to work together because singly they can’t defeat NRM. Moi, Kaunda, Smith (Southern Rhodesia) and Pinochet (Chile) lost political control because opposition parties came together into coalitions and trounced the ruling parties. UDU is forging ahead along these lines. It has prepared an alternative and credible National Recovery Plan and is currently engaged in civic education, diplomatic networking and working with other organization to expand membership. Those who have questions about where UDU stands on some issues including how it sees Africa’s role are urged to read the Plan accessible at www.udugandans.org.
4. At the economic level, NRM has lost the right direction particularly since the abandonment of structural adjustment program in 2009. The hurriedly drafted five year development plan in preparation for 2011 elections hasn’t been implemented as the prime minister reported not too long ago either for lack of will, resources or capacity or all three. Consequently, Uganda’s economic growth has plummeted from 10 percent realized in the mid-1990s to the current low level of 3 percent below the population growth rate of 3.5 percent, meaning that per capita income has declined and poverty has increased especially in a situation where income distribution is highly skewed in favor of those already rich. Economic growth even at the highest level in the 1990s failed to create jobs and reduce poverty. Consequently, youth unemployment including university graduates stands at over 80 percent. Unemployed people have no income and can’t meet basic needs of food, shelter and clothing. Hunger, urban slums and imported used clothes have become Uganda’s landmarks under NRM government. Poor and hungry people especially emerging from war produce more children than others social classes. Rapid immigration because of a liberal policy has added to rapid population growth now at 3.5 percent per annum. Thus, population policy should focus on limiting migrants into Uganda as well. The announcement by the prime minister that peasant land would be transferred to rich and large scale farmers has raised fundamental questions as to what NRM government is up to. The prime minister has kept silent since he made the announcement. He needs to come forward and explain where the idea came from and what he plans to do with peasants that constitute over 80 percent of Uganda’s population of some 35 million. Not least, Uganda is not a city state and can’t be developed like Singapore. NRM focus on Kampala city (now Greater Kampala) which generates over 70 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) based on capital intensive services isn’t suitable for Uganda with over 80 percent of the population in the countryside. Encouraging rural-urban migration will make matters worse. Agriculture and agro-based industries should underpin Uganda’s economy supplemented by services.
5. Corruption, sectarianism, cronyism and mismanagement of public funds appear to have gotten out of control in 2012. Ugandans are asking what happened to over $30 billion that Uganda has received in grants by development partners. They also want to know what happened to the revenue that was collected by selling public enterprises. The reappointment of some suspended ministers while investigations into corruption were still going on has raised questions as to who is in charge.
6. At the East African community level, Uganda has continued to register trade deficits raising questions about Uganda’s gains. That Uganda is beginning to lose interest is demonstrated by the government failure to attend the last Summit at the highest level. The president and minister of East African affairs couldn’t attend and sent a minister of state appointed in the recent reshuffle and therefore with little experience in community affairs to speak confidently in defense of Uganda interests. Museveni had hoped to use the community to push his Tutsi Empire dream by fast tracking the East African political federation ahead of economic integration. It appears that other members of the community have realized what Museveni is up to and are responding accordingly.
7. At the Great Lakes level, Uganda’s alleged support of M23 that invaded North Kivu and captured Goma town before it was asked to abandon the town has sent a clear message that Museveni hasn’t been a peacemaker all along. Earlier, a UN report implicated Uganda in the genocide of Hutu people in Eastern DRC.
8. At the United Nations level, the absence of the president and minister of foreign affairs has raised questions as to what is happening. The failure of NRM government to submit a report on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for the 2010 Summit confirmed that something had gone wrong and that Uganda was no longer a star performer to be emulated by other developing countries in the wake of abandoning structural adjustment program.
Fellow Ugandans, Uganda needs another government with civilian leadership to save Uganda. Museveni and his team of Tutsi and tutsified Ugandans largely with military background have failed to deliver in all areas of human endeavor. Look at the education, healthcare, urban housing, food and nutrition security and the environment: all systems aren’t working. The reemergence of diseases that had disappeared says it all. Uganda is now avoiding United Nations summits at the presidential and foreign affairs level, sending the vice president to fill the gap.
Not all is lost. There is still hope. Uganda has resources and qualified and experienced leaders who sadly are locked out by Uganda’s military dictatorship. Beginning in 2013, let us come together, arrest and reverse the current unhappy political economy trajectory and put Uganda back on the right track. The time to act is now.
Happy New Year