Freedom and prosperity will be earned by Ugandans

We have a saying in my culture that a child who does not cry, never gets fed. Those who have taught know that attention of teachers goes disproportionately to students who raise their hands in class or follow the teacher after class with questions. In a world with so many problems, attention is being directed to hot spots. Those who remain silent regardless of the extent of suffering will be sidelined. Going to church to seek God’s help is necessary but not sufficient. Calling for outside help is fine but you have to demonstrate what you have done. From time immemorial, freedom and prosperity have been earned by individuals, communities and nations through sweat and sacrifice. By and large those who succeed work the hardest and longest and sacrifice a lot. They reject what they don’t like and go for what they want. The poll tax was dropped in England in the 14th century because the peasants opposed it and revolted. The poll tax was again rejected in the 20th century because the British opposed it and removed from office the champion who wanted to reintroduce it. The English civil war was waged against the excessive demands and behavior of the king. So was the French Revolution. Americans rejected taxation without representation. So the descendants of these people know the value of fighting for rights and freedoms. History is full of examples in all places on earth that unless you raise your voice and show your presence, you will not get heard and noticed. So the message for Ugandans is clear: organize, raise your hand and your voice, show your presence in the streets and wherever you are sit in front of targeted embassies or capitals peacefully and if necessary silently with placards conveying the message to get international attention! Ugandans in London have been doing an excellent job of demonstrating and we congratulate them. But don’t relax. Others should emulate this noble show of determination to make change happen at home. Museveni (the name will be used in official capacity with no personal criticism) is sensitive about Uganda’s image abroad which is already damaged. That is why he is skipping important conferences. He is afraid of demonstrations and reporters’ questions about rigged elections and when he will step down. In our struggle we should aim at involving everyone willing to cooperate including NRM members because the changes we are seeking will benefit everyone.

Uganda’s development needs a different approach

There are things that we shall keep in the media until solutions are found. One of the senior officials at the United Nations in New York replied to a question that conferences on the same subjects will continue to be organized until solutions are found. I agreed with him then, I agree with him now. And that is what I intend to do with Uganda until solutions to the questions raised are found. Ugandans and other readers are urged to make constructive comments on what we write in order to reorient Uganda’s development path. The purpose of development is to end poverty. Economic growth rates while necessary are meaningless unless they lead to poverty reduction. Poverty can only end by addressing dimensions that create it: illiteracy, disease, poor diet, poor housing and clothing, low productivity and value addition etc. Buildings, referenda and constitutions are necessary but not sufficient. Pass or fail depends on how much poverty has been reduced. You may have sufficient revenue and skilled people and yet fail to reduce poverty because of the way resources are used. Why has Uganda with adequate resources and skilled human power failed to address these dimensions that have kept over fifty percent of Ugandans absolutely poor? Here are the principle reasons.

How to address land fragmentation in Uganda

In chapter one of my book titled “Uganda’s Development Agenda in the 21st Century and Related Regional Issues (2008)” I wrote about the challenges connected with land tenure and land use. One of the issues I addressed is land fragmentation which is not abating. Although many Ugandans are aware of the problems connected with tiny and scattered pieces of land, they are unwilling to address them. There are many reasons for this behavior.

First, culturally and sentimentally when the head of the family passes on every son and increasingly every daughter and widow (s) wants a piece of the land. The more members in the family the smaller the piece each member gets. And given low agricultural productivity (low yielding traditional seeds and absence of organic and inorganic fertilizers and irrigation technology), the tiny pieces of land do not produce enough to maintain a family for food and cash, pushing that family into deeper poverty if there are no alternative sources of income. This problem may be overcome in the short to medium term by changing the cultural and sentimental value of land so that inheritance goes to one member or inherited land is used collectively. In the long term poverty reduction may help reduce the size of the family because poor couples produce more children than rich ones.

When people demand change, they can’t be stopped

I have followed and participated in Uganda politics since before independence. Those at Butobere, Ntare, Rukungiri, Nairobi, Berkeley (USA), Arusha, Brussels (Belgium), Addis Ababa, Lusaka and Mbabane (Swaziland) where I was born, studied or worked and now New York where I reside will recall the political discussions we had and are now having about the desire for Ugandans and Africans to take charge of their own destiny. The lesson I have learned is that when people are determined for change, they will get it regardless of the hurdles on the way. We used to hear that Africans were not ready for independence. They needed more time and guidance. They were like children beginning to walk or to ride a bicycle. Some even argued that people in Southern Africa would never be liberated in our lifetime. Ready or not, the people of Uganda and Africa pushed on and got independent.

To solve a problem, you have to admit it exists

In Uganda, the problem is not government revenue. Since 1987, Uganda government has had adequate resources from various sources including donations, loans, remittances, debt relief, customs and tax revenue and sale of public enterprises. NRM government has received over $31 billion in donations alone. Uganda does not suffer a shortage of trained and experienced human power either. In fact Uganda has become an exporter of trained personnel. So what is the problem? The problem is President Museveni’s agenda contained in the 50 year Master Plan which is diametrically opposed to what we seek to do to achieve economic growth and development and improved the standard of living for all Ugandans – not to build schools, clinics and promote economic growth without equity. Museveni’s plan is to enrich and empower Bahororo people for control of Uganda in perpetuity. It is incredible but very true! This point must be repeated until it is understood very clearly by all Ugandans, friends and well wishers. Failure to understand this point will undermine all we are trying to do to make Uganda a better place for all citizens. It takes courage and risk to speak up like this but it has got to be done to save the “Pearl of Africa” from colonization – again. The two principle elements that underpin the Master Plan are the deliberate impoverishment of Ugandans by denying them quality education, employment and healthcare including nutrition and access to development resources such as land (without land, education and job you cannot consider yourself a full grown and respectable person) and credit as well as control of the instruments of repression, like the military. It is believed that impoverished, desperate and vulnerable people are easy to govern and they respect leaders without question. They have no knowledge of their rights and freedoms and cannot demand what they don’t know. That is why the middle class that has a questioning mind is declining through unemployment, retrenchment and brain drain. For easy reference, the Master Plan was posted on Ugandans at Heart Forum. Therefore it will not be summarized here. So the first step in solving Uganda’s political economy challenge is a recognition of the principle problem namely the implementation of the 50 year Master Plan led by President Museveni which has been facilitated by staff Museveni has hired and the neo-liberal model NRM adopted in 1987. Let us review the last two points.

To understand Museveni and Uganda’s decadence, read him dialectically

Let me begin with this statement to clear the air. In analyzing Uganda I have decided to use Museveni because my research has led me to conclude that Museveni is the governing party, the cabinet, parliament and the appointing authority (some people are refusing to leave their jobs on account of incompetence or corruption unless the appointing authority says so). But I refer to Museveni in his public, not private capacity.