Museveni promised to correct wrongs previously committed in land ownership that had disadvantaged real owners especially peasants. He also promised he would balance production of food for domestic consumption and agricultural commodities for export. He promised to end suffering of Ugandans.
In practice NRM has done the opposite. More land has been taken from peasants. In 1989 Ugandans complained to the president on land grabbing by foreigners particularly Tutsi. In 1990 land grabbing was prohibited but there was no enforcement mechanism. And Ugandans have continued to lose land through fake willing seller and willing buyer concept; some land transactions are conducted at gun point.
People who borrowed using their land as collateral are failing to pay high and variable rates of interest and are losing their land. Expansion of municipality boundaries into rural land that converts peasants into tenants is causing a lot of problems as land owners are pushed off the land in the name of development.
Last year (2012) in his state of the Nation address the president stressed that the government was going to focus on developing the neglected some 70 percent of subsistence farmers. Soon after that Amama Mbabazi the prime minister announced that Uganda was introducing large scale farming to boost agricultural productivity because peasants had failed to do so.
We have since demonstrated that small holders/peasants when facilitated with extension services, information and transport etc, are more productive, efficient, environmentally and socially friendly than large scale farmers which has been endorsed by G8, the United Nations and the World Bank. Large scale farms do not create jobs; they replace workers. Machines destroy the environment and use excessive chemicals that pollute soil, water and air. Large scale farmers produce for external consumers or bio-fuels, not domestic market. In other words we have shown that large scale farmers will create more problems than already exist in Uganda. Yet NRM is bent on displacing peasants without indicating what it will do after it has displaced them from their ancestral land. Already illegal immigrants and refugees are displacing indigenous owners. Powerful ranchers are moving into national parks and game reserves. Uganda has turned into a jungle where the powerful is gobbling up the weak with impunity and the world has turned the other way.
We have also cautioned against rushing into GMOs but NRM government isn’t listening. We don’t know who is advising the government. We don’t know where parliament stands on these issues. They represent the people and have to defend their interests. We would like to hear the voices of opposition leaders.
UDU has provided an alternative in its National Recovery Plan (NRP) available at www.udugandans.org. UDU advises the government to open debate on these sensitive issues instead of ignoring dissenting voices and cries of the people.
We appeal to the international community that has sustained NRM in government to pay more attention to what is happening in Uganda instead of focusing on inflation control, Gross National and per capita incomes, export diversification, privatization of public enterprises and accumulation of foreign reserves. Market forces and trickle down mechanism haven’t worked as expected.
Consequently, absolute Poverty is still over 50 percent, over thirty percent of Ugandans go to bed hungry every night and yet Uganda is a big exporter of food, youth unemployment is over 80 percent, maternal and child mortality are increasing and children are dropping out of school in large numbers because they are hungry. Corruption, sectarianism, cronyism and mismanagement of public funds are rampant. International community warnings are not enough. Real action needs to be taken to demonstrate that development partners are with the people of Uganda. Eric