Post-London conference philosophy should be fundamentally different from NRM’s

NRM came to power at the height of the Washington Consensus ideology based on market forces, laissez-faire capitalism, economic deregulation, macroeconomic stability and trickle down mechanism, etc. Government was seen as part of the development problem and not the solution.

In 1997 the Washington Consensus was declared over at the G20 Summit in London. Since then the economically troubled world with high unemployment and slow economic growth has been influenced largely by a return of Keynesian model of demand management. Governments have returned to stimulate the economy working strategically in partnership with the private sector and civil societies and addressing imperfections of the market mechanism including deregulation.

Although NRM government abandoned the Washington Consensus or Structural Adjustment in late 1997 and replaced it with a five-year development plan, implying an active but strategic role of the government in the economy, in practice the government has continued to implement many of the Washington Consensus elements.

The role of government has not yet been refocused to address the urgent issues in our economy and society. Unlike other countries in developed and developing regions, NRM has not embarked on a stimulus package in the form of say public works to construct or repair roads, schools, clinics thereby providing the necessary infrastructure and creating jobs and raising incomes that would in turn create a demand for goods and services and stimulate economic growth through private investment. The government has not yet addressed the issue of interest rates to encourage borrowing and investment in labor-intensive micro, small and medium-sized enterprises that create jobs and stimulate equitable economic growth.

Given rapid environmental degradation caused in large part by de-vegetation to grow crops and herd livestock mainly for export and is threatening Uganda’s security, the government should have embarked on massive reforestation and wetland rehabilitation programs. These programs would create jobs, protect the soil from being washed or blown away and stabilize thermal and hydrological regimes. The timber would provide fuel wood and materials for manufacturing and construction industries and other purposes.

Uganda needs to return to a development strategy focused on agriculture, rural development and manufacturing sectors. Smart subsidies and short-term infant industry protection measures will have to be established. Without agricultural and industrial revolutions incorporating appropriate modern technologies Uganda has no chance of joining middle income countries. Market forces and laissez-faire capitalism alone will not get us there. A quick visit to South Korean – not Singaporean – path to development might shed some light.

The new philosophy must be sensitive to social sectors of education, healthcare, housing, special needs of children including school lunches and respect for and empowerment of women.

At the East African integration level, Uganda negotiators should try to increase export opportunities to other members of the community in order to significantly reduce or eliminate trade deficits that have characterized Uganda’s participation in the integration process. Political federation should follow – not precede – economic integration.

At the international level, Uganda needs to be more active in conferences to have its views heard and incorporated into resolutions that can help mobilize development resources. There seems to be a drift from economic and social sectors to political, security and human rights agenda. We need a combination of both in our foreign policy.

The issue of qualified and experienced human power needs to occupy center stage in our new philosophy. NRM’s policy of encouraging experienced Ugandans to work abroad and those already there not to return home should be reversed without further delay. This policy has deprived Uganda of knowledgeable and experienced human power.

The issues outlined here and more are well articulated in the National Recovery Plan (NRP) developed by United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) as an alternative to the failed policies of NRM. The plan is accessible at This plan should form the basis for post-London conference follow-up. It should be enriched by London discussions and adopted as a national plan. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. UDU officials and members are ready to participate in follow-up discussions and activities.

For further information, contact Eric Kashambuzi at: [email protected].

We look forward to a report of the London meeting to which UDU contributed some ideas contained in Eric Kashambuzi’s statement available at

It was heartening to learn that the conference underscored the urgent need for national unity. UDU was formed by parties and organizations at home and abroad opposed to the NRM system to unite all the forces and effect a peaceful regime change. There are many examples of peaceful regime change around the world.

For example, except in Romania, Eastern Europe got rid of communist governments without resorting to war. It was the joint conviction, fearless and determination of the people in this region – with a helping hand from friends and well-wishers – that ended communism.

Similarly with determination, smart boldness and conviction from the heart – and a helping hand from friends and well-wishers – Ugandans can remove NRM peacefully. However, Ugandans reserve the right to defend themselves by any other means should that become absolutely necessary.