NRM government finally admits development failure

We should all congratulate the government for admitting, like the IMF and the World Bank before it, that mistakes had been made in Uganda’s development efforts. This is a wise move and there should be no regrets about it. When President Museveni addressed the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2009 and said in part “We have started doing what we had left undone for a long time…” I got a sense that the government had finally admitted the failure of its development model. This was confirmed a few days later when ministers and permanent secretaries acknowledged at a retreat that the development model pursued since 1987 had failed to produce the desired results.

When former President Pinochet whose government was the first to introduce structural adjustment in 1973 with ‘Chicago Boys’ (Chilean economists who had been trained at the University of Chicago in USA) and advice of the late Milton Friedman, father of monetarism, realized that the policy was not working he made a bold move. He dismissed the entire team of Chicago boys, appointed a new minister of finance and recast the development model by combining state and private sector in a new development agenda. The recessions ended and the economy has been doing very well since then. So what should Uganda stakeholders do?

Museveni hiding development failure in GNI and per capita figures

M7 should admit that his development policies haven’t worked in order to be able to make adjustments. But by refusing to admit he is continuing to make errors. He has now begun to come up with statistics about Gross National Income (GNI) and per capita income and increase in the manufacturing sector and energy production.

At the beginning of his presidency he came up with a comprehensive ten-point program whose end result was to end the suffering of the people of Uganda. He stressed ending, not reducing, poverty in Uganda. He stressed making schools work and produce quality and skilled workers. He would feed all Ugandans adequately. Diseases would be conquered and he would re-grow hair on balding Uganda hills. These were laudable goals.

But Museveni lost the way by embracing inappropriate neo-liberal policies of invisible hand of market forces, laissez faire policies, labor flexibility, austerity program and trickle down mechanism. He knew these policies had not worked in Chile and Ghana and he knew Tanzania was resisting them.

Together we shall succeed

Radio Munansi English Program Jan. 26, 2013.

This is Eric Kashambuzi communicating from New York.

Greetings to you all: fellow Ugandans at home and abroad, friends and well- wishers.

I am glad to be back on Radio Munansi to continue the discussion of issues in Uganda’s political economy under the theme “Together we shall succeed”.

I mentioned political economy to signify that political decisions determine economic direction and economic forces affect politics. Thus, politics and economics are inter-linked.

I also chose the theme “Together we shall succeed” because I honestly believe that by working together we have a better chance of unseating NRM whose record of failure is there for all to see. I have been thrilled to see that the idea of working together has been received warmly by fellow Ugandans on face book among others.

Since the beginning of 2011, I have been active in Uganda politics. I have told you who I am, where I was born and grew up, where I was educated and what I have done in my career. I presented my profile in three parts which are posted at for easy reference.

Uganda: when you’re afraid of failure you will never make progress

Many Ugandans are very unhappy about the deteriorating situation in our country. However, they are unable to react because they are afraid that if they don’t succeed in regime change or make fundamental changes within NRM the consequences might be severe. They are therefore prepared to wait until time solves the problem or someone else does it for them. That is why some Ugandans are praying virtually daily for donors to come to our rescue. In life there are few, if any, improvements that occur without human involvement and sometimes sacrifices. Intervention by others is more often than not to promote or fulfill parochial agendas that could lead to more hardship for the non-participants in the process. Therefore in order to solve a problem those affected need to participate. Second, success or failure depends upon the goal one sets. For example, those who had planned to unseat NRM regime in 2011 elections and didn’t obviously failed. Those who criticized NRM economic policy succeeded because the government dropped the devastating structural adjustment program in 2009 based on the invisible hand of market forces and replaced it with National Development Plan designed to introduce a public-private partnership model. Third, there are goals that are achieved in stages. You start with producing and disseminating information in the news papers, radios and the internet as Ugandans are doing now. The information is then debated and synthesized into policy and strategy in the second phase. In the third phase the strategy is implemented. Implementation may not achieve all the goals or none at all. The momentum may be slowed or the movement even destroyed completely. History provides lessons we can draw from so that when we do not succeed or do so partially the first time we should not despair and throw in the towel. In some of my publications, I have deliberately drawn on history lessons to show that those that persist and are optimistic win in the end. Below are some lessons that discourage pessimism and defeatism.

Success or failure is a matter of strategy

Too often people involved in the struggle for change confuse the goal and the strategy or the means to achieve the goal. The goal remains the same but the strategy adapts to changing circumstances. Let us take South Africa as an illustration. The African National Congress (ANC) was formed in 1912 to end a white minority system of government (the goal) by non-violent means based on Gandhian principles and tactics (the strategy). However, following the massacre of peaceful demonstrators at Sharpeville in 1960, ANC changed the strategy from nonviolent campaign to armed struggle. The goal or the principle remained the same. The war got prolonged and became very destructive and expensive on both sides. Under the mature and wise leadership of Mandela and de Clerk and perhaps assisted by a hidden external hand, ANC and apartheid government decided to negotiate a settlement. The ANC suspended the guerrilla war and began negotiations (a new strategy) to end the white minority system of government (the original goal). In 1994 after hard negotiations of give and take the white minority government system was defeated at the negotiating table and black majority rule was achieved with Mandela as president, Mbeki as first deputy president and de Clerk the last president under the white minority government as second deputy president. In the course of the negotiations the whites were assured that they would not be thrown into the ocean. Three further observations are in order. First, it is important to note that negotiations cannot take place until both sides have agreed to the solution. A third party working covertly or overtly may be needed to create an environment for a decision to be taken and negotiations to begin. Second, negotiations must be conducted with honesty by all stakeholders and implement the agreement reached. Third, negotiations must continue notwithstanding obstacles that may even lead to a temporary breakdown until an agreement is reached.

Dangers of failure to punish perpetrators for crimes including of genocide

The total international community’s neglect of the 1972 and 1993 crimes of genocide of Hutu by Tutsi in Burundi is believed to have emboldened the Hutu extremists in Rwanda to commit crimes of genocide against Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda in 1994. The perpetrators of Rwanda genocide thought that the international community would not act as in Burundi. They were wrong. But action against Hutu perpetrators of genocide in Rwanda and omission to act against Tutsi perpetrators of genocide in Burundi in 1972 and 1993 were judged as double standards practiced by the international community including the United Nations. Hutu survivors were forced to take up arms for self-defense resulting in human loss, injuries and displacements and destruction of property, infrastructure and institutions.

In 1994 Gersony submitted a report showing that the Tutsi in the Rwanda Patriotic Front and Army (RPF/A) had committed serious crimes against Hutu that could be classified as crimes of genocide. The Secretary-General of the United Nations acting either alone or under pressure suppressed publication of the report. The massacre or what some have called ‘genocide’ of tens of thousands of Hutu internally displaced persons (IDPs) at Kibeho camp was also ignored by the international community. The failure to punish perpetrators emboldened the hardliners in Rwanda government to commit more crimes and to get rid of moderate voices.

Contradictions in Uganda’s development policy

As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, Ugandans need to take stock of how far they have come and decide on where they want to go. Since the NRM government came to power in 1986, its development record has been characterized by three major factors – overdependence on foreign advisers, abrupt and major shift in development policy (from ten-point program to the Washington Consensus and since September 2009 to economic development planning). I have written on the first two factors and posted the articles on my blog In this article we shall focus on contradictions which give the impression of failure to design policy on some issues or lack of collective responsibility.

Before NRM captured power, its cadres from different development backgrounds had debated and reached a consensus on policies contained in the ten-point program. Until July 1987 when the government launched the structural adjustment program, government representatives spoke with one voice.

Since July 1987, many government representatives have contradicted one another giving an indication of lack of harmony in policy making and collective responsibility. Let us review a few examples.