For an individual, group or nation lasting success does not come easily. It has to be earned. Throughout my adult life I have observed that those who succeed work very hard, have determination and resilience and usually want to change the status quo: overcome poverty or end autocratic regime etc. They innovate, sacrifice and take risks. Those who take it easy usually don’t get very far. For example, students who miss classes, don’t do home work, complain about teachers all the time have no chance of success. During my school days children from poor families were urged to work very hard and break the chains of poverty and vulnerability. I have also noticed that those who are favored at work fall by the wayside soon after those who favored them leave the scene.
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.
Museveni had an interview with Bill Berkeley. Berkeley’s report was published in the Atlantic Monthly magazine (USA) of September 1994. Museveni stated at the start of the interview that “I have never blamed the whites [Museveni considers himself white] for colonizing Africa; I have never blamed these whites for taking slaves. If you are stupid, you should be taken a slave”. This statement reveals a lot about the character of Museveni and why he has (mis)treated Ugandans with no remorse.
Slave trade was a ruthless enterprise that had no respect for human lives whatsoever. Slave trade involved foreigners who facilitated local slave catchers with guns that were used in slave trade wars. When slavery was suppressed for various reasons, slave trade was replaced by colonialism that continued foreign ruthless exploitation of Africans using local agents. Museveni is trying to cover up his being used by foreigners as an agent in the western neo-colonization project led by Britain and the atrocities that have occurred amounting to Ugandans being treated as slaves witness their low wages and awful working conditions.
Thankfully, Uganda has entered the Enlightenment phase of development. Enlightenment is characterized by reason: asking questions and demanding convincing answers. Therefore, Ugandans are no longer taking things for granted. The divine right of leaders is over! Anyone who enters public life must expect to be scrutinized. Ugandans have a right to know the history, ancestry, education and work experience of those seeking public office or already there. Therefore family members, relatives and friends of public figures should stop complaining when their fathers or mothers are scrutinized. If they do not want their parents or relatives to be undressed in public they should advise them to stay away from politics. You cannot have your cake and eat it too!
The National Resistance Movement (NRM) government under the leadership of President Museveni has been in power for 25 years. Since 1987, following the signing of agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) major developments have taken place and some of them have raised questions that need to be answered by the government. Below are some of them.
The 2010 UNDP’s Human Development report has recorded that between 2000 and 2008 51.5 percent of Ugandans lived below $1.25 a day with an index ranking of 143 out of 169. This high level of poverty and associated ills is unacceptable. So, what should be done to get Uganda out of this poverty trap?
First and foremost, Uganda leaders and senior civil servants must genuinely admit that the development model pursued in since 1987 did not work as expected for inter alia the following reasons.
1. The average economic growth rate did not reach 7 or 8 percent essential as minimum for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
2. Excess capacity inherited in 1986 contributed more than economic reforms to economic growth and that that excess capacity is almost exhausted, calling for other sources of growth.
3. Trickle down mechanism failed to distribute the benefits of economic growth equitably resulting in skewed income distribution in favor of rich few families and spreading and deepening poverty.
4. Excessive obsession with macroeconomic stability especially inflation control to 5 percent and balanced budgets constrained investment and job growth because of very high interest rates and starved agriculture and social and infrastructural sectors of essential funding.