Why Ugandans are asking many questions

When students ask questions or make comments or readers/audience seek more information, it means that they are following the story under discussion but need more information before drawing conclusions.

As more Ugandans read my stories largely on Ugandans at Heart Forum and on www.kashambuzi.com, I am getting more questions or requests for more information. Sometimes I am asked to comment on articles written by others. And that is good news for Ugandans and our country because knowledge is power.

Questions I have received relate mostly to why Ugandans have remained poor in spite of abundant natural resources, generous donations from development partners, remittances from Ugandans in the diaspora and foreign exchange earnings from our diversified exports.

As you know, I have been a constant critic of NRM policies since 1987 not because I want to give the government a headache but because I am convinced that the government is driving Ugandans on a wrong bus in a wrong direction. With all the resources and revenue at our disposal, Uganda should have enough money to get everyone out of abject poverty and the associated ills. Instead human conditions are getting worse. When people eat one meal of maize or cassava a day or in two days or when households reduce eating meat from three times to once a week that is regression. And that is what is happening in many homes in Uganda. It has been reported that some mothers give their children warm water for dinner because there is no food! The poor are getting poorer and the rich richer.

At the time of independence in 1962, Uganda had better prospects for economic growth and social development than our Kenya and Tanzania neighbors and since 1987 has received more international support and experienced faster economic growth than the two countries. And yet Uganda has the lowest life expectancy among the three countries, a reflection of inequitable sharing of the benefits of economic growth. Is this a reflection of unintended policy failures or is there something else?

In the early part of his administration, Museveni was concerned about improving the general welfare of all Ugandans with a view to ending their long suffering as he promised in the ten point program. That is why he wanted the benefits of economic growth to trickle to all Ugandans.

Sadly as he settled into the presidency he began to enjoy it and decided he would stay and pass it on to members of his Bahororo tribe upon his retirement.

On March 15, 1992, Museveni convened a meeting at his Rwakitura country residence of Bahororo people mostly from Ntungamo and Rukungiri districts. They decided not to relinquish political power to non-Bahororo (Bahororo are Batutsi from Rwanda). They agreed on a 50-year master plan. To realize the plan, Bahororo decided:

1. To have the highest education qualification during his [Museveni] term of office for their children. [This explains why NRM Bahororo-led government has neglected quality education and dropout of non-Bahororo children from school]

2. To make sure they are the richest people in Uganda in the 50 years master plan. [That is why they own most lucrative businesses including oil, steal public funds with impunity and control ministries with a lot of money. That is why they are not worried about skewed income distribution because it has favored Bahororo].

3. To make sure they control the army and have the highest ranks in the army. [Bahororo are in top positions beginning with the Commander-in-Chief and the Army Commander etc].

4. To make sure they take charge of all resources in the country. [Bahororo own most of lucrative business, are buying land at breakneck speed, own oil and livestock etc].

5. To ensure that everybody else [non-Bahororo in Uganda] is poor so they could be controlled and respect the group [Bahororo group]. [That is why Bahororo NRM-led government does not care about unemployment – there is no Muhororo who has failed to find a job – under-employment, skewed income distribution, malnutrition etc because they keep non-Bahororo tribes poor. That is why absolute poverty is still over 50 percent of the total population of 34 million and Bahororo or their agents blame unemployed Ugandans for being lazy or drinking too much alcohol].

6. To ensure none of those not connected not to know about the action plan. [Bahororo forgot that one of them could have been unhappy with the decisions or the group was infiltrated and the report leaked. To the best of my knowledge Bahororo have not denied the report].

How was the master plan to be implemented?

While they were working on the details of the master plan, they were also discussing structural adjustment program (SAP). They realized that the shock therapy (extreme) version of elimination of subsidies on education, healthcare and agriculture; elimination of cooperatives and extension services; imposition of service charges on education and healthcare in particular; retrenchment of public servants; introduction of labor flexibility; encouragement of peasants to produce for cash than for the stomach; and refusal to provide lunches would force poor children out of school. All these elements of SAP acting individually or in concert would impoverish non-Bahororo Ugandans who would be rendered economically powerless and politically voiceless.

During election campaigns these poor folks would be bribed with simple things like salt, local beer and match boxes etc to vote for candidates recommended by Bahororo or their agents in the NRM party.

Key figures of non-Bahororo would be bribed in return for supporting Bahororo agenda. That is why the elements of structural adjustment such as continued withdrawal of subsidies and balanced budget even in economic crisis times have continued to be implemented even after SAP was officially abandoned in 2009.

Non-Bahororo Ugandans have therefore been deliberately impoverished by Bahororo NRM –led government. Wrong policies have been deliberately kept alive to achieve a political objective – the realization of Bahororo 50 year master plan.

When I wrote an article about how Bairu (slaves) of Rujumbura got impoverished by Bahororo, I was attacked fiercely and accused of being sectarian and a tribal hater. But the truth cannot remain hidden forever. As poverty and its nasty outcomes spread to the rest of Uganda, the majority of Ugandans now agree with me.

The situation can only be changed by removing NRM system from power which is controlled by Bahororo. Short of that we can talk and write all we want but non-Bahororo Ugandans will continue to slide into deeper poverty, dispossession and marginalization politically and economically. Let me repeat – the solution is clear. It is a political one of removing NRM Bahororo-led government from power using peaceful and democratic means in the first instance.

It is hoped that the question of why absolute poverty has remained high in Uganda in spite of rapid economic growth has been answered adequately. However, if still in doubt do not hesitate to ask again.