Shortcut actions and long term consequences

In my culture we have a proverb “bugubugu tehisa”, meaning that if you apply too much cooking fire for quick results you will serve a poor meal. Consequently, we were taught to apply gentle fire so that the food cooks slowly for good results. This principle apparently applies to other human activities with long term adverse outcomes.

One of the reasons put forward for political instability in Uganda is that independence was achieved too early before national consciousness had developed to remove or minimize ethnic, religious and economic divides. The British policy of ‘divide and rule’ in addition to ‘indirect rule system’ that favored Protestant chiefs and their families and relatives over others in education, employment and political capital created a wide divide. To this divide was added the economic inequalities between the south and the north. The south became the economic and social development center while the north became the labor reserve providing men and increasingly women in police, prisons and the army and labor for economic activities in the south.

NRM government must accept responsibility for its actions

On Monday April 19, 2010 President Museveni launched Uganda’s five-year development plan. During the ceremony, he stated that at the beginning of his administration in 1986, NRM had plans to introduce a development plan but it was told that planning was out of date. Instead NRM was told to control inflation, ensure macro stability and leave the rest to the private sector. He did not specify who gave this advice.

When NRM came to power, it soon realized that unless it entered into an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) first, external funding would be withheld. For almost a year and a half, the government debated various options of engagement with the IMF under Washington Consensus or stabilization and structural adjustment conditions. The debates chaired or attended by the president were dominated by two schools of thought represented by the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development. The Ministry of Finance and possibly Central Bank opted for a gradual and sequenced approach to minimize the costs of adjustment drawing lessons from Obote II government’s experience with structural adjustment began in 1981. The Ministry of Planning and Economic Development supported a ‘shock therapy’ alternative that required implementation of all adjustment conditions at once. Finally, the President endorsed the shock therapy alternative.