Patriotic Ugandans and friends have cause to worry about the future of Uganda which is being shaped by current developments. As we know the past impacts the present and the present influences the future. What makes a country grow and develop are its people underpinned by an enabling environment including education, health and nutrition care, infrastructure, institutions, good governance and the political will and commitment of leaders.
The first decade of Uganda’s independence witnessed commendable progress in these areas. In its 1993 report covering the 1963-70 period, the World Bank observed that “Uganda’s social indicators were comparable to, if not better than, most countries in Africa. The country’s health service had developed into one of Africa’s best. Uganda pioneered many low-cost health and nutrition programs. There was a highly organized network of vaccination centers and immunization program reached 70 percent of the population. Although school enrolment was still low, Uganda’s education system had developed a reputation for very high quality”. Uganda had also made substantial progress in infrastructure particularly road construction and institutions in research, extension services and cooperatives.
On July 4, 2012, my articles on Ugandans at Heart Forum generated a vibrant, constructive and informative as well as – I must add thankfully – civil debate. Even those who were rough in the past were gentle this time. Those who tried to divert attention from the core message of my articles in the hope of discouraging further writing along similar lines ended up confirming what I have been saying all along; namely that NRM has destroyed Uganda – intentionally or otherwise – which is now a failed state under a military dictatorship (so that NRM stays in power an extra day because it has lost popular support) no matter what the defenders of NRM – in or out of government – may say. Others concurred that Uganda is indeed in deep trouble but complained that NRM has been disproportionately bashed. Overall, there is agreement that NRM has performed far below expectation and has therefore failed the test. We have discussed at length what has gone wrong and the factors involved since NRM came to power in 1986. The differences have narrowed considerably on the following factors behind NRM failed performance.
Museveni’s address was not directed at Ugandans but donors who have withdrawn support largely because of rampant corruption and mismanagement of public funds. He was I think also addressing the United Nations on one Millennium Development Goal – Achieve universal primary education. He focused on the glass half full, leaving out the empty half.
He was telling donors that his administration met the requirements or conditionality of stabilization and structural adjustment program (SAP).
1. That is why he talked about growth of the economy or GNI and per capita income;
2. That is why he talked about inflation control to single digits;
3. That is why he talked about export growth and diversification;
4. That is why he talked about accumulating international reserves;
5. That is why he talked about his determination to stamp out rampant corruption as part of good governance practice.
These were the conditions together with market forces, austerity and trickle down that were imposed by donors including IMF and World Bank which Uganda adhered to rigidly with serious social and environmental costs that he left out in his address. In other words, Museveni was saying that he did religiously what the donors wanted him to do except stamping out corruption which he has begun addressing and calling on the resumption of aid and technical assistance.
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 promised to correct wrongs previously committed in land ownership that had disadvantaged real owners especially peasants. He also promised he would balance production of food for domestic consumption and agricultural commodities for export. He promised to end suffering of Ugandans.
In practice NRM has done the opposite. More land has been taken from peasants. In 1989 Ugandans complained to the president on land grabbing by foreigners particularly Tutsi. In 1990 land grabbing was prohibited but there was no enforcement mechanism. And Ugandans have continued to lose land through fake willing seller and willing buyer concept; some land transactions are conducted at gun point.
People who borrowed using their land as collateral are failing to pay high and variable rates of interest and are losing their land. Expansion of municipality boundaries into rural land that converts peasants into tenants is causing a lot of problems as land owners are pushed off the land in the name of development.
Last year (2012) in his state of the Nation address the president stressed that the government was going to focus on developing the neglected some 70 percent of subsistence farmers. Soon after that Amama Mbabazi the prime minister announced that Uganda was introducing large scale farming to boost agricultural productivity because peasants had failed to do so.
Radio Munansi English Program on Jan, 27, 2013.
This is Eric Kashambuzi communicating from New York.
Greetings: fellow Ugandans at home and abroad, friends and well wishers.
By popular demand I have been asked to address the issue of NRM plan to limit population growth by legislation violating the right of Ugandans to have the number of children they need.
The subject was discussed on London-based Ngoma Radio on January 13 but it wasn’t exhaustive.
As a demographer, I have written and spoken a lot about population issues including birth control which is also referred to as family planning or reproductive health. Whichever word you use ultimately family size will decline.
Having children is a human right and coercive methods should not be used to limit it. Instead, information and facilities should be provided to enable couples decide on their own.
Until the story broke, NRM’s position was that Uganda still has plenty of arable land, meaning that more people could be accommodated. The president called on Ugandans to produce as many children as they needed and he would educate them for free. Based on this assurance, some leaders went ahead and expanded maternity wards or built new ones to cater for an increase in the number of pregnant women. Men were urged to do their job. If the law passes they can’t do it freely anymore as their leaders had suggested.
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 www.kashambuzi.com for easy reference.
There are reports including on Ngoma Radio that NRM government plans to limit children per couple to three. The argument is that land is limited and there is no room for more people. There is something fundamentally wrong with this approach. Here are some thoughts. Details of my work are posted at www.kashambuzi.com
1. UK which has the same geographic size as Uganda has twice the population size of over 60 million.
2. Netherlands which has one of the highest population densities in the world is cultivating less land than before because productivity is very high.
3. Uganda needs to increase agricultural productivity and reduce extensive agriculture of clearing more land for crop cultivation and ranches. Also Ugandans should be trained for work outside agriculture so there is less pressure on the land.
4. Uganda statements are contradictory. On the one hand NRM preaches that Uganda has surplus arable land and is encouraging a liberal immigration policy to bring in more people from outside. East African economic integration and political federation will allow more people to move into Uganda. It doesn’t make sense to restrict Uganda families to three children when we are encouraging others to come into Uganda especially from neighboring countries of DRC, Burundi and Rwanda.
Yoweri Museveni who has a medieval mentality of lords, knights and serfs the latter to remain un-empowered in order to labor for the lords and knights has been able to implement that ideology by adhering rigidly to the elements in structural adjustment program (SAP) that focused on economic theories of market forces and trickle down mechanism even after SAP was abandoned in 2009. Structural adjustment had three principal components that have hurt the future of Uganda youth – export of food, poor education focusing on primary education and labor flexibility. The youth can still recover its robbed future. It needs to understand how it was robbed in the first place. In this article, we shall focus on food and nutrition insecurity since 1987. As they say, life begins with breakfast.
Food and nutrition security: Until NRM government came to power in 1986, parents, governments and religious-based organizations paid attention to the value of food and nutrition security.
During the colonial administration, malnutrition largely through lack of sufficient protein intake was addressed through the development of fisheries including fish ponds to provide affordable source of protein. The government also set up nutrition facilities such as Mwanamugimu at Mulago Hospital to treat malnourished people especially children and train women in how to prepare balanced meals and serve them in a safe environment that included safe drinking water and good general hygiene such as washing hands before cooking and eating.
Here are the principal highlights.
1. The mysterious death of a twenty four year old member of parliament has cast a thick shadow over the credibility of the government. Rightly or wrongly, the people of Uganda appear to have made up their mind thereby denting the image of Tutsi-led NRM government. The puzzle that MP Hussein Kyanjo was poisoned remains unsolved. The latest scare that the vice president had been poisoned and had to rush to hospital has left Ugandans wondering who is safe in Uganda and abroad. The allegation of poisoning Ugandans needs to be taken up in 2013.
2. Politically, NRM fared badly in 2012. A new government within NRM government was formed by Ssekikubo, Baryomunsi and Nawagaba. The fight for presidential succession by the first lady, prime minister and speaker of parliament raffled NRM feathers. To put a halt to it, the president announced a year after he had been fraudulently re-elected that he was seeking re-election in 2016. The potential for NRM implosion shouldn’t be underestimated. Meanwhile, Museveni is grooming his son Muhoozi to succeed him, witness rapid promotions including the one conferred on him by the late Gaddafi. To keep NRM together and his involvement as chairman of regional organizations, Museveni is spending less time on Uganda’s economic, social and environmental development.