Comments on Uganda’s Jubilee Speech

On October 9, 2012, in a seven page speech delivered from Kololo airstrip, President Museveni who has been in power for more than half of fifty years of Uganda’s independence addressed the nation and the world. The first two pages of the speech were devoted to protocol requirements and listing invited dignitaries within and without Uganda. The third and part of the fourth pages were devoted to the list of ten strategic bottlenecks inherited at independence in 1962. Before making comments on the speech item by item, let me remark on three things.

First, because there was no agreement on the head of state at the time of independence, the Queen of the United Kingdom remained head of state represented in Uganda by the Governor-General. H. E. the late Mutes II became ceremonial president in 1963, not in 1962.

Second, since 1987 Uganda has been the darling of the west and has received generous donations in financial and technical assistance on a regular – not erratic – basis, at times receiving more assistance than the absorptive capacity. Development partners should therefore be congratulated for that generosity, although there isn’t much to show for it.

Freedom of expression will liberate Uganda

Countries that have progressed have had citizens that fought for their inalienable (natural or God given) rights and freedoms including freedom of speech. They have also taken risks. When you shy away from them chances are that you will remain behind. Some efforts create quick results – negative or positive – others take a long time. Sometime reversals occur. But a start has to be made.

Uganda has just ended fifty years of independence. The overall assessment is that things haven’t happened the way we wanted them. That means we have to revisit what we did and find out what we need to discard, refine or retain as is.

One of the common complaints in Uganda is the system of governance that has concentrated power in the central government and suffocates efforts for regions or districts to decide what they need to do to improve the quality of their lives. The tier system that Uganda has introduced through decentralization is not sufficient because the central government determines what states/provinces or districts should do and the minister of local government is empowered to take decisions that could frustrate local initiatives.