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Letter from the Editor | Ronnie Mayanja | August 2011

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Posted August 2, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Editorial ~ 2,002 views

     

By Ronnie Mayanja | Editor, UNAA Times Online | Greetings from Kampala,

August finds me in this dusty place we call home, I am loving the nostalgic sounds of a place dear to my heart. Considering that It was only a few months ago that I was here moderating a panel of journalists and Uganda’s leading political commentators during the February elections. Upon my return I was looking forward to seeing if any changes promised in the candidate manifestos had been enacted. The good news is that the newly established Kampala City Council Authority under Executive Director Jennifer Musisi seems to be restoring some order in the city and so far some network roads and pot holes within Kampala have been repaired.

We in the diaspora keenly followed the ‘Activists for Change’ and their civil disobedience campaign to walk to work.
And so I came hoping to experience what was happening on the ground but instead found that people were going about their business like nothing ever happened. What will get the outsiders attention is policemen clad in riot gear and positioned in various locations around Kampala and her suburbs.

What perhaps has been quite surprising is the high commodity prices that have continued to bite those with shallow pockets. The gas or fuel prices continued to rise even as taxi drivers went on strike in protest. What has made a bad situation even worse has been another case of arson at Owino Market barely a year after last year’s inferno that left Uganda’s biggest market in ashes. Among the many questions that remain is why such a big market did not have 24 hour security in place to protect people’s investments and perhaps alert the fire brigade in case of a sudden fire.

On my part, last month had its challenges. First came the volley of malicious attacks on my personal integrity, and questions of what UNAA Times is and how it was started. For the record, UNAA Times Online is a separate entity from the Ugandan North American Organisation (UNAA). We are a Ugandan News Blog and registered as an LLC. Where we share similirities is in the focus to serve the Ugandan community and the fact that I have served as an elected official and volunteer for 6 years, representing the Eastern Part of the US. Every client we have dealt with has had the full knowledge that our news blog is a separate entity from UNAA the Organisation. Please take a moment to read about us on this Page: http://www.unaatimes.com/about-2/. Efforts were made by some members of the Ugandan Community to tarnish our image, but thanks to all those that came out and stood by our side to clear the air about the structure and the business we have done to advertise our international and local business partners.

Speaking of Scandals, News of the World, one of UK’s oldest tabloids owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, captivated the attention of the world. This hacking scandal was perhaps an indication of what happens when tabloids and politicians meet. The saga left the whole British political establishment shaken to the core and also caused News Corporation company shares to plummet. This saga left me thinking if this could occur in the UK, what does that mean for Journalistic excellence in many of Africa’s democracies where politicians with the deepest pockets get the “best” news coverage of the day?

This year folks in the UK will celebrate their very first UK Ugandan Convention on the 27th August at the Troxy in what will be a one of a kind event with an after party to remember. Last Month it was the Banyakigezi who gathered in Croydon, a London for the Banyakigezi Convention. Hopefully, many of you will turn up in huge numbers to support this diaspora event. [http://www.unaatimes.com/ugandan-diaspora/uk-ugandans/uk-convention/]

Next Month will be UNAA’s 23rd annual Convention in the Mile-high City of Denver, Colorado. Being an election year, I encourage as many of you as possibly can to participate in this process. As for me and my house, this will be my final term having volunteered and served in UNAA for the past 6 years. I believe it is about time to step back and allow others to lead this great organisation into its next phase of development although I will remain an active and committed member of the UNAA fraternity. [http://www.unaatimes.com/ugandan-diaspora/unaa-convention-2011/]

On a sad note the bombings in Oslo last month were a grim reminder of the post 9/11 world we live in today. Last month marked the first anniversary of the July 7/11 attacks that left scores dead after the Al Shabab terrorists bombings that rocked several surburbs of Kampala. Many are still grappling with the loss of their loved ones and now the a largely liberal peaceful Norway and home to Nobel Peace Prizes is grappling with their own home grown terrorist attacks. Our prayers go out to all those families members who have been affected either directly or indirectly by the state of affairs.

More Recently, Bloomberg news reported that the Uganda shilling was the worst performing currency against the US dollar with depriciation that fell below 11% percent in a period lasting over one month. Although Uganda’s New Finance minister announced new cuts in government spending during her budget speech, commodity prices are still on the rise today. Many are attributing the unstable currency to among other things, the recent purchase of new military jet fighters that Uganda imported from Russia.

It must be remembered that in 2010, Uganda’s Military spending totalled more than $450 Million dollars from last year’s expenditure of $328 Million dollars. An increase of more than 37%. But the procurement of $740 Million dollars from the central bank by the President without recourse to Parliament for approval left many wondering if there is any fiscal discipline in Uganda today. To some, the deal was reminiscent of the junk helicopter deal that cost Uganda more than $6 Million dollars when shoddy middlemen sold Uganda People’s Defence Forces military helicopters that could not fly. This kind of unprecedented government spending inspite of protests by teachers over poor pay yet they are the biggest champions of Universal Primary Education is quite astonishing.

In my view, Uganda needs a tighter fiscal and monetary policy in order to stabilise and redeem our currency that continues to perform negatively against the US dollar and other other regional currencies. The continued poor performance of the US dollar and the rising inflation, the worst since 1993 is hurting many of our local businessmen and affecting our balance of payments.

On a sad note, the Horn of African has been declared a disaster area due to the drought that has left millions in the region starving, causing a spike in food prices throught the East African region. The UN has declared this the worst drought in 60 years. Uganda as a food basket in the region, could be able to produce a surplus to cater for rising food needs in the region. But many of our agricultural policies do not favor our farmers to produce
for surplus especially now that Uganda has been experiencing a population explosion of its own in the recent past.

Finally its with great pleasure that I congratulate our Kabaka who at the end of last month marked his 18th Coronation anniversary as the Kabaka [King] of Buganda. This year’s celebrations were held at Kasangati where his loyal subjects converged to give tribute to one of the oldest reigning kingdoms in Africa. Awangaale Ssabasajja.


Ronnie Mayanja | UNAA Times Online | www.unaatimes.com |
Ugandan Diaspora Inc | www.ugandandiaspora.com |
Soreel Mayas Grafx Ltd | www.soreelmayas.net | UG Media |
USA | +1-978-235-2459 | Uganda +256-773-212-007
Skype | ronnie.mayanja | Twitter | @rmayanja |


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

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