Ugandan Diaspora News | Letter from the Editor | December 2012 | Reflecting On Uganda’s Golden Jubilee — 2012 The Year That Was!

Posted December 1, 2012 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Editorial ~ 3,261 views


Dear Readers,

Allow me to start by thanking the Almighty for his providence in 2012 (one month to go). But for Uganda’s government the year ends on a dissonant note, following the UN Report on the Democratic Republic of Congo scandals and dramatic cuts in donor aid to Uganda, a nation that depends on donor assistance for about 30-40% of its national budget. Uganda is not the only country in the region to have its foreign aid cut–a number of countries are withholding aid to Rwanda over its alleged backing of rebels in the DRC.

Of course, those opposed to receiving foreign aid will be quick to remind us that this aid is not needed; I too have my reservations on the aid we get from our development partners, since a huge chunk of this aid money always ends up in the hands of the expatriate workforce from the donor countries, much to our detriment, since these are loans we have to repay over the next couple of years.

Overall it has been a news-filled month. In the US, first came the elections that saw Barack Obama win both the popular vote and the electoral college vote to retain his 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue address, quite historic for a black man whose father was a student from Kenya.

Also noteworthy was last month’s new face in Uganda’s politics–Uganda’s longest serving army commander turned opposition politician, Retired Major General Gregory Mugisha Muntuyera. Mugisha Muntu, as he is popularly known, was elected President of FDC and will now lead the country’s biggest opposition party and be its flag bearer come 2016. In what was a tightly contested race, Mugisha’s win could be a game changer in Uganda’s presidential elections. Social media was abuzz with news and opinions following the announcement of his victory.

Another big news item last month came from the UNCTAD Report for 2012 that showed that Uganda’s remittances have now risen to 3 trillion shillings. In spite of a worldwide recession, Ugandans in the Diaspora have been growing our economy with remittances that continue to exceed direct foreign investment in recent years. According to the report, inflows from three countries are the source of 76% of Uganda’s total earnings from remittances: Kenya ($326m), United Kingdom ($176m) and the US ($87.4m). .

What has dominated the international coverage on Uganda as we come to the end of the year has not been our Golden Jubilee celebrations but rather the concern of how corruption has now become a way of life in Uganda, from securing government contracts to getting falsified academic credentials just to boost political prospects. It seems that everyone and everything in Uganda has a price — you just have to name yours. Corruption has so infiltrated every aspect of government that people have increasingly lost faith in the whole establishment, as reflected in the venting done through social media. The continued impunity of the perpetrators might be an indication of the danger of operating under a system of unchanging governance for this long.

A country that should be devoting resources to marketing Uganda as a major tourist destination in Africa and the world now has to divert funds to pay more PR firms to improve its image abroad, in the wake of all the recent scandals. Rather than build on the Olympic gold medal marathon win that gave us prime time access on a major world stage, the Ugandan government is now playing catch up, trying to assure donors that it is doing more to stamp out corruption and prosecute those found guilty of abusing public office.

I believe we need more Ugandan statesmen on the scene — people that can step up and inspire us while laying the groundwork for the next generation of leaders, as opposed to political hacks whose sole goal is to perpetuate themselves in office by whatever means necessary. Yes, we have been described as a docile people, but for how long must we stand idly by as corruption eats through the moral fabric of society? The fourth estate–the media– is hardly immune– it too has now been compromised, apart from a few independent outlets.

What Uganda needs today is a surgical operation to eliminate some of these kingpins who have been described as untouchable, either due to their rank or proximity to the center of power. In my view, it is this recurrent naming of “the usual suspects” that has everyone concerned, because they always bounce back, to the amusement and dismay of many. In online discussion forums, some have gone as far as wondering if the kinds of scams we have seen in Ministries like Public Service and Office of The Prime Minister will not be repeated in other Ministries like Defence, Health and Education, which command huge budgets and where no whistle blowers have stepped forward –only time will tell.

The other story is the policy to combat HIV and the spread of Aids in the country. Uganda has been celebrated in the past for its work in this regard, but according to some recent data, there is a resurgence of new infections, especially among married couples, perhaps a sign that the government is losing the war on this front. As we commemorate World Aids Day, let us be cognisant of the dangers that can arise from a promiscuous lifestyle.

On a lighter note, Ugandans from the Diaspora will descend on Uganda’s capital for the second annual Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala. This is an event to celebrate Uganda’s success stories abroad and to present an opportunity for local business owners in Uganda and those coming from the Diaspora market to connect and build on business and social partnerships.

This year the event will be held on 30th December at Kampala Serena Hotel with the official after-party at Guvnor, the leading night spot in Kampala. If you live in the Diaspora plan to attend, as this will be the official Golden Jubilee grand finale party. We shall be joined by Ndere Troupe, fashion designers and some Diaspora community leaders. I hope to see you there in Kampala as we network and grow the Diaspora base, whose remittances are now largely responsible for growing our economy exponentially in recent years.

This year also expect several Ugandans to embark on Diaspora Tourism since our friends and partners at Marasa lodges are offering Ugandans in the Diaspora a special discount rate to visit Mweya, Paara and Chobe Safari lodges. Those interested in taking their families on Safari can simply email me for a special discount code — experience the wild side of Uganda this holiday season. [This offer will only be subject to availability]

And finally, as we end the year 2012, may God prosper and “enlarge your territory”. I thank you for supporting us at the Ugandan Diaspora Networks and believing in this vision of telling our Diaspora stories. As part of our new products next year,  be on the lookout for our Quarterly Diaspora Magazine and Uganda’s NTV streamed LIVE News highlights. Wishing you and your families a Merry Christmas and a fruitful New Year!

Ronnie Mayanja
MSc. Comm. Boston University
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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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