Ugandan Diaspora News Editorial | February 2016 | Lets Hope For A Uganda That Works For All Come February 18th!

Posted February 3, 2016 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Editorial ~ 5,237 views



Dear Readers,

Greetings from Kampala,

It’s now less than 18 days to the next general election in Uganda. According to recent opinion polls, the President is in the lead in what some are calling questionable opinion polls. A part of me believes that these polls are meant to prepare us, the electorate, for the final outcome, while others will argue that the incumbent’s support comes from the grassroots and not urban elite/centers. In any case, it has become an increasingly divisive issue, judging from the wide poll margins. But given the surge in the opposition crowds especially the long time opposition candidate whose financial muscle does not even compare to say Museveni’s or Mbabazi’s some are showing serious doubts about these poll numbers. My prediction is that the incumbent will be extending his rule for another term based on the findings below.

Having stayed in Kampala for the last two months, I have witnessed first hand the incumbent outspending his opponents almost 10 times to 1. All government resources including in some cases civil servants, have now been deployed fully in partisan politics to deliver this victory. Suffice it to say the playing field is far from level and all the other presidential candidates are now struggling to catch up.

The government-owned media have also made it a point in some cases to deny opposition candidates airtime while blanketing the incumbent with all the coverage imaginable. Here I will partly fault the Electoral Commission for their failure to streamline the election act and the rules of engagement. Moving forward we need to see a revised electoral commission that allows for fair competition. While some still question its composition and the utterances made by some commissioners we wait to see how they will conduct this election.  The constitutional reforms are also long overdue to trim the powers of the Presidency just like Kenya did in 2010 that way we have a separation powers and system that checks the other branches of government. Should NRM win February 18th they will do so because they enjoyed campaign financing and other resources from the State.

The other factor causing concern is the deployment or call it adoption of ‘crime preventers’ or what some are calling ‘crime promoters’ as a way to counter the high unemployment rates and these by virtue of their training manual are taught that the peace and tranquility enjoyed is the product of NRM — so to say some see this as an attempt to rig through the recruitment of these youth groups that would be expected to favor/vote the incumbent.

On the other hand what I find disturbing is the insistence to stay on and to try and convince the masses that they NRM have a monopoly on good ideas of how to govern Uganda. It was sad to see the President skip the debate to sell his agenda to the electorate. The last time I checked the State of the Nation address was presented using State Media and not through peasant grassroots public forums. Many keep arguing that Mzee’s mandate is not obtained from the urban elite but the peasants population. I am then tempted to ask if the same peasants informed his decision to go to the bush in 1980 after a rigged election that Museveni had not lost but chose to redress!

Equally noteworthy has been the lukewarm reception the NRM 30th anniversary celebrations received. One would have expected the NRM ideologues to show us what the NRM has been able to achieve over the past 30 years, especially in transforming our society into a modern state. But instead they have deviated from their 10 point program and abused some of the clauses that formed part of their bush war doctrine. Today it is increasingly clear to some of us that the core foundation of the NRM was to capture power and to undergo economic liberation. True, we have peace and stability today but the wanton corruption and mismanagement of State resources has been a betrayal of the movement ideals. To further expose the dysfunctional nature of the party we saw first hand the in-fighting that rocked the NRM primaries as a sign that perhaps the party is greatly in need of internal reforms.

Today the NRM is reminding us that it has made “steady progress” in many sectors like the roads and regional referral hospital developments the government has now constructed but in as much as I appreciate all this and more I also know that it is the role of any government to provide its people with the basic services. It is therefore expected that after winning elective office the winning party then embarks on fulfilling its pledges to the people. In our case we have also seen many unfulfilled promises, the same recycled individuals in government as well the destruction of many institutions under the NRM watch.

For starters, our road infrastructure was inherited from the colonial era. Thirty years later, our road network has not seen any new additions apart from repairs of the same existing road network – with the actual improvement in this sector happening in the last 5 years. With the growing population you would expect that by now Kampala and other regions would see better urban planning and infrastructure developments across the country.

One might argue about the many things that have been mismanaged, from the botched sale of Uganda Commercial Bank to Westmont Land Asia. After UCB was recapitalized and it was then sold for less than $19.5 million dollars within a year after incurring several bad loans involving top government politicians. This botched privatization process also saw our national carrier ‘Uganda Airlines’ collapse and its ground handling services divested to individuals with connections to the corridors of power.

From hospitals without medicine, a youthful population of more than 70 percent believed to be less than 35 years, this is a sign perhaps that some key sectors are non-functional, from family planning to an over-burdened healthcare system. This state of affairs has in turn impacted our education system that is now churning out job seekers rather than job creators. With youth unemployment at 85 percent an all time high we have now seen graduates settle for odd jobs overseas were some Ugandans experience abuse and even enslavement!

And so as we head to the polls I hope that our electoral commission and those threatening violence on either side of the divide will remember to put the people first. For 30 years is a long time to throw away the gains that have been made but let us remind the regime apologists that once elected, the President must be a leader for all Ugandans. But also in the same breath lets allow the population to exercise their fundamental right to vote those they think will effect the change needed to move the nation forward.  My concern is how we shall redress the infrastructural breakdown that has now led to indifference and entitlement among so many. Look at the lack of discipline on our roads, cutting people off and the lack of office etiquette. Then we have the issue of patriotism–how many of us are Ugandans at heart that we will do whatever it takes to protect the interests of Uganda and her people at all costs.

The culture of bribery now permeates every aspect of our society from the civil service to members of the fourth estate and the judiciary, these have not been spared the cancer that is eating away at every institution largely because everything in Uganda today is for sale to the highest bidder, including votes. The latter partly explains why we have more clowns standing for elective office. The type of candidates our political process is attracting today is a sign of the changing tide that seen the middle class diminished for the loudest cheerleaders who seem more catholic than the pope.

On a personal note, I know not all is lost — I am dreaming of a Uganda that works for us all. I was particularly happy to see the first ever televised debate, especially the performance of Major General Benon Biraaro and blood relative, Presidential candidate Dr. Abed Bwanika. I await to see the outcome of the second debate to lock in my candidate – To me this election is a litmus test and a report card on the incumbent’s 30 year Presidency. In my view the EC should have championed the debate instead of civil society as way to weed out these political merchants that now make their living off politics and are heavily responsible for monetizing the process. Sadly I hope the failure for The Democratic Alliance (TDA) to field a single opposition candidate might not come back bite the opposition as the best opportunity they had to defeat the incumbent and set Uganda on a new course. This too exposed the lack of internal democracy and the selfishness within the opposition circles.

The renegade general Sejusa is now on remand at Makindye barracks in an ongoing military court martial hearing after making what is believed to be subversive statements and allying with government opposition groups in contrary to the laws that govern active military officers. Sadly other active serving UPDF officers have made inflammatory statements in favor of the regime and worked away. This, together with Justine Lumumba’s statements and stories of the so called crime preventers meant to prevent electoral violence, have continued to plague the NRM party negatively. And so, as we await the outcome of yet another bitterly contested election, the NRM government needs to put in place a system that will ensure continuity should they lose or win and avoid the bloodbath that is now Burundi.

“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.” ― Abraham Lincoln

Please vote wisely — For God and My Country!

— Ronnie Mayanja
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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.


    Godfrey Mubiru Ssempebwa

    Thanks brother mayanja for this information, about our Uganda. We are praying God to rise up and revive it.


    I think the conditions given by IMF to our government to divest from doing business caused the sale of UCB , Nile Breweries , Nytil etc.
    While this was done and regretable, there is also good side and returns from it. The government has instead got more taxes and returns from this entities than it used to do. It only used to capitalise them every given year.
    Now our challenge should be how to put the returns to good use.

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