UGANDA today like some other African countries is still struggling with the aspect of a peaceful transfer of power. While within his own party, some members of parliament have openly demonstrated criticism over the faded-hope for the incumbent’s willingness to cede power, President Yoweri Museveni who has led the nation since 1986 is still adamant to the realities currently facing the nation.
From several of the past presidential campaigns for which he was seeking re-election, he had repeatedly stated that he needed to be re-elected get done with the unfinished business. It is now my wonder what this unfinished business is, especially because since 1996 when the country witnessed the very first election since his coming to power 10 years later, it is the same rhetoric we seem to hear from the benefactors of his leadership.
Since the president has, in the past, been heard on several occasion state that he is the only one with the “vision” to lead the country, something I personally refuse to believe given the talent I have seen among Ugandans both within the country, as well as across the globe, I would like the readers of this article to ponder on the facts relating to where the country has come from since 1986 and compare their findings to the progressions within the other countries for the same time timeframe.
For those who have not had the opportunity to travel, or read about the progress attained elsewhere, the internet has become a great resource for accessing the relevant information if and when well utilized. That said, I will take a moment to talk about “good governance and what it would means for national development.
While Governance is “the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented),” Good governance has been defined by international development scholars to describe how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources. According to the International Monetary Fund’s “World Economic Outlook Database,” – Uganda’s GDP estimates for 2017 stand at $27.6 billion; with $2.9 (World Bank – 2015) from International Reserves.
The recent talk of giving 30 million (about $8,460) to each member of parliament as fees for holding consultations on the upcoming debate on the removal of Article 302b of the Uganda Constitution which restricts the age of a contending president to not being above 75 years. This move calls into question the priorities of the Ugandan government and also seems to re-enforce the much looming talk of a desperate push for a life presidency by the current administration.
For the start, Uganda’s parliament with 432 MPs will cost the tax payers close to 13 billion Uganda shillings ($3,654,720). With the medical practitioners threatening to strike for a poor pay, it is imperative to assess their frustrations given their predicament since a doctor earning two million ($563) and a nurse Shs. 600,000 ($169) as their monthly salary, is a clear manifestation of the absence of decency among the decision makers of the nation.
With a primary teacher earning Shs. 279,000 ($79) and a secondary school teacher at Shs. 500,000 ($141) for their monthly earnings makes it impossible for the earners to attain the purchasing power that would ably afford them the constantly increasing cost of living in the country. As desperate as the earnings of the most important professions in the country, Uganda’s parliamentarian currently earns more than 30 million a month ($8,715).
I believe that no matter what their intentions are, every Ugandan should be proud of the parliamentarians who have openly rejected that money since it is such bold moves that may echo the delayed urgency for government to manage the government resources in a more resourceful way that benefits all Ugandans. While we are still a consuming economy, and our major economic resource being agriculture which may eventually face sustainability challenges given the impending environmental setbacks, it is worth noting that imports are paid in dollar terms, which mean that the conversions into local currency make it very difficult for many families to ably live above the poverty line.
With the above deductions, I believe that it is time the government rethought strategies for development since the current presence of upgraded infrastructure does not in any way represent the realities that reflect the common man’s economic progression. When the president talks about bringing change in his next political speeches, I hope that he remembers that, the current progressive trend is representative of the changes attained globally and that in some ways it is in no way a contribution of his government as he commonly states…, but a mere attribution attained from the global effects, and that if as a nation Uganda does not wake up to move along with the current innovations in technology, social, economic, and environmental inventions, the country will lag behind and in the end it will be the local population to suffer since the prevailing experiences have demonstrated that those in power are actually not impacted by the negative consequences affecting the popular masses.
When the parliamentarians earning millions are deliberating on national matters, they should remembers that the people they represent in the villages are not able to earn a mere Shs. 100,000 ($28) a month and that majority of them are not able to earn this throughout the year.