Wednesday July 16 2014

Why farmers shouldn’t take politics for granted

By Michael J. Ssali

A local tabloid published an article last Wednesday that the Electoral Commission had finally granted permission to the National Farmers Party (NFF) to go ahead to collect signatures countrywide in order to register and battle for the 2016 general elections.

Your columnist is not out to rally support for the new party or to condemn its formation because Farmers Diary is absolutely non-partisan but it is important to point out that for a long time in this country and perhaps elsewhere in Africa, as far as politics is concerned, the farmers have behaved exactly like the tallest mountain in Africa.

Mt Kirimanjaro has stood tall and strong and looked at Europeans and Arabs plunder Africa -taking away its minerals, occupying its land without permission, colonising it, taking its people into slavery, and demeaning its cultural values without saying a word or doing anything to stop the evils. It continues to look on as we suffer from HIV/Aids, droughts, floods, poverty, and famine.

Majority farmers
Farmers make up about 80 per cent of the country’s labour force as another Kirimanjaro -but where are they in the country’s political leadership? They have allowed lawyers, soldiers, teachers, doctors and the others possessing A-level equivalent of education to decide their fate in an economy that totally depends on the farmers’ sweat. They have agreed to be bribed with small items like salt, sugar, a small piece of soap to vote into power people that will never mind if agriculture gets minimum national budget allocation.

They forget that if this country becomes unstable tomorrow, the lawyers, the doctors, and the teachers who are today their political leaders will go to other countries and get well-paid jobs when none of the farmers will be free to go with their coffee or banana gardens abroad.

Moving forward
As the elections approach, the best the farmers can do is to respect the electoral process and avoid participating in all illegal election activities. Let them join or form the parties of their choice but make sure they choose their leaders freely and in peace after very careful consideration.