Sunday January 19 2014

Of Uganda’s unrealistic experts and specialists

By Prof George W. Kanyeihamba

Much of the retardation and ruins in Africa are the consequences of engaging bogus experts and specialists.
With all due respect, African heads of state and government and other leaders are not necessarily experts or specialists in anything other than what they may have studied, if any, at all, but nevertheless they have made themselves experts and specialists in almost every subject on earth. Yet, their specialisation is nothing more than their status and political power in their respective countries.

A specialist has been defined as a scholar or a professional who, having been trained in general principles of a given discipline, decides to abandon every other aspect of that discipline and selects a tiny bit of knowledge about it, studies it in depth and knows more and more about less and less until eventually he or she knows everything there is to know about practically nothing.
On the other hand, some African leaders who only specialise in the politics of manoeuvres and the art of staying longest in power use their status and importance to deceive themselves that it is not the experts who studied the subject in depth but themselves simply because of their political or military power and the fear of the real experts and specialists to dissent or oppose the mistaken news of their political masks, even though they are undigested, not tried and speculative or mere dreams paraded as researched findings.

At one time while in government, I differed from a leader who wished to advance and adopt his own wished policy that was unresearched, unhelpful and wrong but which differed greatly from what the specialist ministry had researched into and adopted the collective opinions of its experts in and outside the ministry.

I was reminded to remark that “If you own a dog, let the dog back for you, but never let other animals bark because they are not dogs. If the dog you hired cannot bark or bark correctly, hire another dog, but never bark yourself because you are not a dog. It cannot be treason to state boldly that yet many world leaders have often barked as if they were dogs themselves.”

Early this year, the offices of the Kampala Capital City Executive Director and the Lord Mayor, in unprecedented unity cried against an illegal structure now in its stages of completion at Hole No.12 of the Uganda Gold Club. The Club’s management petitioned against the same monstrosity.

The Inspector General of Government was asked to investigate. No one knows what experts or specialists she consulted, but as quick as a tennis ball, her verbal professional answer came back with the words, “The construction of the structure was approved”. She did not disclose who approved it. However, she totally failed to appreciate why everyone including NEMA and the Water and Sewerage Corporation were against it.

It is not because it had not been unauthorised but because it is offensive against the City’s Building Regulations. It is being constructed in a road reserve and is founded on a vital city water pipe. Investigations reveal that it was authorised by corrupted and intimidated city bureaucrats masquerading as specialists. False rumour had circulated that the construction belonged to a relative of the President.

This columnist met that falsely accused person, and he denied having anything to do with this illegal structure and I honestly believe him to be telling the truth. In a previous column, I bemoaned the fact that many illegal structures and developments are often attributed to the ownership or decisions of the President, the Prime Minister or their respective relatives, political friends or paymasters of political parties. When one UPDF General read the comment, he wondered why none of these leaders or their chosen spokespersons do not publicly deny these rumours.

One truth that cannot be denied by anyone is the manner in which this country lost billions of shillings on the construction of a second dam next to the Jinja Owen Falls as ordered by politicians and administrators against the clear advice of real experts in hydraulic power.
I, like so many Ugandans who love nature and beauty, miss the wonderful spectacle of waters that used to gush through the turbines at the Owen Falls bridges all because of politicians and intimidated bureaucrats masquerading as experts. God, the Almighty do save the Pearl of Africa from leaders who pose and act as if they are experts or specialists!

Prof Kanyeihamba is a retired Supreme Court judge.