Thought and Ideas
Happy 51st birthday to Uganda, but are we united and free for liberty? (Part II)
Posted Sunday, October 13 2013 at 01:00
In the first part of this opinion, we argued that Uganda’s fundamental problem is the unwillingness or inability of her political leaders to rise to the responsibility and challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of good leadership; in other words the inability to walk the talk.
Ugandans have since 1962 witnessed leaders who preach patriotism; denounce tribalism and sectarianism and preach zero tolerance vis a vis corruption, but in practice some of these leaders are hard core tribalists and even clanists! They are corrupt and condone corruption by their cronies which leads one to pose some critical questions for the intelligentsia and intellectuals of Uganda.
What is the purpose of seeking political power? Why do people seek political office? Why do some people want to rule? How can we save Uganda from becoming a failed State?
Most politicians will readily give misleading answers to these questions and the common one being that they want to serve the people or the wananchi. Some have compared the desire to rule with hunting and argued that a man who has successfully hunted his animal should be left alone to eat the meat; nobody should disturb him or tell him to leave when he is still eating. I have frankly never heard anything so strange!
The sad truth is that politics has now become the most lucrative business in Uganda and much of Africa. Can you imagine a part time job where the minimum qualification is a Senior Six certificate with no previous experience and the starting monthly pay is between Shs20 million to Shs30 million; plus a free car, a host of allowances, including a sitting allowance for every meeting and a generous pension scheme!
There are, however, some exceptions to this scenario. Mallam Aminu Kano of Nigeria was a politician who walked the talk. He practised what he preached until his death. He was a clean and visionary leader in one of the most corrupt countries in Africa.
The first Prime Minister of Nigeria, Alhaji Sir Abubaker Tafawa Balewa, paid him this a glowing tribute; he said if Aminu Kano had become Nigeria’s prime minister, he would one day carry a placard and join a protest march against himself.
In other words if he discovered that power had corrupted with transformed him from a liberator and a man of the people to an oppressor of the wananchi, he would promptly renounce his position and declare war on himself!
That is a challenge for many contemporary African leaders who have mutated from liberators into classic enemies of the people! Many behave as if the wananchi owe them a living!
The third lesson Ugandans should learn from our history is that we must promote gender equality and provide youth employment for the good of our country. Women constitute more than 50 per cent of Uganda’s population and, in addition, ours is a predominantly young, energetic and potentially productive population. Government must develop the potential of the women and youth to the maximum and use it for national development.
It is tragic that the NRM regime has not effectively mobilised and utilised the youth for national development.
The fourth lesson is the urgent need to eradicate the endemic and systemic corruption which has destroyed the moral fibre, body politic and soul of Uganda.
I recently read in a local daily a story about how children in one of Kampala’s elite primary schools now routinely buy votes with sweets and even cash to win elections for the positions of head boy, head girl and prefects. Such is the tragic and enduring legacy of the NRM regime! Everything is now up for sale or for grabs to the highest bider.
Corruption should not be allowed to undermine, ruin and compromise the future of Uganda, especially the future of our young people. Ugandans should not condone corruption whatsoever.
The challenge of good leadership is critical in ensuring that Ugandans achieve the lofty goals we have set for our country in Vision 2040.
According to the African Leadership Index of 2012, only seven African leaders score “B” or above, namely, the presidents or prime ministers of Mauritius, Botswana, Cape Verde, Seychelles, Namibia, Ghana and South Africa. Six African leaders scored “C”, namely, Tunisia, Tanzania, Senegal, Morocco, Sao Tome and Principe and finally Lesotho. Uganda scored a dismal “D”. Until and unless most African countries, including Uganda, get better leadership, our hopes of moving up to middle income status will remain a pipe dream.
Mr Acemah is a political scientist, consultant and a retired career diplomat. email@example.com