Thought and Ideas
Museveni, Kadaga clash over Nantaba
Posted Sunday, October 21 2012 at 01:00
The charade that is political leadership in this country seems to get more and more humorous. Like he’s been wont these last few years, the President appointed another unqualified person, at least according to Parliament’s Appointments Committee, to his Cabinet. Aida Nantaba’s nomination as junior minister of Lands was rejected because of questions over her academic qualifications and the way she conducted herself before the committee but, instead of leaving it at that and getting a replacement like he’s done for those rejected before, he is now battling MPs.
The standoff pits the President against the Parliament Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga. Kadaga rejected pleas by Museveni to reconsider the committee’s decision, saying he had asked Nantaba to apologise to the committee.
Kadaga refused to reconvene the commission and said the matter should come before the House, which the President seems not to like. He’s now threatening not to swear in Cabinet unless Nantaba is approved. Only the President seems to think Nantaba is that special. To the rest of us, she’s some random, poorly educated woman appointed to an unwieldy and ineffectual executive. We don’t want nor need her! But then, when have our wants and needs been a factor in these things?
A turn of the page for venerable Newsweek magazine
On Thursday the Daily Beast, the online news and opinion website which took Newsweek under its wing, announced that the venerable news magazine, Newsweek, will publish its last print magazine on December 31st this year. After that, according to the statement signed by Tina Brown, the editor-in-chief and founder of The Newsweek Daily Beast Company, also the woman who tried her very best to turn the even more venerable New Yorker into a sensationalist, middle brow rag, “Newsweek will transition to an all-digital format in early 2013.”
Locally, Newsweek was one of the three easily accessible news magazines, together with Time Magazine and The Economist. Long before the internet, it brought world events closer to us in quality and intelligent journalism. Yet, along the way, when increasing and cheap internet access made buying a print magazine uneconomical, alliances shifted online.
But, Newsweek Daily Beast’s decision was not prompted by its marginal market in sub-Saharan Africa (where the future of print is still rosy) but by the “challenging print advertising environment” in the USA where it sold most copies. Transitioning the magazine online and putting most articles behind a wall thereafter was the only option if they wanted to make money off it.
Children repeating classes despite UPE’s automatic promotion
According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report – it compares the competitiveness of world economies and provides benchmarking tools to identify obstacles to improved competitiveness – ‘health and primary education’ is one of four basic pillars of competitiveness which factor-driven economies, usually developing countries like Uganda, have to meet before they can progress to the next level.
The next level, since our President has been going on and on about “middle-income economy” and “Uganda will be a first-world country in 50 years,” is the efficiency-driven stage of development. At that stage, where South Africa currently is, countries start to “develop more efficient production processes and increase product quality.”
But before we get there we have to have met the pillars of the first stage. We haven’t, and are not about to, especially with the dismal state of our free universal education schemes. A report examining the schemes says funds are being “wasted” on children who repeat classes after failing due to poor standards, and that the Education ministry should stop this because it wastes money. UPE and USE are not about quality: they were probably vote earners, are poorly run and are wasteful because of corruption. Continue deluding yourself then with your first world dreams.
Report finds fewer poor Ugandans
Well, this government is damning a whole generation by subjecting them to below par and opportunistic universal education schemes. The wiser thing would be for parents not to subject their children to the graft-ridden and mismanaged institutions and instead pay for them in schools that truly educate them. Problem is most Ugandans either live in poverty or are just hovering below the poverty line; they don’t have much choice but to opt for UPE and USE.
A report released on Wednesday offered what’s on the surface good news: the number of Ugandans who are chronically poor and live below the absolute poverty line has dropped by half, from a high of seven million in 2005. Even then, according to the Uganda Chronic Poverty report, “nearly 10 per cent of the households continue to live in persistent or chronic poverty.” The report faulted government’s poverty eradication policies for not doing much to help the situation.
They are “homogenous” and instead benefit relatively well-to-do households while ignoring those living in poverty. In short, they are not well-thought out and are poorly implemented. The first because they are always designed to win votes; the second because it’s a broken system. Worthwhile initiatives, that is.