As Uganda marks the 28th NRM victory anniversary on Sunday, January 26, it is prudent to reflect on the essence of the liberation struggle that brought NRM to power in 1986. A sacrifice by a handful of patriotic Ugandans overturned the state of affairs in Uganda, liberating it from a state of mayhem.
When the NRM took over the governance of Uganda in 1986, the country was characterised by a state of anarchy, insecurity and economic breakdown. This was the basis for the establishment of the 10-Point Programme as a strategic action plan to deliver the country to the desired peaceful and economically stable state.
The tenets of the 10-Point Programme include: Restoration of democracy through regular free and fair elections; Restoration of security of all persons and their property; Consolidation of national unity and elimination of all forms of sectarianism; Defending and consolidating national independence; Building an independent, integrated, self-sustaining national economy; Restoration and improvement of social services and rehabilitation of the war-ravaged areas; Elimination of corruption; Settling the peasants that had been deprived of their land; Cooperation with other African countries, and adopt the mixed economy approach as the strategic model through working closely with the private sector.
The NRM has over time articulated this strategic plan into the NRM Manifesto with concrete deliverables. The government undertook strategic steps towards the economic rehabilitation of the country since 1986. The huge performance of the economy has seen a decline in the fraction of the population living under poverty from 56.4 per cent in the early 1990s to the current 24.5 per cent. Inflation has been controlled to an average of 5.7 per cent from 240 per cent when the NRM came to power.
Revenue performance has increased by about four hundred folds since 1986, ie from Shs40 billion in 1987 to Shs7.792 trillion now. Uganda is now able to finance most of it development projects. The World Investment Report 2013 categorised Uganda as the best country in which to invest in East Africa with the highest Foreign Direct Investment. Top on NRM’s agenda is ensuring a favourable investment climate.
Today, Uganda enjoys a democratic atmosphere where regular free and fair elections are held. The NRM has since opened up space for inclusive political participation in a multiparty democracy, a right that was visibly denied by the past regimes. NRM’s affirmative action on gender has lifted women, the youth and people with disabilities to the helm of leadership in the country and this has empowered them to effectively participate in the nation’s development agenda.
Ugandans today are enjoying peace, stability and security in the country. Lawless activities, including cattle rustling and rebel activities have been eliminated. Karamoja sub-region, through the disarmament exercise has since been rid of illegal guns.
Through government intervention, with support from development partners, the greater north and the Luweero-Ruwenzori regions that were ravaged by insurgencies, have greatly benefitted from a number of development programmes aimed at bringing them to the same level with the rest of the country.
The country’s security against any rebel threats is guaranteed under a highly professional army, the UPDF. Uganda is at peace with all its neighbouring countries and has made tremendous contribution to regional development under the East African Community (EAC) integration.
Road infrastructure is a priority area that has seen substantial progress. The energy and mineral development sector has also registered tremendous improvement. The NRM Government specifically designed a programme for extension of power to rural areas aimed at boosting local investment. Under the Rural Electrification Programme, a number of rural areas of Uganda have been connected to power.
Primary school enrollment has risen from 2.23 million pupils in 1986 to 8.337 million pupils today; secondary enrollment under USE now stands at 1.2 million students and university enrollment has grown from 6,579 in 1986 to 100,000 students today, an indication of great improvement in the literacy levels. The health sector has also registered a robust establishment of more health centres at the grassroots level, particularly health centre IVs and IIIs aimed at taking services closer to the people.
The 28 year journey of NRM has not been a smooth one though. There are still challenges in the health and education sectors. The battle to eliminate corruption is still on and will in the near future be completely dealt with.
This year’s anniversary will be marked under the theme: Joining Hands for a Better Future: NRM’s call to all Ugandans to work together for our Nation’s Destiny’.
This is an appeal to all Ugandans to unite for the development of our country. It is a call to recognise and take up our responsibility as Ugandans to uphold our national values and national identity irrespective of tribe, political affiliation, religion or location for the development of our nation. The future of Uganda lies in the hands of Ugandans!
Ms Namayanja Nsereko is the Minister of Information and National Guidance