I take this opportunity to congratulate the NRM party for winning the recently-concluded elections. Indeed, Ugandans should take time to reflect on the contributions of the party in the liberation struggle for this country. I am aware that not all of us are satisfied with the outcome of the election results. However, it is also worth noting that in every game, there must always be a winner even if contention occurs.
Following its slogan, steady progress, NRM is walking the talk! A majority of us who were there in 1986 can vividly recall the level of Uganda’s economic growth and development.
Economic growth and development refer to quantitative and qualitative aspects of the economy respectively. If we are to consider our quantitative growth sector/industry by sector, indeed we can see how our economy has grown.
For example, when you look at the building industry, almost all towns and suburbs countrywide have had a face-lift in this area. The increased housing has improved standards of living for the citizens by generating income in form of rent and also decent accommodation for individuals.
Some of the existing road infrastructure has been upgraded to bitumen and new roads opened. This has provided farmers and business fraternity access to markets. Improved road infrastructure has also enabled government and development partners to take services nearer to the people. I would go on and on, sector by sector but the truth is available for us to judge. Of course, the most important is the education sector. Efforts have been made by government to ensure every citizen accesses this fundamental right.
It is also important to be reminded of the adage, even Rome was not built in a day, as we present our complaints and challenges to the government. We should appreciate that running government is like running a home. There is, therefore, need to ensure citizen’s demands are prioritised in order to have an effective and efficient use of national resources.
However, in all the above mentioned contributions of the NRM government, key among the shortcomings is government’s laxity in ensuring the rule of law prevails! Ugandans have taken the law into their own hands; and endorsed embezzlement of public funds as a fundamental right! People accused of embezzlement of public funds are often left scotch free. You may wish to recall concerns of all the presidential candidates regarding massive corruption. In my view, this is the centre of the citizens’ anger on the plundering of national resources by a few privileged individuals in government.
As you celebrate the achievements and contributions of the party, I implore you to re-examine the areas highlighted by your opponents and turn them into opportunities to consolidate your steady progress so that it reaches sustainable standards. Please take your earlier coming into government as a project. In the coming five years, ensure sustainability of the progress so far made before you disembark.
I am sure and also believe this is the last term of President Museveni in the NRM party. I say so because of one of the conditions in the Constitution on the age limit. According to his book, Sowing the Mustard Seed, Museveni was born in 1944 and by the end of his just acquired fifth term in 2021, he will be 77 years old, well above constitutional requirement of 75 years, which bars him from vying for the presidency.
On the losers in presidential and Members of Parliament, it showed that the electorate did not have trust in them. However, I have a reservation emanating from President Museveni’s ever cherished talk of ideology being the root cause of conflicts in society. Indeed, some of the reasons the electorate reject their representatives, in particular MPs, is ideological. For example, many of them were architects of the divisionism in the party, spent much of the time sleeping in the House without debating, to mention but a few.
However, it was unfortunate for the electorate in some areas such as Serere to have voted out Alice Alaso. Although I am not necessarily from that constituency, the electorates’ decision to vote Alaso out was purely ideological. Alaso, though in Opposition, has been a star performer on accountability issues. This is precisely the gist of my argument, urging government to focus on the rule of law so that those entrusted with public resources account for them so that the steady progress ultimately becomes sustainable progress.
Mr President, I listened to your press conference immediately after casting your vote in Kiruhura. Although at first you declined to work with the Opposition, you later had a second thought on condition that if an Opposition member is credible, you could offer him/her a job in your government. I implore you to examine some of these Opposition members and deploy them accordingly. They will perform beyond your expectations and even better than some of the NRM members who have been entangled in internal conflicts from time immemorial, engaging in cheap politics of intrigue. Such attitudes will inevitably take us back to the olden days.
Dr Okware is a lecturer. firstname.lastname@example.org