Monday January 2 2017

Daring to think and see a few things in the Uganda of 2017

 

By Bernard Tabaire

Uganda in 2017 won’t be any less interesting than it was in 2016.

Opposition FDC party’s defiance will continue along more or less the same lines, but who knows, more party types may dissent loudly like MP Abdu Katuntu just did. Watch out for those fissures, especially as people begin angling for 2021.

NRM will plod along, as will DP, with petty disagreements here and there. As for UPC, the fight could get uglier as the son claims the father’s mantle.

The ‘Rwenzururu Question’ will play out somewhat, but the relationship between the obusinga and the Museveni government is damaged kabisa. Don’t expect any meaningful repairs this year or even during Museveni’s time as President.

Some well-meaning person is already cooking up a national dialogue process to bring together Ugandans to talk about Uganda. Of course, NRM will not participate saying Ugandans are already talking about the future of Uganda through periodic free and fair elections.

Without NRM on the table, not a whole lot will be achieved, at least not in the short to medium term. It is still good that good people are dreaming patriotic dreams.

Within the government, big projects will continue being built and unveiled. With the big projects, public sector corruption will continue to grow. Organised criminal gangs, with suit-wearing actors, will continue to hover about menacingly looking to subvert procurement to line their pockets.

No one touches these commission agents and other thugs, so they get emboldened project after project. Who do they eat with for them to roam free pillaging and plundering? My little theory is that there is a large slush fund running in Uganda to aid political activities. The “mafia” that police chief Kale Kayihura says have infiltrated key State entities appear to operate under a well thought out umbrella.

We will hear more of Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo. By the way, President Museveni could transform this slogan into something real if he chooses. How about reporting to Ugandans every quarter what achievements the government has registered? This would force everyone who is working on Hakuna Mchezo to show results.

Who knows, steady progress could become more than just talk and transform into Kisanja Urgent Transformation.

On the economy, interest rates will not drop enough to make loans cheap. Those who want to expand their businesses will continue to suffer.

On the positive side, a couple of listings on the stock exchange could excite those of us interested in the business of shares.

The UEGCL and Cipla Quality Chemical Industry listings, when they come, will likely be oversubscribed. That could be a very good thing once trading starts. Need I say it’s criminal for anyone to miss putting some money into an IPO?

Despite the shenanigans, I trust that Mr Andrew Rugasira will electorally chase Ms Olive Kigongo out of the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Dead wood needs to be buried.

The creative economy, so fantastically neglected by the NRM government, will continue to survive, and thrive in some cases. Comedy and music will especially continue to do well. Hit songs, most brimming with sexual innuendo, will hit our eardrums one after another.

Speaking of which, it was Mr Faisal Kiwewa’s distinguished achievement that he brought to town accomplished musician Geoffrey Oryema, nearly 40 years after the man fled following the murder of his father. Attending his concert last month was one of my highlights of 2016.

Apart from yet another edition of the Bayimba International Festival of The Arts, I shall rely on Mr Kiwewa to pull another high quality cultural surprise.

What else? Oh, there is social media. It will grow and grow in 2017, with a distinctly Ugandan flavour: anything interesting happening in a country that is not Uganda will continue to be 100 times better than anything interesting happening in Uganda. And Uganda will be declared failing and failed and miserable.
I have written before applauding Ugandans’ way of beating up on themselves, not wrapping themselves in the flag, as a way to get us to do better.

With social media, though, I think this has become a debilitating sport. You are seen to be contrarian and speaking your mind the more you trash Uganda.

Even if The Cranes come back with the Afcon trophy from Gabon in February, someone will find a way to say The Cranes actually didn’t win, that the trophy was stolen from high-achieving Rwanda or Kenya, even if none of those countries is participating in the “continental showpiece” tournament.
Personally, Kilimanjaro will be done in 2017, dead left knee or not. Many in my party with whom I conquered Rwenzori in 2015 scaled Kili last year. Me also!
Let’s get going with this fresh year.

Mr Tabaire is the co-founder and director of programmes at African Centre for Media Excellence in Kampala.
bernard.tabaire@gmail.com
Twitter:@btabaire