Gen Salim Saleh’s lamentations paint a grim picture of our politics

Sunday July 21 2019

Victoria Nyeko

Victoria Nyeko  

By Victoria Nyeko

Gen Caleb Akandwanaho, aka Salim Saleh, recently attended the burial of Mzee Savio Ojok Awany, the father of commander of the Reserve Force, Lt Gen Charles Otema Awany.
The burial ceremony was held at Tangi village, Purongo Sub-county in Nwoya District. During the burial, different public personalities addressed mourners.
A memorable speech came from Gen Salim Saleh, who is also the national coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC).
Gen Saleh said: “Gen Otema, let’s leave politics and we go for cows and cassava because all that politics is composed of are lies. Focus on how you can create wealth for yourselves and the people in this region in an industrial way using your capability... You want to attribute yourself to the middle-class who have completely detached themselves from our system and have messed up my operations at Operation Wealth Creation?”
Gen Saleh did not identify specific politicians involved in the composition of the ‘lies’ arena. The general’s comments give the impression that due to the sophisticated composition of our political leaders, many Ugandans will continue to experience poverty.
Many families in different parts of the country might continue languishing in poverty while waiting for government to provide sustainable economic development. The general’s comments also create the impression that every Ugandan must face the reality that they are on their own. Therefore, people should begin to find different alternatives, using their own capabilities to create wealth and not wait for government programmes such as OWC.
If the perception is true that the success of OWC has been hijacked by unknown people and subjected to failure intentionally, then there could be a case of economic sabotaged, a deliberate effort to portray NRM negatively.
Furthermore, the comments also present a multitude of frustrations and disappointments for many Ugandan taxpayers. Many people feel a sense of frustration since their tax contributions for the last 33 years seem not to be used effectively for economic development and poverty alleviation.
Gen Saleh’s comments also suggested that the middle-class have completely detached themselves from our systems and messed up OWC. Some people kept wondering who exactly these middle-class individuals or groups are that wield such powers and cannot be held accountable, and continue being given the freedom to determine the success or failure of government programmes.
Ultimately, the unidentified middle-class seems to be holding the future of an entire nation at ransom. Ugandans no longer seem to believe in NRM’s ability to alleviate poverty through OWC.
Gen Saleh’s closing remarks captured the public’s mood accurately when he said, “like in OWC now, you give someone a cow, they abuse it because they take it to be NRM cow. Even when you give them a tractor, they will disown it saying it is NRM’s. This is a big blow to us now.”
The consistent lack of accountability from government to Ugandans; protection of individual interests in cases of corruption and poor long term planning may have resulted in NRM government’s increasing unpopularity.
Under ordinary circumstances, logic would follow that the ruling NRM government needs a complete political overhaul. However, the challenge seems far too great for NRM. It seems like an uphill task for NRM to re-boot and redesign a different mind-set in operations.
However, some people remain optimistic about Gen Saleh’s comments. Since Gen Saleh is a popular member of the NRM government, having played a significant role in capturing power 33 years ago, some people feel that maybe now a clearer solution can be drawn going forward.
It remains to be seen how the NRM government intends to win back popularity and public confidence.