Yesterday, President Museveni delivered the State of the Nation Address to Parliament. The Address once again clearly enunciated where we have come from, where we are, and where we need to go- in terms of national development policy.
Further, the President stayed within the NRM Government overall strategic sector prioritisation focus, covering the period 2011/2016. He has outlined this extremely clearly several times over, including during the launch of the 2011 elections NRM manifesto. The strategic sector prioritisation focus covers the following:
“Expanding electricity generation to 3,800 MGWS; Tarmacking and reconstructing the roads indicated on many occasions; Repairing the railway using UPDF Engineering Brigade; Prosperity For All through agriculture - leading to the reduction of the subsistence sector and expansion of commercial agriculture; Value-addition to all agricultural products that are not eaten fresh; Industrialisation, the promotion of cottage industries, the setting up of ICT parks and the expansion of the optic fibre backbone infrastructure to the rest of the country; Expanding education infrastructure, the building of technical vocational schools, continuing to spread schools to all sub-counties, etc”.
“Continuing to expand and ensure the optimal use of the health infrastructure at sub-county levels and below; Continuing to expand piped water to more towns and trading centres and expanding safe-water coverage in rural areas; Irrigation - mega and micro - mainly for agriculture; Developing our petroleum resource - through building a refinery, etc; Ensuring a living wage for all the public servants by continuing to improve their salaries - as the economy continues to grow and is eventually transformed”.
“Working for the political Federation of East Africa along with our partners in East Africa to guarantee our strategic security and long-term sustained development”.
On the eve of the address however, there had been a lot of discussion on what should and should not be its focus: KFM and others hosted a debate on the economy, while several leaders were quoted in the New Vision of Tuesday June 5 as saying, “President should focus on economy”.
Said Dr Abed Bwanika, leader of the People’s Development Party (PDP): “Any serious head of state would come with … address containing solutions to Uganda’s economic problems. The rate of inflation is so high.” Hon. Wafula (Wafs) Oguttu, a senior official in the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) wants, “practical measures … to reduce poverty”. His senior colleague and my friend, Hon. Alice Also, was later to lament on TV, “Inflation is still in double-digit figures!” My friend Olara Otunnu, the president of the Uganda People’s Congress declared, “The State of the Nation is very painful and appalling!”
But, the real shocker was from Dr Aaron Mukwaya of Makerere University, who “does not expect President Museveni to announce any measures to cause a paradigm shift in Uganda’s public affairs”! Questions arise here: a paradigm shift from what to what? What is the architecture of the current “paradigm of public affairs”? What is the architecture of the “paradigm” to which Dr Mukwaya would have us aspire?
Politics and politicking aside, the Mukwaya dilemma sadly is the general philosophical and ideological dilemma of the African political class, elite and intelligentsia- what is the precise nature and essence of the problem we are dealing with? Fortunately, Museveni suffers from no such dilemma - he is very clear.
Is it a situation, an event or a process? Or a complex combination of these and other elements? Is the problematic a product of specifically a “Museveni phenomenon”, or does it have defining trans-regime and structural dimensions? Are the dimensions political, economic, cultural or spiritual, etc - or a complex combination of all these? Are there any benefits in doing a comparative study of the situation and condition of other African and emergent peoples? What is their common condition in the world division of work and market?
In a word, what construct or template lends itself in a fundamental sense, to the execution of a qualitative leap by the Ugandan and African people from backwardness, into the 21st Century?
Politicking aside, this is the backdrop against which the State of the Nation Address should be evaluated. If we ignore this, we cannot go beyond proposing objectively reckless and irresponsible populist and short term non-answers to the problems of our people!
Mr Mafabi is the private secretary/political affairs- State House.