Mr President, those small things do matter

Friday December 14 2018

President Museveni. FILE PHOTO

President Museveni. FILE PHOTO 

By Editor

On Wednesday, President Museveni and other leaders of some of the Opposition parties, including Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC), Democratic Party (DP) and Justice Forum (Jeema) met at the Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) summit at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala.
If any good had come from the summit, it was eclipsed by President Museveni’s speech in which he lambasted the Opposition of “talking about petty things – elections, who becomes who” instead of addressing themselves to the destiny of Africa. He then capped it by reiterating that he would be hanging around to accomplish the self-arrogated task of solving “the problems that nearly caused the African continent to perish”.
We do not doubt Mr Museveni. We believe he made the comments out of a genuine desire to improve conditions on the continent, but we at the same time know that solving the problems of Africa cannot be achieved unless what he calls small things have been addressed.
One of the continent’s biggest problems has been failure to fully embrace democracy. We always make laws to either suit or benefit those in power. The word ‘reform’ does not seem to have any meaning to those in leadership.
The Opposition has been demanding electoral reforms and the establishment of an environment that will make the political landscape level for all but to no avail. Without reforms, elections continue to come across as a ritual through which people can never express themselves.
Others outside government, but not necessarily in the Opposition, have also been calling for dialogue with a view of addressing the other problems, mainly economic. Among them is the high cost of fuel and electricity, which have upped the costs of doing business and industrial production, not to mention the stifling tax regime that the country has adopted. The response has always been that the country is not in a crisis.
It is impossible for one to solve the problems of the continent without first addressing the problems back home. We would like to believe that tackling the continents’ problems begins with creating a sense of belonging and unity, but how do you do that when you cannot address the things that seem to be causing a sense of exclusion?
Mr President, fixing Africa’s problems begins here and with those small things such as elections, how they are conducted and how we build a sense of inclusion. If we do not do that, we shall be behaving like the men who run to put out the fire on the neighbour’s hut when their own are also ablaze.