The hits, misses in Museveni’s speech

President Museveni and wife Janet (front row), together with  Speaker of Parliament Anita Among and Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa at Kololo Independence Grounds ahead of the address on June 6, 2024. PHOTO/frank baguma

What you need to know:

  • President Museveni yesterday delivered the anticipated State-of-the-Nation Address.
  • While the Head of State offered insight on some fundamental issues and availed a way forward for them during his televised address at Kololo Independence Grounds, he hardly indulged in other pressing issues affecting the country. 

President Museveni yesterday delivered the anticipated State-of-the-Nation Address. While the Head of State offered insight on some fundamental issues and availed a way forward for them during his televised address at Kololo Independence Grounds, he hardly indulged in other pressing issues affecting the country. Daily Monitor’s Esther Oluka captures some of the hits and misses.

Waging war on corruption
Over time, President Museveni has spoken about corruption. This time again, he dwelt on the subject, including singling out a syndicate involving the Ministry of Finance, and Parliament as well the staff at State House taking bribes from investors so as to grease the path of fixing crucial meetings.
Mr Museveni vowed to crush the corrupt, including public servants, political leaders, and other actors that get enticements from foreigners to work for foreign interests. 
“These are both corrupt and traitors and we are monitoring their activities. If they do not stop; and with evidence, we shall deal with them,” Museveni warned. 

Extortionist moneylenders
To stop the moneylenders taking advantage of desperate Ugandans and charging them high interest rates, Mr Museveni said he had directed the Finance ministry to cap the interest rates to limit the exploitation of Ugandans. 
“I have already directed the Minister of Finance to cap the interest rates chargeable by moneylenders. The inflation rate in Uganda is 3 percent. Why should the commercial banks charge 20 percent interest?” he wondered. 

Hope for traders
Traders in Uganda have a reason to smile after President Museveni alongside his Kenyan counterpart William Ruto agreed to remove non-tariff barriers on particular commodities to ease cross-border business on both sides. 
The non-tariff barriers have for years been obstructing trade between Uganda and Kenya, with the latter on several occasions blocking Ugandan commodities, including eggs and milk from entering their country.  

The two countries have, however, been trying to iron out their trade differences, including at last month’s meeting between Mr Museveni and Dr Ruto in Nairobi, Kenya. 
Mr Museveni resolved, in his address: “Let all the East Africans insist on full free trade in the EAC area and, eventually, in the whole Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).”  

Protection from foreign interests
On June 3, during the Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations, Mr Museveni warned that some actors fighting the country and its leaders over the May 2023 enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act will fail.  The Head of State echoed a similar message in his address yesterday. 

“The corrupt are like foreigners, some of whom do not know Uganda. I am very sorry for them because they do not know how strong we are. But if you make a mistake, you will see. Those who threaten us, you are wasting your time…. We are not going to move. This is our land. We want nothing from anybody...,” Mr Museveni said amid cheers. 

Pushing for wealth creation
President Museveni has been a long promoter of wealth creation in the country and has unceasingly urged Ugandans to fight poverty through agriculture. 
He tasked Ugandans again yesterday to engage in wealth creation through commercial agriculture using funds from the Parish Development Model, Emyooga and loans from the Uganda Development Bank . 

Sanctions against government officials

Following sanctions slapped by the United States and the United Kingdom on senior Ugandan officials, including Speaker Anita Among, President Museveni did not touch on the subject. 
Ugandans have been questioning what the asset, financial, and travel freeze mean not only to Ms Among but also whether they would isolate Uganda as well, which answers they eagerly waited to hear from the Head of State yesterday. All they got was Mr Museveni commending Ms Among and other Members of Parliament for their work. 

“I hear some people saying that [Speaker] Anita Among is perhaps not powerful enough because she does not undermine the Executive. But that’s not the case,” he said. 
“In the past, there was a risky and shallow tendency by some actors who tried to use Parliament to undermine the Ugandan revolution. This was a miscalculation that was provocative, but we managed to handle it, peacefully,” he added. 

High crime rate, security matters
As the rise in crime continues to rattle Ugandans, especially that involving young men kicking, punching and even hitting their victims, many expected the President to address the matter while availing solutions to deal with the perpetrators.  Curiously, the subject was hardly discussed mostly on what security organs can do on curbing the growing vices in the country.  

In a May 7 meeting with President Museveni at Kololo Independence Grounds, traders asked him that allocation of a centralised tracking of all invoices and receipts by specific Ugandans should be delayed because they did not understand it and was not user-friendly. But even with penalties scrapped, some traders yesterday waited earnestly to hear President Museveni giving updates about the Electronic Fiscal Receipting and Invoicing Solution. 

READ: Pay VAT, Efris has no problem- Museveni

High cost of living
The cost of living remains high in the country with the majority of Ugandans struggling to meet daily basic needs. Other essentials, including fuel prices, remain high. To cope with the situation, Ugandans expected President Museveni to address this matter but he did not incorporate it in his address. 

On jobs, poor roads
With high unemployment levels pushing the youth to engage in all sorts of crime, Mr Museveni did not address the issue. The youth have continuously cried out to the government to avail job opportunities, especially after leaving university with the desired qualifications.  

The current state of Ugandan roads continues to cause accidents, with 65 people reported dead and 338 attaining injuries between May 12 and 18. Even with the ongoing repairs in some parts of the country, the quality of work remains lacking. The President’s address, Ugandans deliberated on social media, should have also touched on the status of the country’s roads.