Export of our girls is a dent on our conscience

Author: Joseph Ochieno. 

What you need to know:

  • In America, sitting presidents are judged by how many jobs are created.    

Last weekend, I was at Entebbe International Airport. The staff were very generous to me, including those who did not necessarily know or recognise me, but I left a sad man. In a short while, I saw no less than six groups of mainly young girl, wrapped in Islamic head gears, uniformed and in some cases with Gulf States national flag colours.

They would arrive, filed as if military parades or school assembly queues, and were led to check-in spots with passports in hands of their handlers as if commodities. Absolute business, it is. And they kept coming.

I have on previous occasions intervened – personally and directly – when approached by a mother of two I had never met, but thanks to Facebook, she was being abused in a Gulf State. Restricted not to leave her room and threatened with worse, I called her handler boss in Uganda but she was dismissive. 

I then asked the woman to be bold and tell her captives whom I was and that I wanted to talk to them. They refused. I advised that they would pay heavily should anything happen to the woman. At this stage they changed and the mother and daughter of the household both ‘apologised’ to her, but the man of the house did not. But at least, she was saved. 

That was a few years ago. Yet I have heard worse stories and I wonder, how did we end up here? When NRA shot their way into State power, they made several claims most of which – thanks to time that does not lie – have come to prove their froth. One of them was the so-called 10 Point Programme. Objective No. 5 is allegedly to construct ‘an independent, integrated, self-sustaining economy’ that would stop the transfer of our resources abroad. It is now 36 years and counting, nearly 40 at the end of this Parliament, what happened?

Every sensible government’s economic handbook is diction-driven, wrapped in values and driven by fiscal and monetary policy principles. While monetary policies are about supply and control of monies in circulation, fiscal policies are about how governments apply revenue collection and expenditure to impact on or rather, direct a country’s economy for the benefit of the citizens.

The six principle objectives of any fiscal policy are economic growth, full employment, debt-control, management of inflation, economic redistribution of wealth and politics. The politics is the ideological or, deliberate leadership decision making process of how the other five are determined and or, the resultant reaction by the citizenry say, on a rising unemployment or retarded economic growth.

This regime shouts loudest about security and economic growth yet one of its most eminent citizens, Dr Kizza Besigye, cannot walk freely into Kampala even if it were for physical exercise of a former soldier on the one hand, nor can it explain the destination of wealth out of the alleged economic growth in the absence of full employment. 

For the record, when they came to power in 1986, all university graduates received interviews for jobs in government and major financial institutions. Granted, they will claim population growth and yes, so has been economic growth too, allegedly!

With public debt now more than 50 percent of the GDP, readers are reminded that in America, sitting presidents are judged by how many jobs are created in the economy on a monthly basis and indeed, level of unemployment.

From child labour to slave labour, Ugandans deserve to challenge and ensure that their children go to school to graduate into effective owners of their national wealth, and destiny for posterity. 
Normalising export, abuse and exploitation of our (mainly) girl children in the Middle East must be condemned by every sensible Ugandan. It is criminal.

The writer is a pan-Africanist and former columnist with New African Magazine                      [email protected]