You want change? woo donor ‘partners’

Author: Phillip Matogo. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Government accountability was titled in favour of donor approval or disapproval.   

On Monday morning, it was reported that several pre-medical interns were arrested for organising a peaceful march to the President’s office to highlight their delayed deployment. They were arrested at the College of Health Sciences, Mulago, before they could even begin their protest. 

At this rate, if we even dream of having our issues addressed; we will have to wake up and apologise. 
Still, the pre-medical interns tactically blundered by attempting to march on the President’s office. 

That’s because President’s office should not have been the object of their actions. For neither the President nor his government is in charge of Uganda’s fortunes or the lack thereof. 

To be sure, they serve the transnational power structure that has its centre at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, the Group of Seven, the World Trade Organisation and a medley of other bilateral donor agencies. This power structure grew on our shores with an imperialist agenda in the shape of neoliberal socio-economic policies which entailed the deregulation of prices, interest rates, exchange rates, wages and labour markets and trade. 

These policies proved inimical to the post-independence one-party Ugandan State through their insistence on the liquidation of public enterprises, austerity measures and the retrenchment of public servants.  

Once these conditionalities were implemented under the conductorship of the so-called Bretton Wood Institutions, the London and Paris Clubs began rescheduling or cancelling our debts. 

Of course this neoliberal agenda, which started in the late 80s, caused all sorts of upheavals. 
But the donor agencies, although claiming they sought democracy, placed a premium on such managerial efficiencies at the expense of the democratic consultation that domestic interest groups called for. 

As a consequence, because the donor agencies were not interested in what Ugandans had to say against such reforms, they all but foreclosed debate on critical economic policy choices of the state.  

They thus gave carte blanche to the Museveni government to run roughshod over all those who opposed IMF/World Bank policies as buzzwords such as “consolidation” and “transition” were adopted by the donor agencies and adapted by the Museveni government. 

Transitional politics, it was assumed, would enable Museveni’s government conform to the requirements of neoliberal policies in a world that was no longer polarised by the Cold War. 

Cleverly, Mr Museveni used this so-called transition to outlaw all formal Opposition to his rule while consolidating his grip on power as donor agencies served as his cheerleaders and enablers. 
This is when the term “the new breed of leaders” sprung into our political parlance.

As external guidance on spending, cost recovery measures, the withdrawal of subsidies, imposition of new taxes, among others, were unilaterally introduced without the consent of Ugandans, a dictatorship took hold.

Concomitantly, technocratic enclaves headed by the Bank of Uganda, the Ministry of Finance and the Treasury accounted only to the donors; not the Ugandan people. 

Indeed, these bureaucratic arms of the State became independent organs of policy making that did not require any input from elected public officials, let alone the Ugandan people. 

Thus, as government accountability was titled in favour of donor approval or disapproval, Ugandans were shut out of decision making and the Museveni government ensured they stayed out as the armed forces served as guardians of this dispensation and all the corruption that came with it.

Ugandans were silenced by imperialism as the government became a utensil of the same. So, all those who hope to effect change in Uganda should storm the Bastille of donor agencies instead of their Ugandan chapter, otherwise known as government.

Phillip Matogo is a professional copywriter  
[email protected]