Museveni’s long term vision is to make Bahororo dominate Uganda permanently. But Museveni knows that Bahororo as a group are numerically insignificant that even if their women bear children to the limit of their reproductive capacity they will never attain a critical mass for political domination. Museveni also knows that the military he has used so far has inherent weaknesses that it cannot be relied upon as an instrument of domination by Bahororo in the long term. Further, Museveni has realized that poor and hungry people he has created produce more children than wealthy ones he has also created through skewed distribution of income in favor of Bahororo (Museveni is a Muhororo). He has therefore come up with a silent strategy of increasing the number of those immigrants (particularly Somalis and Tutsis) likely to permanently support Bahororo who will also be encouraged to produce as many children as they can while reducing the number of majority Ugandans through birth control, among other measures. To those not familiar with subtle developments in Uganda this observation may sound mean but that is the truth in Museveni’s country.
Since poor people send their children to public schools, Museveni announced around 1996 that the government would provide free primary education to four children per family. Ipso facto parents would be responsible for education of extra children. In order to eliminate this burden, the population secretariat and other stakeholders began to preach the virtues of family planning and to provide free contraceptives to prevent conception among poor people. Consciously or otherwise Museveni launched a birth control program for the poor without ever mentioning it as such.
To accelerate birth control among the poor who form the majority of Ugandans (over fifty percent of Ugandans live below the poverty line of $1.25 a day), the 2010 report on Uganda’s population was prepared in such a way as to make a case for urgent birth control. It is reported that total fertility rate (the number of children a woman can bear during her reproductive period) has remained at 7 children when in fact it has declined to 6.5. It also recorded that the contraceptive prevalence rate is still at a low level of 23 percent without indicating that it has increased from 15 percent. It also mentioned a dependency ratio of 115 percent (one of the highest in the world) without indicating the age groups in the young and old categories that depend on economically active adults.
All this is happening when Museveni is still preaching large family size presumably for the rich mostly Bahororo and their cousins who can afford many children while the population secretariat and other interested groups are urging the poor to practice birth control because they cannot afford a large family. This is penalizing the victim because the poor have been impoverished through exploitation and neglect by Museveni’s government. If poverty declines, girls stay in school beyond primary level and women are empowered, which the government has been unable or unwilling to do, women would take appropriate steps to manage their reproductive behavior, determine the number of children they want and how to space them freely.
I have since 1997 written a lot about development challenges including population facing Uganda particularly since 1987 following the launch of structural adjustment which has done greatdeal of damage to the livelihoods of Ugandans twenty percent of whom are believed to have become poorer and the general welfare has not reached the level attained in 1970.
The purpose of writing has been to share with a wider readership what I have learned at school, at work and in spare time. My approach is dialectical. I look for those issues that are accidentally or deliberately left out of development discourse because that is where the truth is mostly found.
I trust that through open, substantive and civil debates Ugandans can confront the challenges and find solutions. The purpose of debates is not to pick winners and losers; gain or lose credibility but to find common solutions. Most of the challenges and solutions are known. Uganda has lacked leadership at the executive and legislative branches of government to act. This has been particularly the case since 1986 despite the fact that Ugandans and the international community created an enabling environment for NRM which has had different priorities. The NRM government has let the majority of Ugandans down. The evidence of failure is everywhere for all to see in town and rural areas. As a result, Uganda has quietly dropped off the international list of high economic, social and ecological performers. This observation is no longer debatable.
UAH forumist working with United Nations in New York