Discussions about Uganda by Ugandans convey a simple message: there is anger out there. People have been hit hard (insanity, joblessness, alcoholism, domestic violence, jiggers, human sacrifice etc) and blame Museveni for this suffering. In Uganda culture, the head of the family has overall responsibility. He/she takes credit when things go well and accepts blame when they go wrong. They seek guidance on how to make things better. Similarly, Museveni as Uganda head of state has responsibility and accountability for commissions and omissions in Uganda. Like head of the household, Museveni should seek guidance on how to improve the desperate situation. Here are examples of the damage he has caused as president for twenty five years.
Damage number one: The first responsibility of the head of a family or nation is to make sure that every member of the household eats enough breakfast, lunch and dinner. Men travelled long distances in search of food when there was famine in their locations. Others committed suicide as punishment for failure to feed their families, demonstrating the importance of food security.
Under Museveni’s government priority has shifted from feeding Ugandans to feeding foreigners in return for foreign currency which is used to meet demands of the elite. Production for cash and not for the stomach is government policy. That is why food surplus regions have the highest level of under-nutrition because men and women spend time growing and selling food. When they have time, mothers prepare cassava or maize meal or children are left to fend for themselves. Hungry people are unproductive, weak and susceptible to all sorts of diseases. Hungry children cannot learn and end up a burden to society. President Museveni has categorically refused to support NEPAD endorsed school lunch programs because he is afraid school lunches will reduce food exports and foreign exchange.
Damage number two: Traditionally the head of household made sure there was land on which to grow food for the family. The man was responsible for clearing the field so that his wife and children can grow enough food. The woman was responsible for growing food for domestic consumption which was never sold. The man was responsible for cash crops.
Under the lure of demand and supply and transition from agriculture to non-agricultural enterprises, men are encouraged to sell land and generate cash with which to start business in towns. The outcomes have been disastrous: business has failed to take off for many and they have no land to fall back on. Many men have abandoned their spouses and children who live in hell.
Other parents sold their land and sent their children to school in the hope that upon graduation, they would find work and support parents and siblings. Economic jobless growth in Uganda has left many out of work. Unlike in other countries in developed and developing regions, Museveni has refused to start public works: building roads, schools and clinics or reforestation to create jobs for the unemployed youth until the situation gets better. Instead he has produced rap music to divert attention during the campaign season. Meanwhile crime and sex work and the dangers involved have increased damaging Uganda’s social and cultural fabric.
Damage number three: In Uganda prices on all commodities including on essentials have been increasing pretty fast. The price of alcohol has increased very slowly if at all. Because of cheap alcohol, Uganda is number one consumer of alcohol in the world. To check alcohol consumption, government has been advised to increase the price to no effect. Museveni wants to keep Ugandans drunk in order to support his party for subsidizing alcohol. Drunken drivers are causing too many accidents that have resulted in loss of lives and serious injuries. Uganda holds the road accident record in East Africa, so we are told. Drunken husbands are stealing their spouses’ food to sell and buy alcohol. Apart from causing food insecurity, selling of food by force has resulted in increased domestic violence and even murder!
Damage number four: If Ugandans had been left alone, they together with their churches would have designed a good education system. Driven by a political motive, Museveni prematurely launched Universal Primary Education (UPE) which he has extended to secondary level without taking into consideration the disastrous outcomes at the primary level. University education which was a beacon of hope has been driven into the ground. Consequently, quality of learning has become a thing of the past. Many university graduates cannot even draft in proper English. Some employers are forced to send newly recruited graduates for training in basics which they missed at the university. Some people are earning degrees in very dubious circumstances. Consequently many graduates are functionally illiterate and unemployable. Those are Museveni graduates. For skilled jobs Uganda is increasingly relying on foreign workers.
Damage number five: Museveni has been vocal about balkanization of Africa into tiny states which are economically unviable and depend on donations with stiff conditionality including specialization on export commodities that suffer adverse terms of trade against manufactured imports. Yet in Uganda Museveni has done the very thing he opposes for Africa and great lakes region. He has single-handedly divided Uganda into many economically unviable tiny districts that are further subdivided into rural and municipal areas that they cannot survive on their own without central government support accompanied by conditions that benefit Museveni. At the same time he is pushing for East African economic community and political federation because larger entities confer many benefits. Regional interests have superseded those of Uganda with serious economic and social damage.
To conclude: The above illustrations convey one very clear message. Museveni knows what he is doing: weaken and impoverish Ugandans and govern them comfortably forever and ever. This is confirmed in a message circulated by Ugandans-at-heart forum: Prosperity Index has placed Uganda 99 out of 110 countries!
That is the Uganda of today that will definitely get worse with Museveni as president for another five years. Those who support Museveni, nationals and foreigners, must realize that they have damaged Uganda and the overwhelming majority of her people.