I, Father Gaetano Batanyenda, chairman of Kick Corruption out of Uganda, do hereby entreat you, Mr President, to either honourably accept the process of undertaking a political metamorphosis through a national dialogue or you surrender the people’s power for the good of Uganda and its posterity.
Mr President, when I look at Uganda today, many questions come to my mind. Is this the fundamental change that was promised to Ugandans on January 26, 1986, now baptised Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo?
Those of us who were there at that time and, by God’s grace, are still alive, did not comprehend what your intentions were. It is now 30 years later that we have come to decipher your harmful and dangerous hidden agenda.Your plans were and still are egocentric and malevolent, to say the least. With your fundamental change, Uganda is pitifully divided into two classes of citizenry.
The first class, to which you belong, is composed of the elite who are few, numerically, but dangerously-powerful, financially, intellectually stable and well-connected.
You have exerted your power and influence, through manipulation, intimidation, handouts, and unfulfilled pledges, among others, upon the unsuspecting poor and illiterate Ugandans who form the second class.
The latter are the biggest percentage of Ugandans who live a degrading and deleterious life. What is pertaining in Uganda today, because of your bad policies and cupidity, is a nasty, noxious glaring culture of segregation and discrimination between the rich and the poor.
Mr President, your government has totally and intentionally abdicated its responsibility of providing basic social services. From public transportation to health care, from education to social security, the only sign of life are the daily reports of scandals and theft, which have now graduated to looting and plunder – about which you either never take action or simply use your office to stifle the ends of justice.
In the 1995 Constitution, under the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy number XIV, it is stated: “The state shall endeavour to fulfil the fundamental rights of all Ugandans to social justice and economic development and shall, in particular, ensure that- (b) all Ugandans enjoy rights and opportunities and access to education, health services, clean and safe water, work, decent shelter, adequate clothing, food security and pension and retirement benefits.”
And article 21 of the Constitution also talks about equality and freedom from discrimination. Mr President, how do you rate yourself as far as the implementation of the above is concerned? I wish to candidly inform you, in case you don’t know or have not been told by those who ought to tell you, that it has been an unmitigated disaster, because:
It is the poor whose children are condemned to free education which you established in 1997. It is free indeed, free of knowledge. The learning environment in these Universal Primary Education schools is very despicable and reprehensible. The children in these schools cannot get quality education.
That is why your children and grandchildren cannot learn from such schools. The children of the poor learn for nothing, get nothing and will hardly amount to anything.
It is the poor who, when they fall sick, are condemned to health centre II, III, IVs where health services are deplorable because of many factors such as the unavailability of drugs and poor remuneration of staff.
You have not cared to improve health services because whenever you catch a cold or get ‘civilised’ sickness, you are treated in very expensive hospitals either here or abroad. This is because you don’t have faith in our doctors and health facilities. It is the poor mothers who are dying in hundreds each month in sick hospitals and health centres while carrying life.
It is the poor who are being dispossessed of their property, especially land, in the name of investment or public use, without prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation prior to the taking of possession or acquisition of the property.
It is the poor, Mr President, who are being chased out of their petty trade by the so-called investors. Where do you want these poor Ugandans to go? Why should they be treated as slaves or squatters in their country?
It is the poor who are suffering from and dying of hunger. It is the poor who do not have access to clean and safe water. Theirs is stagnant and or polluted water which they share with animals.
Indeed, it is youths from poor families who, because of poor background coupled with poor education, are languishing in villages and towns without gainful employment but only engaged in menial jobs such as touting taxis, boda boda riding, while the rest wallow in sports betting, the so-called crime prevention, among a host of other undignified and dehumanising activities.
This is to say nothing about our children who run away from Uganda to seek ‘gainful’ employment especially in the Middle East only to be destroyed by sex slavery, human trafficking and abuse. Mr President, there is a general sense of hopelessness in Uganda, particularly among the youth.
As if your tacit policy of segregation and discrimination is not bad enough, you have also zealously embarked on the balkanisation of Uganda into smaller districts. This is the policy of divide and rule, which helps you to keep control over people, by making them disagree with and fight each other, therefore, not giving them the chance to unite and oppose your wrongs cohesively.
To show you that you are intentionally doing this, you are on record championing the federation of East Africa, then why are you busy dividing Uganda? You are also famous for advising Ugandans not to fragment their land, then why are you engrossed in fragmenting Uganda? Who is benefiting in this exercise? Surely, not ordinary Ugandans!
Finally, Mr President, I want to tell you that overcoming poverty and bad governance is not a task of charity in form of handouts, open disguised bribery, unreasonable and untenable pledges, intimidating lies, patronage and manipulation, but it is an act of justice, truth, love and brotherhood.
Just like segregation, discrimination, slavery and corruption, poverty and bad governance are not natural. The African global icon Nelson Mandela observed that these conditions are manmade and they can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings through pro-people policies and programmes under an environment in which institutions, not individuals, are strong and functional.
Mr President, Uganda, is not poor but it is poorly-managed by our leaders who have qualified themselves into misleaders.