I have been following President Museveni’s actions trying to convince a skeptical public about the good intentions of government regarding private land.
Meanwhile, on the sideline is a seven-member commission of inquiry into land matters revealing the horror that many Ugandans have faced over the last few decades at the hands of the rich, powerful politicians and technocrats. These actions have taken a particularly hard toll on the women and children.
The small sample of cases by the commission paints a really grim picture and yet this only represents a tip of the giant iceberg that is Uganda’s land problems.
Meanwhile, the president’s peasants, as he once fondly called them, suffer after a long dry spell. Heavy rains have caused deaths and washed away many a livelihood. As if this is not enough, we have a governing party preoccupied with removing age limits from our sacred Constitution, with Evelyn Anite even issuing an ominous warning to dissenters: “We have the maggye [army].”
It is no surprise then that the president finds a cynical public that has been twice bitten and exceedingly shy. Many of those the president entrusted to be his eyes and ears have also become his teeth, with a really big bite. It is no wonder then that Ugandans have very little trust in a man that was once their entire hope and pride.
My advice to the president is to start defanging his crew because with friends like these, you really don’t need enemies. I wonder where the brave young girl is. She needs to tell the emperor that he is naked.
Juliet Nakato Odoi,
Forum for Women in Democracy (Fowode).
Can debt be relied on to revamp our economy?
Uganda, through her national development plans, has highlighted a number of key sectors crucial in transforming the economy.
These include transport and infrastructure, agriculture, information and communications technology, and tourism, among others. It has also given a number of sources of income to finance such sectors as external and domestic borrowing.
The country’s debt stock in nominal value, however, is rising exponentially, currently at the tune of Shs 34 trillion, representing an increase of 14.1 per cent relative to June 2016 and 16.7 per cent in the same period a year before.
The state of the economy report published by Bank of Uganda in June 2017 underpins that about Shs 21.1 trillion ($5.7 billion) is owed to external creditors, commanding a dominant share of 62.4 per cent of the total public debt, while Shs 12.7 trillion in domestic debt.
This clearly represents an increase of Shs 1.55 trillion since January 2017. It’s still imperative to note that Uganda’s debt, especially domestic, has shot higher, over and above the set threshold as given by the Public Debt Management Framework.
Given the government’s move to undertake these huge projects, it is imperative to question whether the debt can be steadily relied on to boost economic growth and at what cost.
First, Uganda’s national debt is the total amount of money the government owes the private sector (domestic, foreigners or institutions).
However, if government is borrowing to invest in public services such as transport and education, it is possible to increase productive capacity and enable a higher rate of economic growth.
But it beats one’s thinking that government spending on capital projects is much the same year-to-year. The current report on performance of loans approved by the 8th, 9th and 10th parliament indicates that a total of 137 loans have been approved.
However, it’s unfortunate that although some loans were approved, many have not started disbursing the borrowed funds yet they attract commitment fees.
What needs to be done, therefore, is to support the private sector, and boost aggregate demand through injection of money in agriculture, which has both backward and forward linkages.
Prioritization of domestic revenue mobilization efforts remains the primary available option Uganda can incorporate for financing infrastructural development.
Therefore, efforts to improve domestic revenue mobilization should be scaled up. These include decisively addressing weaknesses in the legal, regulatory, and institutional frameworks; expanding the tax base; unlocking the potentially large contributions from the informal sector; and reducing tax exemptions. In addition, the government can opt for pension funds to finance some of these projects given that they are best financed in local currency.
Research associate, Uganda Debt Network.
Kalonzo Musyoka doesn’t know Museveni!
While presiding over the graduation of Utamu University, Kenyan politician Kalonzo Musyoka, one of Raila Odinga’s senior partners in the Nasa coalition, was quoted by the media advising Ugandans to handle President Museveni well because he is fit to be East Africa’s first president.
For sure, I did not expect this gentleman to make such a reckless statement. For starters, Kalonzo and his counterparts are in alliance in Kenya trying to wrestle power from the Kikuyu who are clinging onto power.
The same Kalonzo wants Ugandans to bear with Museveni, claiming he is East Africa’s presidential material.
Secondly, Kalonzo should be informed that unlike Kenya’s Kikuyu-Kalenjin perpetual rule, Uganda is threatened by a suspected Museveni dynasty rule which is in its 31st year.
Kalonzo should also know that when Museveni gets into power, he never lets go in spite of his dismal performance. Before you finish fighting the Kikuyu hegemony, don’t invite the Museveni problem for Kenya or the region at large. It’s bigger than what you are wrestling in Kenya now.
Let’s record all rights violations
Ugandans should not go to sleep; we are living in a very violent society. You have smartphones with cameras, recorders, you can write, etc. You can gather data better than ever before.
Record every threatening event or violation of your rights: time, place, witnesses, possible suspects, etc.
After that, then you can choose time to decide. Such data can be very helpful to prosecute such characters on a later date, even if you are dead. Don’t forget one important thing; to share such data with someone else.
Such data should be kept for a minimum of eight years. The best thing is to deposit it on a cloud in form of images, sound and text.