By Denis Mugonza Waggumbulizi
A few days ago while speaking at Kyado in Mayuge district where he presided over the inaugural Bishop James Hannington Day.
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President Museveni registered his dismay and apprehension at the rate at which poverty has been intensifying in Busoga sub region.
“I have been peeping through my car window as i travelled here for this function and i have kept wondering to myself how do these people live through this sort of poverty?” I have screened through all these villages where i have passed, but the houses and all the other things i have seen have left me wondering how it’s possible for our people to survive through these hard economic conditions,” said Museveni who voters in Busoga shunned in the 2021 Presidential Election in favor of the National Unity Platform’s candidate, Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu.
Further still, Museveni wondered why all the big-name NRM leaders from Busoga haven’t been able to lead their people into inclusive economic transformation similar to what the rest of the country is experiencing. He forgot to talk about how jiggers have for long tormented the Busoga region.
Does the rest of the country experience economic transformation? It should be reminisced that six months ago when Museveni went to Luweero district where his rebel group, National Resistance Army (NRA) launched a five-year guerilla warfare that ended with him capturing power in 1986, while presiding over a religious crusade convened by his daughter, Museveni attributed the underdevelopment in the area to appointed leaders who let him down, he also blamed elected leaders who he said have not been so helpful as if he is not among these elected leaders that the country has had in the past and present.
Similarly, this year while addressing leaders from the Acholi and Lango sub-regions at Baralegi State Lodge in Otuke District, Museveni blamed the past leaders and colonialists for Uganda’s poverty, saying they “poisoned the minds” of hardworking farmers.
But for how long will Museveni stop accusing the past leaders and start admitting his failures? It’s a pity that Museveni attributes all Uganda’s problems to past leaders as if the 36 years he has been in power have been bread and butter for Ugandans, maybe for his family and comrades.
The failure of government programs and over 30-year unfulfilled presidential pledges saw the NRM fail to have a single Member of Parliamentary candidate win a constituency in Luweero in 2021 General election, and Museveni getting a dismal 27% vote in the area.
For the past 30 years of Museveni’s rule, Luweero has had the opportunity of having about 8 Cabinet ministers serving as Members of Parliament as well, but where is the inclusive economic transformation in Luweero triangle yet during every election, Museveni asks voters in Uganda to vote for NRM candidates claiming that they shall easily reach him and then the people shall get development? This notion is bad and also not for national development.
The moment one is elected as a President or leader she or he must serve the country without segregation. All people deserve better service delivery regardless of their political affiliations or representatives because they pay taxes.
In the 2021 General election, Buganda region overwhelmingly voted for National Unity Platform candidates both on the local and national level. The NRM members and by the way the big-name leaders blamed their loss on the Catholic Church clerics and Buganda Kingdom officials who they accused of de-campaigning NRM candidates especially those who were contesting to be Members of Parliament, but little did they know that none of these institutions were against them. It was beyond what they thought about.
The hard economic conditions, land grabbing, illegal land evictions, arbitrary arrests, marginalization, impunity, oppression, sectarianism to mention but a few maybe accounted to NRM’s continued support decline in Buganda. The rate at which Baganda are being kidnapped by security operatives, brutally arrested and loosing lives at the hands of security agencies because of their political beliefs is worrying and making the people irritated by the NRM regime.
The rate of poverty which is in Eastern region is not being handled well and surprisingly the leaders out there especially of NRM are busy supporting the NRM government as if all is well in their communities. They are fattening themselves and betraying their electorates. Without fear or selfish interests, they should start telling Museveni the pain and needs of their people.
After the collapse of industries and cooperatives in Busoga, the people of Busoga have for long suffered greatly from poverty and economic misery. The little hope they had had in growing sugar cane for sale was taken away from them by the rich.
Much as the Basoga struggle day and night to earn a living, they feel that the NRM government has not helped them to better their standards of living. The young people in Busoga are facing hard times and are living destitute life because the sugarcane project failed to deliver the desired transformation.
The reality is that there is increased youth unemployment and absolute poverty across Uganda. The people are hopeless and bitter. The result of this is always the worst.
It would be surprising for Museveni to say that he was overwhelmed by poverty in Busoga as if other parts of the country are okay or you would think that he has been away from Uganda for a decade now. No, there is absolute poverty and economic misery throughout Uganda. The leaders have not bothered to address the real problems of the people. These leaders are selfish and have taken Ugandans for granted.
Considering the rate of poverty in Busoga and other parts of the country, no one should ever deceive the world that Uganda has already achieved middle- income status. For Uganda to meet middle-income status, the country’s GDP growth rate would need to double. GDP must grow at a rate not less than 10% in the next four years. Secondary, we must find ways to reduce fertility rate of Ugandans.
Then there is a great need to start a relationship between the government and the population. Museveni needs to seek reconciliation with the people of Uganda. Ugandans are facing hard economic conditions and they feel the NRM regime has not answered their needs, lest what happened to NRM in Busoga and Buganda in the 2021 General election maybe the next and worst to happen in other regions in such a way of people expressing their dissatisfaction and anger towards NRM.
Denis Mugonza Waggumbulizi | Advocate, Researcher & Entrepreneur