We are backward partly because we fail to reason scientifically before making some deductions. It is simple to realize that the challenges of Uganda need new blood in leadership. Many who seem to be benefitting from NRM favours and patronage cannot use their impaired vision to see that. For a man who seriously started struggles in as far back as 1972, surely it is common sense that he has had enough share of the challenges and continued his endorsement; where it is allegedly being done democratically, though out of the right for a will not help Uganda.
What is the scientific reasoning I am referring to?
Uganda is part of the East African community, and a big driving force to see the community work out. However, through logical thinking, can Uganda seriously stand to benefit given the figures? Taking three East African countries over a period of 10 years, Uganda’s per capita lags behind! This is mostly because of the policies during President Museveni’s governance which will make 30 years before he stands again in 2016. Uganda’s per capita income doubled from $180 in 2000 to $ 360 in 2013; Kenya’s growth rate was $ 1,170 by 2013 while Tanzania’s was $250 the same time. However, of the three countries, Uganda is best endowed, but the politics is to blame.
Bureaucratic and administrative forms of corruption are widespread in the Ugandan administration, with practices of bribery, nepotism, and misuse of official positions and resources. Government bureaucracy, complex regulatory procedures and red tape provide numerous opportunities for corruption and rent seeking.
Political patronage and favouritism further characterize the Ugandan administration, with NRM patronage systems reaching into the private sector. In local government bodies, giving jobs and contracts to relatives or supporters appears to be common practice. A 2006 Freedom House report denounces widespread patronage and corruption in government, with the exception of the public, health and education service commissions that are generally credited with making open, merit-based appointments. Even here, however, there have been recent cases of interference in the appointment of senior officials in the ministries of health and of education and sports.
Public procurement is one of the sectors most affected by corruption in Uganda. According to the 2007 African Peer Review Mechanism Report, Uganda loses USD 258.6 million Annually through corruption and procurement malfeasance. The report further estimates that if the country could eliminate corruption in public procurement, it would save USD 15.2 million a year. In the assessment of the country’s Auditor General, procurement accounts for 70% of public spending, of which an estimated 20% is lost via corruption. In June 2008, a senior World Bank official stated that high level corruption in procurement deals had been responsible for a loss of USD 300 million since 2005. He added that 70% of government contracts were not awarded according to established procedures, while half of the national budget is spent on procurement deals. (Please see the 2008 Global Integrity report: http://report.globalintegrity.org/Uganda/2008).
Uganda undertook a major reform of its tax administration system with the formation of a semiautonomous revenue authority, the Uganda Revenue Authority, in 1991. Surveys indicate that corruption is on the rise in the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), with instances of political interference, patronage and corruption at managerial level. There also seems to be an increase in the number of tax collectors openly demanding bribes in their dealings with tax payers. A 2005 CMI report on corruption in tax administration indicates that 43% of firms report occasionally or always paying bribes to tax officers. 84% of respondents to the 2005 Afro Barometer believe that tax officials are involved in corruption. In 2003, five senior officers attached to the Large Taxpayer Department were involved in a major corruption scandal. A Commission of Inquiry of Corruption in the URA was appointed by the government in the same year due to serious allegations of underestimated or misstated declarations in customs, as well as collaboration between tax payers and URA staff. The Commission released a much delayed and debated report two years later whose legality was questioned by Members of Parliament. The report was ultimately nullified by the High Court.
The police are perceived as one of the most corrupt institutions in Uganda, particularly traffic police. 91% of respondents to the 2005 Afro Barometer believe that the police are involved in corruption, while 67% think that most or all police officials are involved in corruption. Few (about 17%) actually report having paid a bribe to avoid a problem with the police. According to the 2006 Global Integrity report mentioned above, political interference in police-work is commonplace, with high profile cases sometimes dropped following political pressure. Investigations of police corruption have increased under the leadership of a new police chief appointed in 2005. He has, however, faced internal criticism and has received several death threats. (http://www.business-anticorruption.com/en/country-profiles/sub-saharanafrica/uganda/background-information/).
According to Freedom House 2006 and 2008, the executive does not guarantee the independence of the judiciary and there have been instances of intimidation of the judiciary. In 2005, heavily armed soldiers surrounded the High Court in an attempt to courtmartial civilians involved in allegations of treason. Concerns about judicial independence were reinforced by security forces’ intervention in a politically sensitive trial in 2007. Judges subsequently went on strike to protest against the invasion of the courts by security forces, and the East African Court of Justice found Uganda guilty of violating the rule of law and the rights of its citizens by allowing the military to repeatedly interfere with court processes. The Uganda Law Society noted that this episode reflected a broader problem of government officials refusing to comply with certain judicial actions.
A Bertelsmann Foundation report from 2008 reveals that the upper levels of the judiciary demonstrate high standards of professionalism and independence. The administration of justice is undermined, however, by a lack of resources, skills and capacity at the lower levels of the judiciary.
According to the 2005 Afro Barometer, 73% of citizens think judges and magistrates are involved in corruption, while the vast majority of citizens believe high level officials are significantly less likely to be held accountable for serious crimes than ordinary members of the public. The US-Investment Climate Statement 2009 confirms these perceptions, reporting that several high-profile government corruption scandals have, in recent years, resulted in few or no sanctions against the officials involved. A significant number of the companies surveyed for the 2006 Word Bank and IFC Enterprise Survey do not believe Uganda’s courts to be fair, impartial and uncorrupted.
When you look at the funding for CHOGM 2007, you cannot fail to be worried about the future of Uganda. Over all, Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Finance, Planning and economic Development provided Shs 270,474,309,660 (two hundred seventy billion, four hundred and seventy four million, three hundred nine thousand, six hundred and sixty shillings) for CHOGM 2007 preparations, spread over a period of three Financial Years (FY) 2005/06; 2006/07 and 2007/08.This was the budget approved by Parliament. Investigations by the Committee however revealed that some individual ministries kept on spending outside the funds approved by Parliament. It was for example noted that a total of Shs 11,977,000,000 was sourced from Uganda Revenue Authority, to procure various security equipments for CHOGM. Another Shs 3.4 billion was paid from the Ministry of Defence budget to pay for additional expenditures on fuel and allowances. Another Shs 80 billion was borrowed by CAA as a Bank loan to carry out works on the Airport. A bank guarantee for this loan was issued by Minister Dr. Ezra Suruma without the required approval of Parliament. Some money was given to hotels as investment and this included J&M Hotel 2.6 billion, Imperial Royale 3 billion, Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort 13 billion. A lot of variations in the procurement of roads, street lighting, cars, security, led to increased expenditures which were never approved by Parliament. The Committee found that the US$ 5 million was got from National Back borne Project under Ministry of ICT for procurement security without authority of Parliament and was not declared to the Auditor General. These expenditures were not brought to the attention of Parliament and therefore unauthorised. The Committee reports that it could not get satisfactory justification for this extra budgetary expenditure. The Committee estimates that CHOGM expenditures almost double from the authorised and appropriated budget of Shs 270 billion to over Shs 500 billion.
(Source: The report of the Public Accounts Committee on the Special Audit Report of the Auditor General on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2007 Kampala)
Think about the cost of power. Having sub - divided what was previously U.E. B, the cost of power is simply astronomical such that it has been reported that some Uganda registered companies process products out of Uganda and then bring them to Uganda market. Two of these which are on record are Star Café, who are alleged to process from Tanzania and the Oil company of Kalangala. How can Uganda compete when the cost of power is simply astronomical.
Donors are on record to have expressed concern about the cost of many projects. These are more expensive in Uganda than elsewhere. Cases sited include the power dams to mention a few. Surely, there should be reason why this is so, as it disadvantages the country from getting serious investors.
It is real and a fact that many suppliers to Government are losing value. Many in the Construction business have got out of business. The other day, suppliers to Uganda Police were demanding so much money and it would just defeat logic how Government was unserious to pay for the services rendered.
It has been noted that the tourism industry gets a drop in the ocean given the funding that would naturally boost Uganda’s economy. This is something Government would readily see, but has failed to implement.
In the past few years, Government was all the time cautioned against creation of new districts, but simply because the Government of the day saw this as a strategy to gunner votes, more districts many of which are not viable have been created and there is no clear strategy to reverse this situation. The service delivery for vital social services to the community is simply pathetic.
Never had we ever though that Government would fail to pay the handful civil servants it is supposed to pay salary. While the political areas are okay like the Parliament where over shs 20 million is paid to the members, the people who are supposed to get shs 200,000 – 400,000 can now go on for a month or more in arrears!
While economic development is talked about and big figures in form of revenue, the shilling continues to depreciate such that any investment decision has to be done with a lot of care otherwise, funds are just lost and collapse is what comes after. It is true that a taxi journey which used to cost shs 200 before the 2011 General election is the one which costs shs 500 today. Part of the problem is the billions of shillings Government put into the system to bribe voters.
The education system has gone down so much. While some parents can struggle to get children into schools that perform, what is a fact is that the quality of the graduates is generally low. Many of these are groomed simply to pass examinations. It is true that many University graduates write such English you may never believe is by a graduate. The cheating to pass highly in national examinations has remained the order. This is a commonsense observation. The badly motivated teachers both at primary section and secondary together with poor support cannot yield better than poor standards. As if that is not enough, the poverty where many children at this date cannot go to school is simply absurd. When you look at many children who attend at UPE schools, their appearance is enough to show that things are bad. Many are clearly malnourished, the school uniform they put on are all signs of things gone wrong.
The unemployment levels in the country are simply unbelievable. While Government would seriously work on strategies to boost wealth creation, Government is in for schemes that cannot go far in employment creation. The Government took on wrong advice that it is not supposed to engage in business not knowing that business that can help the competitiveness of Uganda has to be capital intensive hence it would naturally be healthy to inject into such undertakings Government cash to see worthy business.
The environment degradation with many politicians party is another problem for Uganda. If nothing serious is done to address this, the environment will increasingly be degraded.
The corruption which seems to be official will continue costing Uganda any worthy growth and development that would be achieved, and looks like it is official such that the spills from it help some areas including buying voters.
Under President Museveni’s time, the involvement of the military in matters outside Uganda has cost the country a lot of resources that would have helped the development hence strengthening of the economy and generation of employment opportunities. The election of President Museveni for another 5 years will surely not help this strategy.
All in all, we are mature enough to make informed judgment, short of that, our country Uganda is doomed. The NRM needs to think beyond the box and seriously look to ways and means of getting the country recover the lost glory.