Presidential candidates have a duty which is equally a social responsibility to participate in the organized debate of 15th January 2016 by the Inter – religious Council and or any other; it is not an option as some candidates want to make us believe, opting out simply shows that the candidate is less prepared to confront issues that may be put on table in the debate. My advice to the candidates is simple: take off time from the campaign to prepare for the challenges of the debate which will reflect to the Uganda voter and the international community that you are fit for the job of President, and not that you will be some sort of stooge driven by other parties though in the Presidential seat if you win the presidency.
The Uganda voter needs to see a Presidential candidate move away from fiction of promising heaven on earth, and instead get to the reality that will be expected of him after successfully making it in the Presidential race.
It is true, much of what has so far been promised by nearly all the Presidential candidates in totality is much more fiction given the time-frame and constraints, however, such debate may bring out the muscle of a Presidential candidate who may have a magical formula that may turn around things.
It is a fact that the country is highly indebted, yet its ability to earn hard currency in the current circumstances is laughable. The corruption, plus the expectations of politicians who are in for various elective offices is a big challenge to the country where many in addition to getting what they may officially be entitled to, will at the same time be at the core of poor service delivery, hence contribute to failure to get value for money for the tax payer resources advanced given the interest of being a beneficiary to such money to recover the losses incurred in bribing voters.
It is also true that the NRM Governance has painted a bad image to the country. This has been witnessed in the way the law enforcement is done; discriminatively, the security personnel favour the NRM supporters even when they are in the wrong as they persecute the opposition. We have read unbelievable reports on how resources have been deliberately mismanaged through the tendering process, where in-existent firms have been awarded tenders, where funds have been released and the procurement not done, where there has been outright stealing of the funds both local and donor sourced, the list is endless. In the circumstances, it is absurd that the Auditor General’s Office has managed to report the loss, but has not intervened to stop the loss. Ugandans need to see a Presidential candidate ready to see this status quo end.
For 3 decades, the NRM Government has spent the biggest part of the national budget on security related logistics. However, security per se is not directly productive and through time, there have been a lot in form of components allegedly classified, hence no audit has been undertaken. It is alarming the extent to which the NRM has abused the country’s resources, for example in funding UPDF in South Sudan. South Sudan has oil and given that they needed our intervention, obviously they had to foot the bill, but you can be sure, with NRM, Parliament allowed the siphoning of our resources to support UPDF in South Sudan! The Uganda voter need to see the options where UPDF will be more directly productive, less of a liability to the country and taking a lower pie of the national budget given the cumulative expenditures on it over the 3 decades.
Every other day, Uganda leaders talk about poverty. Unfortunately, though the biggest percentage of the population is rural based and depends on agriculture, not even 4% of the national budget is currently spent on Agriculture. How can a Presidential candidate promise to see poverty as history when the sector that should have the biggest boost instead gets peanuts?
Tourism is an area where Uganda can easily earn clean money to the extent that if the country unveils a serious strategy to boost funding to the sector as well as market it through various international media, chances are that in a short time, with factors as national security in good control, the sector can easily generate resources that can create employment and make a sound boost to the national economy.
There is need to see how investors can be induced into the country. The bad image of Uganda is not only in noncompetitive costs of doing business (say utilities), but also in the poor indicators of good governance. For example, it is not news that President Museveni keeps on talking about not handling over power, which he will go back to the bush, etc. Such talk can be no inducement to any investor worth his salt. No talk of expensive electricity (relatively in the East African region) can earn Uganda investors when they need to make profits for repatriation. Talk of the shilling which constantly depreciates more so because of the poor economic management by the NRM Government.
The issues of Governance which include bad laws in place MUST be addressed by any serious candidate. The Citizen’s Compact of November 2014 pointed out clearly the laws which are seen to be bad. Secondly, the issue of Federalism needs to be discussed as a means to address the unbalanced growth countrywide.
The land issue where people have been able to acquire square miles of land while thousands of landless are yawning is unacceptable. Ugandans need a way forward on this status quo.
The Environmental degradation where natural forests have been cleared for agricultural purposes or planting of Eucalyptus trees and the exploitation of forests for fire wood and charcoal as alternative sources of energy seem to have failed is another major concern.
The strategy to change the attitude of most Ugandan workers so as to see increased input as well as output is a must; meanwhile strategies to boost morale are needed if increased output is targeted.
Mixed economy as a Government strategy needs to be looked into seriously. Uganda cannot wait for potential investors to put up industrial plants simply because Government has to keep out of business. This has to be reversed.
The NRM Government has put in place machinery to block foreign funding of those opposed to its bad policies. This practice is unhealthy and cannot help the country’s development initiatives. Government cannot steal people’s money under the cover of so – called terrorist connections which are imaginary. Presidential candidates ought to come out with a strategy that can allow the free entry of foreign funding, and not block such money or steal it because it is an opponent who is beneficiary.
The regional balance within the security forces has to be addressed. It is unbelievable the number of DPCs in Uganda Police Force who are from Western Uganda. The UPDF equally does not have proportional representation given each region’s population.
Without the Non – Governmental Organization (NGO’s) and their role in the development initiatives in Uganda may be the country could have long grounded to a halt. We need to see a Presidential candidate with a friendly face to the Non – Governmental Organizations.
Service delivery is supposed to be at the grassroots, unfortunately, Sub – counties in Uganda get no funding worth mentioning. Ugandans want to see what the Presidential candidates have in stock to boost service delivery at Sub – county, and how they hope community initiatives will operate to handle vulnerable children, the disabled and the elderly.
To think of a new Uganda, one MUST address the morals of many in Government and non – government establishments including the trading community, public transport operators to mention but a few. The proposed funding to Recognized Religions is in the pipeline. The question is: How will this be handled differently from the way Museveni has been donating vehicles to religious leaders which has not positively impacted on the morals of Ugandans?
The education sector during Museveni’s time is greatly in the hands of the private players. The question: How can one hope to improve the performance of the sector and its results if Government does not directly help the funding of the private players?
Presidential candidates need to tell us how they will handle Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) which Uganda badly need as a player in a knowledge – based economy. There is evidence to illustrate that the ability to compete in the provision of high quality products and services largely depends on the level of investment in STI. Developed and emerging industrialized countries spend 2 to 3 % of their GDP on research and development; yet the estimates for Uganda have averaged between 0.2 and 0.3 % for research and development (2002/03 – 2005/06).
Statistics reveal that 8 in 10 youth in Uganda wake up every morning to the reality of joblessness and the lack of prospects for change. It is estimated that 480,000 youth flood the job market annually in the hunt for meaningful employment. As youth have become increasingly dependent on their families for lack of income, the unemployment problem in Uganda has moved from a development challenge to a crisis. What’s the way for ward? How can the youth in Uganda be changed from a ticking time bomb to a huge asset?
The best word for the Uganda health sector is pathetic. It is chronically underfunded, there is poor accountability for health funds, there is corruption and lack of transparency and it is more curative than preventive. The shortage of health workers is a major challenge in improving the health of Ugandan population. Shortage is partly attributed to poor remuneration of staff which leads them to go for greener pastures, and the number of health workers at each facility is small compared to the optimal and has no incentive to work, a doctor to patient ratio of 1:24,725 and nurse to patient ratio of 1:11,000. Given the above challenge, how do we move from here?
Uganda losses about shs 1 trillion to corruption, what strategies do you think your Government will use to successfully curb this thieving?
The Public procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) is a real disaster. The problem is that nearly each and every procurement contract is contested and many times the courts of law are the last resort. What is the way forward?
There are some contradictions regarding the management of the oil prospecting and eventual processing undertakings. How will your Government take up the challenge so that Uganda ends up not a victim of the oil curse as seen elsewhere?
The National Equal Opportunities Policy aims at promoting equality of opportunities for all persons in Uganda, irrespective of gender, age, physical ability, health status or geographical location, in all activities, programmes, plans and policies of Government, private sector and Non Governmental organizations in all spheres of social, economic, political and civil life. As a Presidential candidate, do you see this feasible and or practicable?