Meritocracy actually creates ethnic balance, so no need for tribalism

It was that straight-talking NRM historical Amanya Mushega who, as Public Service and later Education Minister, always rejected the notion of tribal balancing quotas and preferred meritocracy. He believed that if all are given opportunity, the right people will always end up in the right positions.

He injected resources in day schools and successfully proved that they can even do better than boarding schools. Mushega would say that he would never allow the Uganda Cranes (which fell under his Education and Sports mandate) to be selected on the basis of tribal balancing.

Humorously, he would ask how the positions from goal keeping, defence, strikers, etc would be shared out according to tribe lines.

Mushega is no longer in government, but I am sure he has been taking note that indeed, the example he picked, funny as it may seem, was the right one.

For the Uganda Cranes to continue to exhibit good – actually stellar – performance, thumping continental soccer powers like Nigeria and Zambia, their not qualifying for the Africa Cup finals notwithstanding. Why do the Cranes show so much promise unlike the other public departments such as health, transport, works?

A close look at the Cranes line-up reveals something extremely interesting: merit can actually promote ethnic balance. Nobody ever made it to the Cranes line-up because he was a Musoga like Kakaire, an Acholi like Obua or a Muganda like Mulindwa. But though the Cranes are selected on merit, they end up reflecting the ethnic balance of Uganda! Just look at the squad that Micho Sredojevic fielded recently!

You would think the boys were selected to represent the country’s tribal mix. They all speak Luganda only because of spending much time in Kampala. Which also tells us something about the unnecessary national language debate – still alive on some internet groups .

People will always speak the language that works better for them in given circumstances. That is why today, in case you were not aware, most traders in Kikuubo speak Kiswahili.

This is because the place has become the regional wholesale hub where you have to deal with buyers and sellers coming from all the neighbouring countries. All attempts by governments from colonial times to-date to legislate Kiswahili for Uganda did not achieve what the profit motive has done in Kikuubo.

Something else I found interesting. Of today’s 25-man Cranes squad, Muslims constitute 16-20 per cent, which is about the same as the national ratio! So without trying to allocate Muslims their fair share of places in the national team, merit ensured that they got the right proportion.

Besides football, the other organisation that has excelled even beyond the whole world’s expectation is the UPDF in Somalia. Without bias, any fair observer would say the UPDF battle groups in Somalia are easily the strongest urban fighting force in the world, basing on what they have achieved with the resources they used.

A look at the Constitution of the officer corps of these battle groups – from what they allow us to see – shows the force is already ethnically balanced. They don’t take you to Somalia because you are related to somebody or you come from a certain village. They take you there because you are a good soldier. And that takes care of the ethnic balances.

So the meriteously constituted UPDF have pulled off the ‘miracle’ of uprooting Al Qaeda’s Al Shabaab from their own city of Mogadishu end re-established effective government in Somalia for the first time in two decades
If we treated every sector as seriously as Uganda Cranes and UPDF Somalia operation, Uganda would no doubt be very far ahead in development and there would be no complaints over nepotism.

buwembo@gmail.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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