President Museveni will officially celebrate his 70th birthday next month. I have used the word ‘officially’ because some people dispute his age.
If he successfully ‘steals’ elections again, he will take the oath in May 2016, when he is nearly 72 years old.This means Museveni will be 75 years in 2019 and, therefore, ineligible to stand in 2021. In theory, that is his and many people’s hope, including those in NRM. But with Gen David Sejusa roaring in London, ADF and LRA still operating plus others who believe in violent change, that also remains an option.
And of course when you are of aanced age, the possibility of divine intervention becomes even more realistic. It is because of this that we must begin discussing the Uganda we will inherit from Mzee Museveni and the Uganda we want to build for ourselves and our children. Under Museveni, Uganda has registered some substantial growth which we or those who will be around will certainly inherit.
The construction industry, I think, has registered the most impressive figures. Kampala has expanded from the original seven hills covering just about eight square miles to Mukono, Mpigi, Gayaza, Wakiso and Entebbe. The unfortunate thing is that most of the new settlements, almost 90 per cent constructed under Museveni, are informal. All hills on Entebbe road are covered with beautiful mategula (roofing tiles) structures, but there are no roads leading there.
Accessing these nice buildings requires a lot of manoeuvring. And all these buildings are not connected to any central sewer system. In between these buildings, there is even no passage for sewer, water, telephone or electric lines. National Water and Sewerage Corporation is erecting a new bigger line to supply water to my village in Bukasa, near Namboole. This line has had to go through people’s perimeter walls.
By the way, make no mistake, the amount of money people have invested in building is colossal. Demolishing informal settlements will be such a huge loss to the country, considering the amount of cement, steel and other materials invested. Inevitably, when Museveni has finally gone, we will have to do what Rwanda is doing under Paul Kagame -slum redevelopment. Rwanda has a five-, ten-, twenty- and forty-year slum upgrading programme.
In Uganda, we don’t have such a programme. That is why you saw National Housing bypassing Katanga, Kisenyi, Katwe and Kalerwe slums in the middle of Kampala and descended on Kasokoso in Kireka. They simply wanted to grab land, as they were pursuing no known policy.
To be able to redirect development, we will need a functional public service, which our great leader, the visionary, has killed and buried. During a recent trip to Rwanda, he said he was working with thieves. And true to his word, he has gone back to the jungle tactics of replacing professionals with soldiers. And it is this ‘adhocism’ that has killed this country. If the youth are complaining of unemployment and therefore poverty, the head of state loads sacks of money in his car boot and carries it to them – remember the Busoga incident.
If the National Agricultural Aisory Services (Naads) is underperforming, his brother Gen Salim Saleh carries seedlings to farmers in Nakaseke and the wife, Janet, takes the Karamoja direction! If our problems are finally sorted out using these methods, I will look for Museveni and say sorry. Otherwise, I think we are a case study for researchers. The soldiers who are replacing professional civil servants are not clean either. In fact, many have been in and out of jail for stealing even salaries of their juniors and money to procure critical equipment for their units.
I think it was around 2004 when a report compiled by Amama Mbabazi, Salim Saleh and David Tinyefuza revealed that senior army officers, headed by late James Bunanukye Kazini, had stolen from defence more than Shs 600bn. Kazini, in his testimony to the committee, said some of the corruption was official. He said any balance on the account at the end of a financial year was officially shared.
What about Brig Steven Kashaka who stormed a table where salaries for soldiers returning from war were being given out in Nakasongola, filled his pockets and walked away!
What haven’t senior UPDF commanders stolen or sold? Is it aircraft parts, food ration or guns?
It is these ones that Museveni now wants to replace civil servants with. Rebuilding a well-motivated and patriotic public service will, therefore, be a top priority. There was a time when prices for land skyrocketed because money stolen from social services was being hidden (invested) there. Many of the buildings in Kampala are owned by serving or retired public servants.
And it will by the way be very easy to replace them like Museveni is doing. What will be difficult to replace is the looting culture, now engraved in the minds of many of our people. And whoever becomes president after Museveni, the job is well cut out.
Amin and Obote eras taught us violence the Museveni era has cultivated the culture of stealing and looting. There are people who win construction contracts when they have never owned a spade. Building consensus on how to retrieve this country is a debate we must start now. The author is Kyadondo East MP
Source : The Observer