What We Can Learn From Uganda’s Liberation [opinion]

On June 9, Ugandans celebrated the national heroes’ day, in commemoration of Uganda’s liberation in 1966 by the National Liberation Army.

We may celebrate every year, but two important questions remain. What have Ugandans benefited or achieved out of the liberation and what has President Museveni achieved for himself and his people?

Buganda Kingdom will always be at the forefront when these questions are being answered. The biggest achievement for Buganda was the restoration of Buganda Kingdom in 1993. When Buganda was restored, the Baganda started to rebuild their economic and political power and soon we shall say they are on a “great leap forward”. So far, they have made tremendous progress economically and socially.

Generally, there is relative peace and tranquility everywhere in the country. People can leave their homes in the morning and go to work and go back in the evening without encountering any problem along the way. There is rule of law and constitutionalism, a democratic parliamentary and multi-party system. People are free to talk and discuss any topic they want, without government interference.

The atmosphere of peace in the country has helped Ugandans and Uganda to develop because no country develops without peace. The best example is our neighbour, Kenya. Unlike Uganda, the Kenyans have had no political problems (save for 2007) or military rule since their independence in 1963. This has enabled the country and the people to develop tremendously.

President Museveni should be happy with his achievements. He is the president until 2021, if he stands and wins the 2016 elections. In 2021, he should, ideally, retire from active politics. After him, Ugandans, through Parliament, should restore presidential term limits. Like the former Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi who developed his people of Western Kenya, President Museveni has developed and uplifted the living standards of his people from Western Uganda.

He has educated thousands through the State House scholarships. He has enabled them to start and carry out businesses. They have allegedly acquired huge areas of land. Their presence can be felt in the civil service, parastatal bodies and the private sector. Museveni also helped build a big University in Mbarara.

For the people of Uganda, he has built a highly professional army which has also carried out peace missions in many African countries. Since 1986, President Museveni has embarked on industrialisation and this has made Uganda to depend less on foreign countries for some goods. But I think these industries should be spread everywhere in Uganda. All areas of Uganda have educated people who can manage and run these industries.

The policy of allowing the foreign investors to own most industries and bringing the non-Ugandans to work in these industries should also stop. Electrification has also increased after the completion of Bujagali power dam in Busoga and the construction of Karuma dam in northern Uganda is expected to start soon.

But what are the challenges that President Museveni faces before he retires?

Besides championing a policy of economic empowerment for the indigenous Ugandans, Museveni should change the economic policy where privatisation will be 40 per cent and 60 per cent government companies, industries and factories.

The government should establish the National Bank of Uganda to transact business of commercial banking in Uganda and eventually open up branches in foreign countries. Kenya, India, China and South Africa are the best examples on this.

Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka and Prof Augustine Nuwagaba of Makerere University are experts who can aise. Kenyan commercial banks are flourishing everywhere in East Africa. We helped South Sudan to achieve independence but our presence there is not felt, Kenya, on the other hand, has consolidated itself there.

A clear policy on the oil industry should be clearly spelt out. Ugandans would like to know how they will benefit from the oil revenue in terms of social welfare, education, infrastructure and health.

China should be a good example to us. They set up companies such as China National Oil and Overseas Corporation (CNOOC). This company operates in foreign countries purposely to make money for the people of China. Uganda should do the same for its people.

The author is an elder from Kyaggwe, Mukono

Source : The Observer

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