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Day June 12, 2009

Laws in Kenya may work in Uganda


L_Cpl Otto:

Yes, the law can work in Uganda. remember that Kenyans also had or went through what Ugandans are going through: feelings of entitlement.  I had been ordered out by then but I learned that Kenyan actually fought kifuba over FORD KENYA. Raila Odinga, yes that one felt entitled to led it after the demise of his father Mzee Jaramogi Odinga.  The Luhyas said no and fought over it.  I understand the situation was so bad-Mr Moi could care less-that many suffered multiple injuries.

Defeated, democratically-not enough delegates to back him-Raila left to left to hijack another parry then called NDP.  From there he made a deal with Mr Moi, joined KANU and cabinet until Mr Moi pulled a fast one on all the pretenders when he three his weight behind Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and famously reminded the pretenders that KANU had its owners.

When YKM told off those pestering him to name his successor that none of the current pretenders have what it takes, he reminded me of Mr Moi, blunt and politically incorrect, a trait both share. They also do not drink chaanga and of course like mbessha too much.

It took the courage of the woman from Gichugu, Hon Martha Karua to reign in the political parties.  Forced by law, most parties had no choice but embrace internal democracy.  Those that thought that she was joking were caught off guard and are now in limbo. Needless to say political parties are not private entities.

But it is not just me obsessed with Kenya.  Kenyans now rule the top echelons of the corporate sector in Uganda and even Vice Chancellors.  Why is that the case?

However,I agree with your thesis. Taxes are what we pay for civilization.  In other words, if Ugandans want democracy they should pay taxes. Now do Ugandans pays taxes?  No.

NRMO was smart. It broke the bond you cite by abolishing pol taxes.  Ugandans used to take pride in paying taxes. They used to gather before DCs and chiefs to be assessed or relieved of the budren. Not anymore.

Bottom line : a country of perennial tax evaders like Uganda cannot enjoy the type of democracy the elite crave for.

It is is inverse of the cry: no taxation without representation that sparked tea the famous Boston tea parties.

No taxes, no democracy babe. Taxes are what buy-force-democracy.

Now do you think the majority see it the way you put it in your thesis?  Obviously not.  Scam the editorials pages and you will see them complaining about taxes today and then tomorrow about lack of democratic space. Hello.

I know you folks are fed up with me referring to Kenya but just bear with me.  Under Mr Moi, Kenyans were not paying taxes as much. Enter Mr Kibaki who declared that the era for tax evaders was over and all of a sudden KRA is minting billions. In Ugandan super crooks like Sudhir are day  in day out fighting URA about one form of taxe or another. And then the crooks have the audacity to complain of lack of security. If the Ugandan police has no web page, or functioning patrol cars, cars it can only buy if allocated more money, money which only be raised through taxation, how can it deliver?

Instead of the opposition telling donors to cut AID, they should be telling Ugandans to pay taxes. Yap. is that likely? Nope.

Many in UAH and blame the peasants that they have prioritized sleep over democracy. Hello.  As as long as they pay no taxes, no more strikes and for the young folks, it was strikes “Obwedimo” against taxes, a Ugandan version of no taxation without representation pioneered by the late Mr Eriabu Kamya which forced changes on Bazungu.

Abolishing poll taxes has had only negative effects. Men drinking from mourning is one of them. In the past, before one paid his or her poll tax, they would be on guard and working hard to pay before the chiefs pounced. Not anymore.

Think about it, we the elite are doing the wrong thing.  What we should be calling for is more not less taxation if we genuinely treasure democratizaition in Uganda.  some Ugandan singer sang that “essay come say go”.  Ugandans want it essay, no taxes yet somehow hope aginst all odds that lack of taxation will translate into democracy. Wrong.

Ugandans should reflect on Oliver Wendel Holmes’ dictum: taxes are what people for civilization. You can define civilization any way you want.

WBK

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Laws in Kenya may not work in Uganda


Dear UAH
Let me take you back to that Kenyan bill on intra-party democracy…you know that one one forumist called Kjijomanyi in USA has threatened to whip Uganda’s legislators with.  It reminded me of his argument almost to the effect that, the organisational doctrine of the Kenya military is an OSFA…”One Size Fits All”…now, it is organisational doctrine of office seeking political groupings (is it “Parties”?).

What I believe is, that laws are moulded by the politico-economic realities that inform their formulation.  It may not be prudent to hope that, a law propounded in Kenya can be workable here in Uganda:

1/11 In my layman’s view, laws are qualitative expressions of the concrete realities that dictate their formulation.  When you transpose Kenyan legislation onto Uganda, all you will be doing is to dress up a porcupine in a Kanzu.  You are better off crafting a special attire that is tailored to the spikes of the porcupine.  Those spikes simply will shred the Kanzu.
2/11 I am reminded here of the political transitions in all three East African countries in the first decade of the 2000s.  Even a cursory glance at those transitions will tell you a huge story of what is possible in terms of democracy in Uganda, and how the question of economics comes into play….you know the old addage that “Politics is concentrated economics”…that is, politics are the qualitative expression, or the distillate of socioeconomic realities.  You can distil War Gin (Waragi) from Foot and Mouth Drink (Banana Beer) but not from milk.
3/11 In the early 2000s, Kenya depended on donor aid only to the tune of 5%, Tanzania, 33% while Uganda did so to the tune of 53%.  Those figures are a reflection of the robustness of the “fiscal contract” in the three countries…just forget about Thomas Hobbes’ nebulous and intellectually indolent “social contract” which pseudoliberals love to bandy about.  The nuts and bolts of the contract between political elites and their constituents is the fiscal imperative: tax, the subscription fee for membership to civil society.
4/11 Now, back to Uganda and her sisters, and the robustness of the fiscal contract.  What we see happening in Kenya in 2002 was a long-reigning President attempting to have the constituion – the supreme law – ammended so as to secure for himself another term in office.  That failed miserably.  What followed then in Kenya was the incumbent president was never brought back to office, but neither was the ruling party.  Kenya: President loses out, his party loses out, fiscal bond: 95%.
5/11 In Tanzania you have the highly institutionalised CCM, Mr Mkapa served his two terms from 1995, you could not even hear of a dreamer’s hint of a third term.  He stood down, eventually relinquishing the leadership of the CCM to his successor.  But even then, the party was returned in power.  Tanzania: President stands down, party remains in power, fiscal bond: 67%
6/11 In Uganda, the constitution was ammended to allow the incumbent to stand for a third term, he remained the head of the ruling party, and he remained in power.  Uganda: Constitution is ammended, president stays put, party is returned in power, fiscal bond: 47%.
7/11 Here is my hypothesis:  The level of democratic responsiveness of a political elite of any one country is inversely proportional to the extent of aid dependency of the country in question. Put differently, The level of democratic responsiveness of a political elite of any one country is  directly proportional to the extent to which the country in question relies on locally-generated revenue. The point here is, democracy is not just good manners.  Let me define it as “Democracy is the tight corner in which revenue-thirsty political elites find themselves when they are forced to rely on their own populations to function”. Forget about the hot air of si jui, rule of the people for the people blah, blah….By the way, on ammending constitutions to get third terms, recall that General Obasanjo had to even fly to Kampala to consult on how he could force through his 3rd term.  That consultation did not help: his people vetoed him.  Nigeria depends on aid only to the tune of 0.01%

8/11 Worse still, Uganda is even lacking in the level of democratic pressure that it can bring to bear on the political elite.  As you know, Uganda has the lowest median age in the world: 14.9 years.  We have the youngest population in the world, likewise, we have the least number of voters.  According to democratic theory, electoral politics only begins to make sense when 75% of the population can cast their vote.  That 75% tells also another story: when those many people can vote, it means also you have more adults, you have more potential tax payers/workers and you can therefore have a strong fiscal bond between the elite and the population.

9/11 In Uganda, only 40% of the population are of voting age, you have no quorum: bottomline, electoral politics in Uganda is a mockery; it is a slap in the face of liberal democracy and every time Uganda holds any form of election, that reality is always there for all to see.  There is no social basis for liberal democracy in Uganda.  That 40% also means you have less employable people, and less tax payers.  As you know, Uganda also has the highest dependency ratio in the world:- 100:111.  Since you even have the lowest number of people above the age of 65% in the world, it means that all your dependants are babies, nappy wearers.

10/11 Kenya is urbanised to the tune of 26%, Uganda: 12%.  Kenya’s median age is 18.6%…many more workers, many more tax payers, many more bargainers for political concessions.  Recall what it took to quell mass demonstrations recently: armed polic in combat, with live ammunition.  In Uganda: Kiboko squad…just whip them off the streets like the rowdy toddlers that they are.

11/11 So, three things for you to consider before you orthopaedically impose Kenyan law on Uganda.  One, context; secondly, context and third but not least and always easy to forget, context.

Lance Corporal (Rtd) Otto Patrick

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