Last week someone sent me an email reminding me that it was Heroes day in the Republic of Uganda. It came at a time when I was writing another article on the way forward for our great republic. With this in mind I have decided to write about both issues in this article.
I read the President’s address in Hoima on the subject of Heroes with kin interest and great concern as for over a month the Besigye and Museveni camps where throwing mad at each other on who contributed more or less in the bush war.
This gave me questions; who is a Hero? Does he/she have to be a member of the Ruling Government?
From the time the white man stepped onto the Ugandan soil, many people have contributed to the well being of Uganda. King Kabalaga, Kabaka Mwanga, Nuwa Mbogo, Sir Apollo Kagwa, Semei Kakungulu, Musazi, Kabaka Mutesa, Obote, Ben Kiwanuka, Idd Amini, Yusuf Lule, Binaisa, Prof Nabudele, Tito Okello, Lutwa and Museveni have all made a contribution to the country. Whether the individual was poor in his position as a leader, he has put a mark on the history of the country.
In Britain, whether it is a Conservative or Labour government, Churchill, Oliver Cornwell, even King Henry the 8th who has gone in the histroy of Britain as one of the worst leaders, is always celebrated. Actually this year new coins are being issued in remembrance of the rule of Henry the 8th. Its the contributions of these people that have made our Republic a melting pot which makes us a unique country.
The Government should not cherry pick who is a hero and who is not. We should not have this mad throwing by the Museveni camp and Besigye in defining who is a hero and who is not. Heroes of the country should not be only those who can fire a gun. We all contribute to the well being of the country in different ways.There are Nurses, Teachers, Police officer around the country who play a part in making the machine we call Uganda run.These are the everyday heroes of the Republic of Uganda, we should always appreciate what they do.
Now turning to the other issue I was planning to write about. What’s the way forward for the Republic? It will be 47 years in four mouths since we obtained independence from the British. Uganda like life, is a project and like any other project we must evaluate its success and failure. Of the 47 years, 23 years have been under one leadership; that of Museveni and the rest is divided between Obote, Mutesa, Amin, Lule, Binaisa, Paul Muwanga, Tito Okello and Lutwa.
After 47 years we should now stop blaming the west for our failures. On the 09th October 1962 we told the British we can govern ourselves. Have we managed to do so? The British left us with one dam, Rail network, Tarmacked Roads (1809km), an airport and airline, a national health service which was based on one introduced by the labour party in Britain over 60years ago,an education system which was the pride of Africa, Transport system (UTC), Housing finance system which brought countries like Singapore to Uganda to study it so they could copy it in their own countries plus other properly running Government systems. The par capita income in 1962 was about $3 a day, today it’s about $1.25 a day.
What is left after 47 years down the road? Let’s start with the dam, yes it is still functional but it’s capacity can not service the population as it was meant for about 10 million people of the day. Britain has no dams but it has enough energy to keep them going for the next 50 years. Our energy policy has failed. Just a month of infighting in kenya brought the country to a stand still. The rail network does not exist. I am so much attached to the rail system because my own father worked with the East African Railways. Tarmacked roads are Just 2076 kms which mean since 1962 we have only increases it by about 200km. The airport still exists but its capacity can not copy with the increased google generation who are tavelling the world everyday.
We have no regional airports which could reduce the burden on Entebbe. When the American president visited, all the airport was cut off to everyone else travelling. This is an economic problem. As for the Health service, Hospitals are in a sad state that a daughter of the president can not give bath in these hospitals..I was in mbale hospital, children with different disease share the same bed. No medicine, you have to buy it form private drug stores which are owned by doctors on Government pay. I will be told that there is an increase in private medical care and those who can afford to obtain medical care abroad can do so. This i just about 3% of the population of Uganda. My grand mam in Namalogo in mbale can not afford this.As for education, Makerere has dropped in the world rankings. Even with the introduction of UPE, the standards have dropped so low that competition on the world stage will always be a problem for our students. As for the housing finance, it is still in existance but it has not helped the local person to get on to the property ladder. The cooperative societies which were the backbone of the country’s economy were delt a final blow by the introduction of liberalisation by the then Minister of Cooperative the late James Wapakabulo.
Cooperatives also hold a special place in my life as my father after leaving the East African Railways, worked for Bugisu Cooperative Union for 27 years before he retired in 1997.We have failed so much that we did not know part of our country ( Migingo Island) until recently. Actually my advise to the people of Migingo is to proclaim independence from both Uganda and Kenya. If the two countries’ claim for this island comes after over 40 years since both countries got independence, it means this island has not received any help from both countries.
They have been living without the help of both countries, which means they can still live without it, and hence independence is the only way forward.
So why have we failed to improve on what was left behind by the British? It’s simple, for so long we have continued to recycle the leadership. We have used the same people to ran the country; “we have had Obote, Amin, Lule, Binaisa,Obote, Tito, Museveni and people like Bidandi, Mayanja Nkanji, Semogerere to mention but a few”. All these came from that band of people who were in the independence struggles. They feel it’s their right to rule us as they took part in the independence struggles. This has created a situation where no new ideas come in and the country is held hostage by these so called independence heroes.
Leaders keep on thinking inside the box rather than outside the box. In the end it has created high corruption and hence faillure to improve the situation in the Republic.
What’s the way forward? My way forward is controversial but it’s the only solution for the Republic. Sometime back someone wrote; for Uganda to move forward, Iddi Amini, Obote, and Museveni should leave the political scene of the country. I do agree, and I also add that those who have been on the country’s political system since the independence days should leave the stage to pave way for new ideas. The world has changed, we are now living in the google, youtube, twitter, facebook, generation. Competition is global, we have to compete with other countries and thinking outside the box will be the only solution.
Let us have fresh ideas. Political parties should be democratic. This idea of Maria Obote becoming the leader of UPC just because she was the wife of the late leader is not democracy. She even goes ahead to sack someone because he is opposed to her son taking over the party. This is the problem with the parties in Uganda, they are undemocratic and their roles is to purely oppose and provide no solutions.
Whatever side of the divide you are, Museveni has contributed to the country, this must be acknowledged by the opposition. After acknowledging that, then tell the people where he has failed and then give them solutions. The middle class has increased, it needs better service such as roads, rail, planes, security, housing and proper business environment.
The government has failed on that, so the opposition should be looking at how to help this class of people plus the rural poor who are looking for medication, education and good transport network to transport the produces to the market. This should be the battle ground for the 2011 presidentail polls not personalities.
My idea is controversial, but it’s the best way forward for the republic.
For God and my country.
Laman Napio Masaba
One World Consultants