Some of you asked me (I suppose because I am now seen as an enemy of the opposition), my take on the policy responses/platforms offered by Dr Besigye and Mr. Mao to the questions posed by Mr. Hussein Bogere of the Uganda Observer nnewspaper. Can Mr. Bogere clarify something for us: were the questions sent to the candidates who then sent back written responses? Or did Mr. Bogere send the questions to the candidates in advance and then met with them to respond? Or the candidates showed up for the interview without prior knowledge of what Mr. Bogere would ask them. This is important and should be routine disclosure.
That said, I have read the questions and the responses by the two opposition candidates. What I came away with is a need for the candidates to clarify some of their proposals, but keep talking more policy and issues.
Mr. Mao says he will hold a referendum on federalism. The questions I have for him are as follows: when will he hold the referendum on federalism? Will Mr. Mao produce the necessary bills, take them for debate before MPs, get them passed, and then take the federal proposals to the voters for ratification?
Or will Mr. Mao “leading by personal example” frame the federal question and take it to the voters to decide whether he should proceed with his federal proposals? I would like to hear more about the sequencing of the referendum from Mr. Mao or his camp.
The other question I have for Mr.Mao comes from his response to the education-employment question that “Uganda needs to concentrate on polytechnic education. There are many people clad in neckties and suits with clipboards chasing very few jobs…what we need now is to tap into the global economy by having information and call centres the way India is doing, so that we can give international jobs locally. Secondly, we need an education system to equip our people with skills to make something, whether chairs or candles, or table clothes; you have something to sell and that means all you need to do is get a buyer.”
This needs to be clarified. Is Mr. Mao saying that Uganda needs a strong apprenticeship program? If that is the case, what is it he will propose to do to develop such a scheme which is the envy of Germany (many European countries have tried to imitate Germany with limited success).
Regarding call centers, Uganda can start them today because it has some advantages, a) well educated workforce who speaks English. b) Favorable time difference, 5 hour difference from most of Europe, 8 hour difference with Eastern USA and Canada, 11 hour difference with Western USA and Canada etc.
What then is the problem? High electricity rates, endless electricity shortages and high telephone rates. Ugandans in their stupidity have almost killed the land line so talk of call centers will remain pipe dream. If these are improved, the manpower is there so Mr. Mao should talk more about the infrastructure.
He says he will switch to federalism. When? Is he saying that he will table the necessary bills and once passed and he signs them into law, Uganda shall become a federal state? In other words, unlike Mr. Mao, Dr Besigye is saying that Ugandans voters elect their MPs to make tough decisions and once they pass his federalism bills that will be it. The differences between the two candidates could become clearer once they clarify and add meat to their proposals.
Dr Besigye promises to reduce current taxes. Which taxes? Let him be more specific. There is an issue for the opposition to lead. Hint: the Heritage oil issue, section 89G and now the proposed amendment by Minister Omach.
Regarding irrigation-it is about time-how will Dr Besigye deal with the colonial treat that forbids Uganda-the source of the Nile-from using Nile water for irrigation while Egypt and Sudan can do so? Will Dr Besigye capture rain water and use it for irrigation? We need to hear more detailed proposals.
I hope that helps the candidates to clarify their proposals and sharpened them before rolling them out to the voters.
DP ELDER IN USA