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Day January 20, 2011



If we dare not identify the nature of our ailment, then our only resort shall be witchcraft; and I see the equivalent of witchcraft here at UAH, in the manner in which we continue to debate the phenomenon of “brown envelopes”.

The way the political elite (including our own in Uganda) relate with their constituents is what ordinarily is called responsiveness, i.e., the extent to which policy elites defer to the preferences of the populations they serve and capacity of those populations to articulate their preferences.


To have a proper grasp of elite responsiveness, one has to be aware of the four country/political system contexts that shape the policy process. First, is the ‘traditional’ political systems, very low income largely pre-industrial, rural societies, non-monetised economy; second are the low income countries undergoing rapid socio-economic and political change with rising expectations, low levels of political institutionalisation, low integration of the socio-political system; third are the middle income countries, and the fourth group are the high income, highly urbanised industrial countries, high on the human development index.

4/6 While Uganda is hovering between the first and second group of countries, many of us tend to refer talk as if Uganda is in the fourth group, and that is where problems begin in all areas of policy debate in Uganda. This brings back to mind the tired metaphor: If you want to love a butterfly, you care for caterpillars. Whereas caterpillars feed on leaves, many of us would feed them on nectar: the food for butterflies.

5/6 For the countries in the first group, the common type of responsiveness is “symbolic”. All that the populations want is to be waved at by the politician, or to be allowed to prostrate before the monarch, or for the gombolola to be visited by the President, with crowds jostling to have a glance:…”Eeeeeh! Magulunyondo Ansekedde”…’he smiled at me’, Ooooooooooh bannange, I shook the president’s hand…..mere symbols. Populations of the countries of the second group demand for services, soap, salt, fees, jobs, uniform for children, etc. Uganda falls between those two. Populations in the third group countries demand for allocations in terms of infrastructure etc, in the fourth group they demand for good policies. Uganda does not belong to the latter two.

6/6 In the matrix below, Uganda straddles between Group 1 and 2, but mainly in 2..shaded….and attempting to imagine that it is in Goup 4, like many at UAH is a dream which is as hopeless as it is hapless. Unless we take bold measures to cause ourselves to metamorphose to stage three or directly to stage four, we shall be stuck with brown envelopism (and brown barkclothism). When that metamorphosis takes place, the time to introduce the word “revolution” in our vocabulary will have arrived. As of now, bado!

Uganda: between Group 1 and 2……

STYLE OF ELITE RESPONSIVENESS : click below to open the table showing all the groups:

Lance Corporal (Rtd) Patrick Otto

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