Mozambique is billed as the fastest growing economy sometimes with double-digit figures. But this country has huge levels of poverty. Why? The answer lies in where the country was before it started climbing. For example if a country’s GDP is almost zero while its unemployment rate is almost 100%, then even if it takes off with growth rates of 20%, you have to admit that it may take as many 50 years just to reach the break-even point i.e. the point where all its service and goods production sectors absorb all the labor potential it has. At this point the unemployment rate would be around zero. If it continues growing, then it starts making a profit – i.e. it has a surplus of jobs that it can give to outside kyeyo seekers.
Uganda has been growing economically at an impressive rate but it is far from reaching the break-even point. There are very few jobs in the urban centers even for the urbanites let alone attracting more people from the rural areas. Those courageous enough to venture into urban areas have ended up in terrible slums and poverty.
It is imperative that the rate of growth of the economy in terms of jobs created be accelerated. It is absolutely necessary to attract 40% of the people currently on the land to urban areas where they can be employed in other sectors and not depend directly on the land! If Uganda can achieve a ratio of only 40% who directly depend on land, it would have moved a long way to solving all the land conflicts that are likely to ensue.Lets dig a bit deeper on this:
1. Museveni and NRM has ALWAYS advocated a more export oriented economy than the current import based one. I don’t see many other emerging tigers that have come far with seriously strengthening their export base. We cannot revive Uganda without creating a better balance of payments. Ugandans must strive to produce more and export more. There have been many initiatives to jumpstart Ugandan farmers towards high productivity, but all have come to very little because of the ordinary Ugandan farmer’s ATTITUDE! Someone cannot fault Museveni or the NRM on this front. Therefore the current economic woes that have been caused to a large extent because we do not produce to export, cannot entirely be blamed on Museveni and NRM alone.
2. Museveni has always advocated increase in the power generation capacity of the country. Bujagali is 10 years behind schedule because some myopic politicians put self-interest before national interest. The guys who worked tireless to block Bujjagali in 2000 did not want it added to the laurels of the NRM come the 2001 elections! Their real aim was to delay the Bujjagali construction until after 2001 when they hope they would be in power. Unfortunately their strategy did not work to dislodge Museveni and/or NRM but has instead turned out to hurt the economy! At that time Lukyamuzi said that Uganda did not need that much power and therefore there was no need for the dam! Well, we can now see where the wisdom really was! Is it any wonder that Museveni works these things to his advantage! The people can easily tell who was farsighted and who was myopic!
3. Museveni, once he adopted the free/liberation economic model, he has not looked backwards. Although there may be bumps along the way, even mere ordinary Ugandans can see that they are moving forward. Although public social services in health and education are not good, Ugandans can see that they are not worse than yesteryears! The problem that people like Kashambuzi have is they think they are the only ones who see! Whereas the opposition has capitalized on painting a picture of doom and hopelessness, the NRM and Museveni have given people a hope for a better future in spite of the current challenges. Museveni represents hope for Ugandans while the opposition and doomsday prophets only promise people darkness and doom! By their nature most people choose HOPE against doom! Is it any wonder that Museveni keeps beating the opposition even when they pain the most dire future!
4.The civil disobedience that Kampala and parts of the other urban areas have witnessed last year do not in any way mean the NRM is loosing it! What matters most to people is whether they can accept the explanations that their leaders give. I have listened to many debates, and I have seen that the NRM policy initiatives are always on the winning side! The economic conditions that caused the riots have bitten the urbanites most. These same conditions were a huge boost for the majority rural peasants who are the main power base of NRM and Museveni. Now how can the minority interest overthrow the majority interest except if they extra-legal means!
5.Opposition should know that civil disobedience must be lead by a moral middle-class fighting for the common man. In Uganda, the middle class who would lead the civil disobedience are themselves completely discredited. They have no moral high ground against the NRM. The middle-class of all political and tribal persuasions are the ones involved in fleecing the common Ugandan! Can they really lead a mass movement against Museveni! I say NO!
6.Museveni and the NRM has continued to have its ears firmly on the ground, listening and feeling the common people’s interests. They have mastered the art of handling the people’s interest – sometimes to the detriment of the country’s forward march as a whole. But this policy has paid off great dividends by making NRM almost impregnable. The best shot that the opposition under Besigye had was the 2006 election! After that, with the resolution of the pain of the people of the north, the NRM has bought itself a winning breather for another 10 years. By the time that political credit is eaten up, the oil will have come online and many of the ills in infrastructure construction and social service delivery will have significantly improved. In short after having reached the bottom and still failed to be dislodged from power, the only way for the NRM is upwards. Even if President Museveni doesn’t stand in 2016, the NRM will still win the power. If the next NRM is as skilful as Museveni, the NRM will not split and will continue to lead Uganda!
God Bless Ugandan At-Heart.
UAH member working with Bank of Uganda.