By Ofwono Opondo
National Resistance Movement (NRM) members of parliament are at the National Leadership Institute (NALI), Kyankwanzi for a one week retreat under the theme “Industrialization for job creation and shared prosperity,” which will review progress over the last three years. Going by the first two days, engagements have been vigorous, and hopefully, MPs will return wiser, ideologically energized, cohesive and committed to a higher sense of purpose. In particular, and without appearing to be offensive, NRM leaders must strive to remove wet appetite for soft money from our politics in order to regain the high moral ground and ideological credibility otherwise the Ugandans are getting into a foul mood.
Meanwhile, among the combined opposition, it is apparently easy being in their small corners after-all, the only thing one needs for visibility is flay President Yoweri Museveni, NRM and government. One doesn’t have to understand the hard numbers on population growth, disease incidences, global economic indicators, and much less, differentiating fiscal policy from law enforcement issues.
Well, this is at least according to presidential aspirant Robert Kyagulanyi a.k.a. Bobi Wine. But that doesn’t mean that the many hours we are yet to listen to him leaves us with nothing to do. Rather, it makes plenty of questionable statements catch our attention, although it doesn’t make him the first to be caught in policy or common-sense ignorance.
When you consider that Uganda already had military generals Idi Amin Dada as president for eight solid years, and Tito Okello Lutwa (six months), both ‘illiterate’ and couldn’t understand “foreign exchange,” you are left without much option except to pity Bobi Wine and his presumably gullible followers. And therein, we may be starting to find out that, perhaps, someone is a political fraud.
The emerging ugly feud among opposition groups is answering, yet again whether they represent midlife crisis or descent into senility. Fans of sledgehammer politics will soon find out if Kizza Besigye and Kyagulanyi will drive their trucks with hooligans past the red warning signs on the road. As they pick straws, wagging their tongue, and roll in their dung, the impostor syndrome is becoming evident, although half their supporters can’t even remember which lie they previously told.
As rival factions within DP call out each other as ‘watermelons’ and ‘pumpkins’, it will be interesting watching how they take down Kizza Besigye, the enigma who is finding it very hard to let go his loss-making business after remorseless pursuit for twenty years now. Besigye, whose comfort zone is rebelling, is facing a historic tit to his own leadership. The media, ought to be alert in checking the careless spreading of false, inaccurate or misleading information by presidential contenders.
Critical to the NRM retreat is finding innovative, creative, affordable and sustained means to deliver services to the broad majority of vulnerable Ugandans still in the informal sectors or unable to tap into the many available opportunities.
In this ‘Kisanja hakuna Mchezo’ which means ‘seriousness’, in tackling many obstacles including corruption, policy and implementation gaps in public service delivery towards modernity, each MP and leader ought to search their souls to vigorously drive job creation, productivity and inclusive growth.
Foremost, security which is the bench mark for development has been consolidated both within Uganda and regionally contributing to rising numbers in tourism. In 2018, Uganda recorded over one million five hundred thousand tourists and all indications are that there are prospects for further growth in numbers and revenue.
Uganda has registered consistent economic progress in the in the last three decades averaging 6% per year. Revenue collections has also grown from a sh5billion in 1986 to sh9.7 trillion in 2014/15 which has enabled Uganda to finance many huge projects from internal sources. A huge stock of infrastructural projects especially to facilitate transportation, energy, water, ICT, health and education have been built or ongoing among them Karuma and Isimba power dams, highways, expressways and critical bridges. The network of paved roads have not improved but expanded tremendously to over 5320km linking most of Uganda’s commercial points, and international borders, which lowers travel time, cost and facilitate doing business.
The retreat will also be used to determine and bridge the gaps. Knowing whether the gaps are at the top, middle or bottom but obviously, the most critical weaknesses at the lower rungs where services are delivered. NRM members must as of necessity build convergence and consensus deepening their collective ideological outlook on national priority issues. So far, during the last one year, President Museveni has launched more than thirty factories creating tens of thousands of jobs.
The NRM caucus retreat will also review the National Development Plan II (NDPII) of 2016-2021, as Uganda prepares for NDPIII, which is midway Vision 2040. By that point, it should be crystal clear and within horizon where resources for further progress will come from. As NRM strengthens its agenda and dusts off for 2021, MPs should be able to provide confidence to Ugandans that indeed policies are delivering the intended objectives of socio-economic transformation, patriotism, Pan-Africanism, and sustained democracy.
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