THE 2013 STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS THAT NEVER WAS
The Truth that the President Should Have told Ugandans
1. The tradition of a President delivering a State of the Nation Address was never part of our constitutional tradition until the promulgation of the 1995 Constitution. When this requirement was enshrined in article 101, it was intended that the President, on an annual basis, gives a full account to Ugandan citizens and taxpayers, through their elected representatives, the State of our Nation. The State of the Nation address is therefore an address to appraise the Nation about the state of our democracy, the state of our economy, the state of our socio-economic infrastructure, the state of public service delivery, the state of our military, and the state of our international relations, among others.
2. It is therefore disappointing to see that after 27 years of leading this country, President Museveni would address the Nation and fail to address the issues that are central to the citizens of Uganda. In 2001, he deceived the Nation and wrote in his election manifesto that he was seeking the mandate to lead Uganda for the last term of office. Since then, he has deceived our teachers, our health workers, university professors and all Ugandans. At this rate, deception and corruption could turn out to be the most enduring legacy of his presidency.
3. The President needs to be truthful to Ugandans to the fact that what he calls the 10 strategic bottlenecks is a clear manifestation of his failed leadership. If he failed to end “ideological disorientation” through his Muchaka Muchaka courses, it only means that he is pursuing an ideologically disoriented system. If he hasn’t succeeded in building the pillars of state after 27 years in power, it means that all along he has pursued a wrong strategy. After 27 years at the helm of leadership, he can’t be talking about promoting the private sector or modernizing agriculture or developing the human resources of our country as if he started leading Uganda yesterday. That is being disingenuous.
4. What Mr. Museveni should be telling Ugandans in a State of the Nation Address is what he has done to build the pillars of state, what progress has he made and when does he hope to complete this undertaking? How does the increase in population from 14 million to 35 million constitute the development of human resource capital? The World Bank (2010) projects that at the current level of Mr. Museveni Government’s investment in education, Uganda’s labor force in 2030 will be worse off in terms of education attainment than that of Ghana in 2010 and lower than what South Korea and Malaysia were in 1970. Mr. Museveni’s Government projects to increase its percentage of the labor force with secondary education to 48 percent in the next 20 years by 2030. Malaysia achieved a 60 percent target in 10 years. Ghana has projected to raise its percentage of the labor force with post-primary education from 60 percent in 2010 to 80 percent by 2030.
5. Mr. Museveni has told the story of our economic growth for the last two decades but this is not our main point of contention. What we contested and what he continues to run away from at every State of the Nation Address is what does that growth mean to ordinary Ugandans? What does the 5.1% GDP growth or the size of GDP mean to the 400,000 young men and women that come through our tertiary education system to look for jobs in a jobless market? Out of every 100 youth of this country, 83 of them have no formal employment. What does the increase in revenue collection mean to these youth or how many jobs did his Government create over the last financial year? What does 3.6% inflation mean to hardworking business men and women who have to pay the highest interest rates in this region? How can he pursue monetary and fiscal policies that kill businesses through high interest rates and he calls it strengthening the private sector?
6. We will call upon Parliament, through the Leader of the Opposition, to put the President’s address to more rigorous scrutiny for it to pass for a State of the Nation Address. Parliament voted for over UGX10 trillion to be spent during the financial year ending June 30, 2013. Where is the commencement of works on the railway line that he promised in the last address? Where are the works for the Karuma project? How many kilometers of paved roads did the Government add on the Nation’s road network and what should we expect for the next financial year? How does the President account for the 16 mothers that continue to die every day after the taxpayer and donor money that has been sunk into our health services system?
7. Year after year, Mr. Mueseveni has deceived the country by committing and then failing to increase salaries or improving the working conditions of our teachers, health workers, and the men and women who service in our police services and the armed forces. The lame explanation is that Government has a limited resource envelop and everybody has to be patient by waiting for money from oil. But this Government squandered over UGX500 billions during the CHOGM debacle. A businessman walked away with UGX162 billion for building ghost markets. Without shame, over UGX6 billion meant for buying bicycles for village council leaders was stolen under his watch.
8. Of course if Mr. Museven cared, he would use the opportunity presented by the State of the Nation Address to announce major reforms to cut down the size of his bloated Government and the wastage associated with it, confront the cancer of corruption and channel the resources saved from such reforms to implement programmes that benefit had working Ugandans such as teachers, health workers, and the men and women who serve in our armed forces. On the contrary, he has become an expert, not in solving the problems facing the country, but by blaming others for his failures. Leadership by deception and blaming your failures on others has never been a formula for transformation of Nations.
9. You are all aware that some of our men and women in the UPDF are in faraway lands in Somalia, Central African Republic and elsewhere. These men and women are some of the best of our citizens because they pay the ultimate sacrifice in fighting terror, contributing to our pan African agenda and most importantly, safeguarding our freedoms and our democracy. The State of the Nation Address is a singular opportunity to recognize the sacrifice of these gallant men and women who carry our Nation’s flag in some of the most dangerous and treacherous environments. To fail to recognize their service in a State of the Nation address is to fail the litmus test of what such an address should cover. In any case, Parliament and the country should expect the President to appraise the Nation on the strategic policy goals of these deployments and the exist plan that enables our officers and men to be reunited with their families at an appropriate time.
10. The State of the Nation address is commanded by our Constitution which is the foundation of our emerging democracy. No doubt, there has been checkered progress in our democracy mainly expressed in our ability to hold regular elections. However, the gross imperfections in our democratization process epitomized in the excessive use of money, rampant rigging and election violence are all issues that a President should address in a State of the Nation Address. The increasing onslaught on free speech, the attacks on the media, the continuing harassment of organized civil society and the pushback on progressive and independent minded Members of Parliament are clear manifestations of democratic reversals.
11. Ugandans expected the President to outline the building blocks that his Government intends to pursue to strengthen our democracy enterprise: what is the road map to free and fair elections to 2016? What is the agenda and timeline for electoral reforms? Does the President hope to provide leadership on the restoration of presidential term limits? Does he have a succession plan or doesn’t he see his failure to organize a peaceful transition as putting him squarely in the docket of the previous leaders?
12. It is unfortunate that Mr. Museven’s rule is coming to an end before he is able to comprehend the simple fact that the best way to benchmark a country’s success and transformation is not to benchmark it against the failures of the past or the failures of others. Leaders that help nations achieve transformation benchmark their successes against a shared vision, targets and timeframes.
13. Mr. Museveni has for the last 27 years put more energy in blaming others for his failures rather than focusing on what he should have accomplished given the good will that Ugandans gave him and the resources at his disposal. Let me also remind him that deception, corruption, oppression and intolerance that have become the hallmark of his rule are not a winning formula for achieving socio-economic transformation. Unemployed youth, under resourced public sector workers or traders cannot be teargased into increasing productivity. History has taught us that it is only political and economic freedom that are capable of unleashing the ingenuity of a people to transform a nation. And you don’t need 27 years to learn that. I implore the President to use the remaining 3 years of his presidency to redirect his energies towards pursuing an agenda that strengthens our democracy and growing the economy to create jobs
14. In conclusion, the Forum for Democratic Change will shortly unveil an alternative development agenda aimed at putting our country on a growth trajectory that creates jobs, ensure the dignity of every Uganda and transforms our country.
For God and my Country
Major General (Rtd) Mugisha Muntu
Forum for Democratic Change
(Håper du likte å lese dette til å svare på den forrige saken jeg la ut!).