Opinion: The Rise of the Cassava Republic

If there is no bread, eat muwogo (cassava). Africans confuse themselves. You are complaining there will be no bread, if there is no bread, eat cassava. I do not eat bread myself” – President Yoweri Tibuhurwa Kaguta Museveni (01.05.2022)

Eh! Are you hungry? We don’t eat bread around here. No matter if cooking oil prices is skyrocketing, if other commodities are going up. The fuel has already gone up and so has so much other things of late. So, when the President says people should eat Cassava instead of Bread. That is being said with the backdrop of rising wheat prices, as consequences of the Ukraine war.

It is not like this is only on cooking oil and wheat. No, this is on fuel, soap and sugar. Reported by Ssekandi: “According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the price of cooking oil increased by 21 % between December 2021 and February 2022, and the annual rise was 77.6 %. In February, a laundry-soap bar cost 20 % more than in December and almost 50 % more than one year earlier. The petrol price surged by 15.3 % in three months and by 34 % in 12 months” (Ronald Ssegujja Ssekandi – ‘Ugandan government sees inflation as external shock’ 02.05.2022, D+C – Development and Cooperation).

So, this is a real issue. This is starting to look like the inflation of 2011 and how things became to costly. Which was creating strikes and the activist organizations of Activists for Change (A4C). The famous “walk to work” and that could happen again. As the prices are too high and the salaries are too low. If not to low… they are not co-existing with the realities on the ground. The gig economy isn’t ensuring a safety-net or a real adjustment of salaries in comparison of the rising prices.

The way the President spoke by it was damage control, because his government and institutions could do something about it. The state could insert trade-incentives and erase barriers to the market. The state could for time being suspend certain taxes and even value added taxes (VAT) in such a manner, that the prices would drop a little. However, that is of no concern. The same is with the expensive imports and whatnot. The landlocked republic needs imports, as it is not self-sufficient on a lot of commodities.

Yes, food wise there are alternatives and the farmers can sustain a lot. The massive production of plantain, cassava and millet can patch the hurt. However, that is not what everyone eats on the regular. That’s why imported rice and other things comes into play. Even maize-flour is imported and we can just imagine the rising prices on that as well. Not to talk about the beans and meat prices in all of this.

The President is just trying to get away from the problem, as it arises and he has seemingly very few tools at his disposal or any sort of coffers to clear the windfall. The cassava is only to patch the hurt, but will not salvage anything. It is only the fruits of his labour and how he has not set forward or had any clues how to govern. He only knows get-quick-rich schemes and Ponzi-schemes looking like micro-financing policies. This was bound to fall and you cannot spend money you don’t have and not have any sort of collateral or assets to trade with. That’s why his encircled by his own financial policies and cannot catch up. The spiralling debt, the lack of domestic revenue and the short-sighted government programmes only deprecates the state and gives it less incentive to move forward.

That’s why this is a real Cassava republic. Where it’s soon to expensive to fry it in the pan. Either the gas, the charcoal or the cassava itself is too expensive. While, the bread is only for the elites anyway. Lord have mercy, the damage we do upon ourselves. The heir is also rising to the throne, but he will have no clue what to do. Except for torturing, extra judicial killings and spreading false-hood on social media. Peace.

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