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.
President Museveni’s 2022 Labour Day was all about micro-finance and cassava…
“Before our time, no government was giving money to the people to get out of poverty. Getting out of poverty was everyone’s private business. If you wanted to get out of poverty that was your own private issue. But we (NRM) have been giving money [to citizens ] since the time of Entandikwa, then prosperity for all… But all this time, the responsibility was being taken by government officials. That was where the confusion started from” – President Yoweri Tibuhurwa Kaguta Museveni (01.05.2022).
It is just like President Museveni wants to sound like he invented everything. He speaks like no government have ever had social security nets or unemployment programs. Yes, he claims to be the first one, but there been plenty of governments who has made this happen. FDR in the United States did it through various of programs in the New Deals in the 1930s and several other nations has used socialist programs to get people out of poverty through various of social security schemes. This here is a fraud and a fake. A manner of which you take credit and say you invented the Micro-Financing schemes and the first to do it. That is really foolish, but that is the Ugandan President of 2022. Micro-Financing and Micro-Credit was introduced in the 1990s in Uganda, but it was already a thing from the 1970s. So, it wasn’t only done in Uganda, but done so in Bangladesh and elsewhere before Museveni came into power.
“I heard Filbert calling me a chief worker. I’m not a worker; I’m a bourgeois. I’m part of the middle class. You can’t call middle-class a worker. That’s not an ideological definition. Of course I work, but I work as a member of the middle class” (Museveni, 01.05.2022).
This is maybe the first time he doesn’t call himself a farmer or a son of peasant. I’m shocked and in awe. His one of the richest people on the continent and still he describes himself as “middle-class”. Like we are supposed to believe he only earns the millions of shillings he gets through his salary.
“We need a workforce of very many workers. There is a way for that. The Parish Development Model should kickstart us to have about 60 million workers” (Museveni, 01.05.2022).
Uganda is estimated to have around 48 million citizens by 1st July 2022 based on projections of United Nations data. Out of this about 30% of these are adolescents, meaning a third of the population isn’t eligible for full-time work since they are not of age to do so. Because adolescence is from 10 years to 19 years old. This is based on data from UNFPA from a few years ago. Still, this all shows that the President have clearly the wrong memo about 60 million workers in Uganda. That means everyone from toddlers to the elderly… will work on the field or become a part of the rampant gig-economy.
“We want everyone in the Parish who has access to land to join a Parish Development SACCO. It doesn’t matter if they have money to not. They should just prove that they have land to do agriculture” (Museveni, 01.05.2022).
“If you have agricultural land, do not work only for the stomach. You should also work for the pocket” (Museveni, 01.05.2022).
It is really weird the way this is said on labour day. As the micro-finance scheme is so vital in it. The sort of amplified SACCO and NAADs called Parish Development Model (PDM). Where every farmer has to be part of it and register to have access. So, just like in the Soviets every farmer should be part of a scheme and earn from it. Which is very ironic, as he asks of everyone to work for their pockets. That is initially wanting everyone to be profit driven and incentive by currency. Not be content with having enough food or shelter, but supposed to also strive for surplus funds. However, if it was that easy. His government would have made it happen over the last 35 years or so. It is really tragic that all of the schemes since launching in the 1990s are not working and they continue to relaunch them in new names. Just like they did with the PDM, Emyooga and Operation Wealth Creation. It’s all the same gig, built on the same foundation, but changing its name and partly how it’s operating. Nevertheless, it doesn’t come to anything and is only a money-pit. As its not giving incentives or the ability to create natural growth. That’s why we are seeing this sort of talk and it’s the failure of the President who continues to beg people to think of profits and not of leisure.
“If there is no bread eat cassava. Africans really confuse themselves, they are worried about shortage of wheat supply caused by Russian Ukraine War. If there is no wheat, please eat cassava. Myself I don’t eat bread” (Museveni, 01.05.2022).
Do you ever wonder, if someone lives in a bubble and doesn’t see what people are seeing? Because, this man thinks this is splendid advice. The sort of talk that only shows his isn’t concerned and doesn’t feel the plights of the commoner. No, he is beyond that and telling the peasants to be happy with what they have and not strive for more. Which is ironic, as he has spoken of people wishing of wealth, think of their pocket, but they got to settle on cassava.
This shows how out of touch the President is and it’s not shocking as his ticking closer to 40 years in power. The President has lived in his bubble for all of these years and with more and more yes-men. People are just complying and not giving him any good advice. He orders, directs and tell how everyone is supposed to move. This speech was no difference. That is very obvious. As he believes in this 1990s mechanism and thinks the PDM will make a difference, which will be far from the truth. If the PDM would work, the Emyooga, the PDM and all the Micro-Finance institutions would have ushered in a new era already. However, it haven’t and that’s because the Republic and the nation isn’t built for it. The markets, the people and the structure isn’t ready for it. This is just a fact and it’s been proven time, and time again.
There is a need for a new direction and aims, which will improve people’s lives, as these short-term incentives only takes a few people that far and when the cash is low. They are back to nothing and with a loan to pay-off in their name. That’s why this is going nowhere and fast. It doesn’t matter how many times the President says people should work for their pockets. When there is few too little jobs, low salaries and rising prices, running inflations and lack of development in general. That’s all the fault of the President and his government who hasn’t served the community and citizens.
Nevertheless, the President will never take any accountability and he will blame everyone else. Now people should chew cassava, join a SACCO and think about their pockets. However, it isn’t that easy and when you cannot get your produce to the market or even have an ability to earn. Why should you or even be concerned with the pleas of the old man?
Well… he just wants to be right, but at this his wrong. His doing the same trick, as he promised in the 1990s and think it can work in 2020s. Well… the old man is late and he should reconfigure and find tricks that fits the vibrant markets of this era and not continue with the schemes of the Structural Adjustment Programs. Peace.
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