Our country is at a critical stage of development/conditions to take off where we need to move forward under steady leadership
By Simeo Nsubuga
On October 21, 2017, I attended the official opening of the Bukedea Comprehensive Academy constructed by Anita Among, the Woman MP for Bukedea district.
I noticed how the area was scented with a peaceful environment.
My mind was driven back to the last time I visited Teso in 2006 and 2007 together with some officers to assess the Karimojong cattle rustlers security issue.
By then, insecurity was at its peak in the region. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) had just killed people in Teso. I saw fresh graves at Obalanga Primary School. The Arrow Boys were very active, under the command of Musa Ecweru and co-ordinated by Mike Mukula to prevent the LRA from advancing in Teso.
Ten years after, Teso is now peaceful and cattle rustling is history. The LRA were defeated. All major roads are tarmacked such as the Soroti-Lira highway, Soroti-Katakwi-Moroto under construction and the Teso University is almost complete. The works at Soroti Industrial Park are ongoing. There are new buildings in all the major towns in the region.
All these were possible because of the sturdy foundation of the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) as a disciplined pro-people’s army. The UPDF has been very instrumental in ensuring peace and security for all the people of Uganda.
Before the coming of the British, we had tribal wars fuelled by rival kings and kingdoms/chiefdoms and specifically Karamoja was never pacified, but the pro-peace UPDF managed to disarm the rustlers, defeated Kony and the ADF and now our Army has the capacity to ensure that nobody disturbs the peace of Ugandans.
The UPDF has provided security across the African continent in the CAR, South Sudan, DRC and Somalia, which is now relatively peaceful and secure with business gradually revamping. As a country, because of the relative peace and security, we have enjoyed more success in development of physical infrastructure.
Uganda is currently fledged with a number of tarmac roads with 5,200km compared to the 1,200km in 1986, when the ruling NRM government had just taken over.
Almost all towns bordering Kampala Capital City are accessed on tarmac roads, cross-linking to almost all districts in the country with the remaining few still under construction.
The Government now spends more on oil roads under construction to facilitate the recently launched oil pipeline and related infrastructure such as the roads and the Kabaale International Airport in Hoima district — the second airport in our country after Entebbe. In addition to the above, the construction of the railway line from Malaba-Tororo to Pakwach will also support the first oil production. This also includes the rehabilitation of Pakwach-Butiaba ferry/barge water transport for the transportation of heavy oil machinery.
In agreement with the Government of Tanzania, the Hoima-Tanga route was alternatively selected as the least cost route to transport Uganda’s oil to the East African coast. This was launched in Hoima district recently by President Museveni and his Tanzanian counterpart John Pombe Magufuli.
The 1,444km route from Hoima to Tanga on the Indian Ocean is expected to be completed by 2020. This project will bear fruits of employment with over 10,000 Ugandans both skilled and semi-skilled anticipated to be employed.
For our economy to grow, we need cheaper and affordable electricity. It lowers the cost of production and thus attracts investors of all kinds.
In the electricity sub-sector, significant developments have been registered with electricity access increasing to 20.4% of households in 2016 compared to 11% in 2011. Fortunately, the construction works at the Karuma and Isimba hydropower projects are at 51% and 63% respectively.
Several energy production works are also underway at 12 out of 17 projects, under the Global Energy Transfer Feed-in Tariff (GETFiT) Programme.
On the health sector, there are varied problems, which, with co-operation, can be improved with time.
However, there has been improvement in the health services over the last five years, since 2011. Witness the following:
Infant mortality declined from 54 to 43 deaths per 1000 live births; the under-five child mortality declined from 90 to 64 deaths per 1000 live births.
Maternal mortality has also declined from 438 to 336 deaths per 100,000 births. And the contributory factors for the declined maternal mortality include improved maternal care and the rise in deliveries in health facilities which have increased from 57% to 73% of all births.
The fertility rate has declined from an average of 6.2 to 5.4 children per woman.
Family planning has increased, with the share of married women aged 18 to 49 practicing family planning rising from 30% to 39%.
The Government should, however, put much emphasis on health infrastructure development, as good progress has been already witnessed.
In education, out of the 7,409 parishes in Uganda, 5,667 parishes have at least one government school. Out of 1,500 sub-counties, 971 sub-counties have got secondary schools.
The Government secondary schools are now 949 and the Government primary schools are 2,305. What we need in the near future is a government secondary school per sub-county and one primary school per parish. This mass education programme by the NRM Government has raised the literacy rate from 43% in 1986 to 75 % today.
University education has expanded. As in 1986, there was only one university, but now we have around 32 both government and private.
From the above facts, you can realise that the existing security situation has boosted economic prosperity and provided a conducive environment for investment.
Industrial parks like Namanve, Jinja, Tororo, among others and more industries have been established in those areas which has helped our young people to get jobs.
With other factors remaining constant in the next 5-10 years, Uganda will be a Middle Income country considering the fact that by then we shall be an oil producing country. The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) from Hoima to Tanga will be already functioning, the proposed local consumption oil refinery at Busega will be operating, the second International Airport at Kabaale- Hoima will be operating, Karuma, Isimba and other dams will be in operation as well.
With all these future headed projects our country is already rich. The bright future will come with able leadership we have enjoyed for the last 31 years under the NRM/ President Y.K. Museveni.
Therefore, you cannot talk of changing leadership for the sake of changing because you are not sure that the next leader will be in position to stir the country to greater heights.
Our country is at a critical stage of development/conditions to take off where we need to move forward under steady leadership.
Some people have argued that let us change leadership because the Constitution provides for (age limit). Personally, I do not buy the idea because you may change and change for the worse. We need to consolidate what we have achieved, under the visionary and steady leadership of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
Look at a country like Angola which has just changed leadership from President Edwardo Dos Santos to Gen. João Lourenço after 38 years of steady leadership. Now assuming that Angola had changed leadership in 1990s and early 2000s during its wars with Savimbi, the country would have gone into flares. But president Dos Santos managed to defeat the rebels, embarked on the economic development of the country and now he has handed over when Angola has achieved it all with a GDP $89.63b (2016) per Capita.
Similarly, Singapore, a small island on the Asian continent, had its charismatic and forever looking executive prime minister by names of Lee Kwan who ruled that country for 38 years Prime Minister, post-independence (1965–1990, Senior Minister 1990-2004, Minister Mentor 2004-2011 by the time he handled power the country was peaceful, stable and one of the leading economies on Asian Continent
Singapore: The full year growth forecast for the Singapore economy has been narrowed to 2% to 3%, from the earlier range of 1% to 3%, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) on August 11 as data showed the economy growing quicker than initially thought in the second quarter
Singapore’s GDP Per Capita reached $52,962 in Dec 2016, compared to $53,630 in December 2015.
Some people have also argued that we need to change leadership from one president to another and from one party to another like those African countries which have done so. Now if you look at countries like Zambia and Malawi, which have changed from one president to another and from one political party to another they are better off than us? Can you convince me that an ordinary Malawian or Zambian, Mozambique is better off than an ordinary Ugandan because they have changed leadership from one President to another and from on political party to another? Obvious not
Malawi the Gross Domestic Product per capita in Mozambique was last recorded at $300.79 in 2016
Mozambique the Gross Domestic Product per capita in Mozambique was last recorded at $382.07 in 2016
Uganda The Gross Domestic Product per capita in Uganda was last recorded at $615.31 dollars in 2016
You can see that Uganda which has been under steady leadership for the last 31 years is in better place than those countries. So the point is how do we help our people to prosper economically through agriculture, livestock, business and ICT. Small-scale industries like fruit processing and fish farming not age limit (Togigwatako)
As a country at this critical stage of development let us focus on development not politics of age limits which are artificial impositions in the constitution because they limit the scope of choice of leaders a case in point is the new Austria Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz aged 31 years the leader of Conservative People’s Party who was recently elected as a Prime Minister and now the youngest leader on European Continent, so if there was age limit in Austrian Constitution say 35 to 75 years like ours here , no way would Mr. Kurz be a Prime Minister . So issues of age limit and term limits are not universally accepted principles of democracy. The most important principle is regular, free and fair elections and in our case we have been doing it this since 1996.
Writer is the Member of Parliament for Kassanda South Constituency