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70% Ugandans born under Museveni leadership

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th June 2009 03:00 AM

Seventy percent of the Ugandans alive today have known no other president other than Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Seventy percent of the Ugandans alive today have known no other president other than Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

By Lydia Namubiru

Seventy percent of the Ugandans alive today have known no other president other than Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

According to the 2009 Statistical Abstract released by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics this week, Uganda’s population is now estimated at 30.7 million. Out of these, 21.5 million are aged 24 and below, implying that they were born either shortly before or after the 1986 takeover by the National Resistance Movement.

To the so called Museveni kids (in some cases grand kids), Idi Amin is simply a guy who inspired Oscar-winning movies. Likewise Milton Obote is an answer to a social studies exam question and Tito Okello Lutwa might as well not have existed.

This information is music to the ears of politicians in the opposition like Nobert Mao, the Gulu district chairman.

“It gives me hope for change. You know, Museveni’s politics has been based on talking about the past. Unfortunately for him and his politics, this majority does not relate to that past. They are not influenced by propaganda about Luwero and past regimes.

“What they know about is his failure to resolve the northern conflict and the infrastructure that he inherited but has failed to maintain like Mulago Hospital. They are our best bet for peaceful change through the ballot,” Mao celebrates.

Aside from the possible political gain, Mao is glad for many other differences between this new majority and the past generations. “They are more technologically adept. My nine-year-old son can fix the TV while I am still fumbling. He knows things my phone can do that I don’t,” he illustrates, adding that the new majority is also more entrepreneurial, open to careers in the creative arts like music and painting and is more embracing of the bigger world. Most importantly, he celebrates this generation that “does not have tribal hang-ups” with its members freely interacting and even marrying people regardless of their tribes. “They are not stuck in our muddy past and that is a good thing,” Mao concludes.

It is not such a good thing as far as some people in the NRM like Nsaba Buturo, the ethics minister are concerned.

First, he acknowledges the political disadvantage to his party that Mao points out. “It is a huge disadvantage because we have a majority that does not know that at one point the country was ungovernable. No one could do business or freely speak their mind. Infrastructure was terrible. Those born after 1986 unfortunately do not understand the fuss about these things. Instead, they are raising standards and demanding for more than the country can deliver at this point in time,” Buturo says.

Fellow NRM cadre, Mary Karoro Okurut, the party’s publicist, is not too worried about that, though. “They do not have to compare to the horrible past to appreciate that they live in a modern world. They are relating to the good present (that the NRM has created).”

Buturo however is not just worried about the politics but the morals of the country as well. “The young are so vulnerable to being misled.”

Referring to current campaigns by gay rights groups, Buturo is worried that the young people will in the future write policies to legalise such.

Like politicians, economists are also watching the huge young population with interest and mixed feelings. Optimistically, they see the young population as one that will rapidly expand the workforce, inject new energy into it and keep it strong for long. At the same time, this workforce will have only a minority of old people to cater for. Resultantly, the economy will boom as people save and invest more.

This phenomenon that economists refer to as the demographic dividend is often credited for the recent economic growth ‘miracles’ in East Asia.

On the other hand, economists worry that Uganda is not prepared to absorb this huge influx into the workforce.

With a literacy rate of 86% for those aged 15-24, (UNICEF), these young people are far more educated than the general population whose literacy rate is estimated at 69% by the Uganda Bureau of statistics. They will need and want formal jobs.

Uganda will have to create 8.6 million jobs in the next 14 years, according to Rachel Sebudde, an economist with the World Bank. In her analysis, the current formal sector would have to double itself every year for the 14 years if those jobs are too be created. Short of that, massive underemployment and the attendant problems will result.

Whichever way one looks at it, the huge Museveni generation is a phenomenonal block of citizen which comes with serious economic, political and social implications. The older generation is going to have to strategise such that they and the nation as a whole end up on the right side of these implications.

70% Ugandans born under Museveni leadership

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