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NRM retreats are not about merry-making

By Vision Reporter

Added 17th January 2012 07:06 PM

Whenever the National Resistance Movement (NRM) political family goes into retreat, some people make a joke of it especially if they see pictures of the ruling party MPs bull-roasting and having a gig or two during one of those evenings after a hard day’s work.

Whenever the National Resistance Movement (NRM) political family goes into retreat, some people make a joke of it especially if they see pictures of the ruling party MPs bull-roasting and having a gig or two during one of those evenings after a hard day’s work.

By Mary Karooro Okurut

 Whenever the National Resistance Movement (NRM) political family goes into retreat, some people make a joke of it especially if they see pictures of the ruling party MPs bull-roasting and having a gig or two during one of those evenings after a hard day’s work. 

“Ah, they have just gone to have a good time,” some allege.

When they see the pictures of MPs not known or thought to have any idea of how to exercise now in military drills better known as chaka mchaka many think the party is probably subjecting its members to a weight loss and general fitness programme.
 
Some say it with in a lighthearted tongue-in-cheek, good-natured kind of way; just to tease the ruling party a little bit. Others are merely being cynical.
 
Admittedly, maybe as a party we have not done a good job of enlightening the public about or drawing their attention to the really serious business ever goes on at the Kyankwanzi National Leadership Institute when the ruling party MPs go into retreat.
 
Truth is you simply cannot talk politics all day; it is unrealistic and even unhealthy. At such times when there is a lot on the agenda, you need time off to relax. And for those among us who seldom have time or discipline to run to the gym regularly, a few days at Kyankwanzi quickly and effectively compensates for all that. We are up and awake well before the cock even thinks of crowing the first time by 4:00am. And we seldom go to bed before midnight. 
 
Hardly enough sleep by ordinary standards and the 5:00am drills are so intensive, any possibility of going into the discussions in sleep mode are quickly erased putting paid to claims of cynics that NRM legislators are simply going for a well earned rest. As you can see, Kyankwanzi is not your likely dream honeymoon or retirement destination: not your first choice if you are looking for a rest.
 
No need to dwell much on those who dismiss such retreats as a mere cup of coffee with the President and nothing more because most of those have no idea that as matter of fact the most important business and political deals in the world are actually brokered over a cup of coffee. 
 
 When members of the ruling party in any country get together, it ceases to be a party issue: it translates into a national matter. 
 
The stakes are much higher in Uganda’s case where the NRM commands an overwhelming majority in Parliament; for the simple reason that anything they agree on will be passed without much ado, on the floor of Parliament, not to mention Cabinet.
 
This 10-day retreat is definitely one of national consequence, looking at the matters for discussion.
 
The theme of the retreat is “deepening ideological consciousness for better service delivery”; something that will come as no surprise given that service delivery was at the heart of the NRM 2011 manifesto, a recognition that at the end of the day the effectiveness of government is judged by its capacity to deliver services to the people in its territory.
 
The keynote address by the President has been well covered by the press detailing his and the party’s perspectives on the state of the economy, infrastructure and energy, with emphasis on the problems the country has faced lately and what the leadership is doing to resolve them. 
 
Among the several issues on the agenda is an overview of the NRM manifesto of the 2011 elections. 
 
This is very important because that is the basis on which we were voted into power by Ugandans. The discussion here will entail a calibration of how much have we covered in the past seven months, against what we promised.
 
Also on the agenda is Modernisation of Agriculture and the new National Agricultural Advisory Services programme; very timely in light of the food price inflation that Uganda has suffered in 2011. How to improve agricultural output, increase commercial agriculture and ensure food security are some of the issues in this regard.
 
The party will also exchange views on micro-finance in general and SACCOs in particular: it is true they are now everywhere, but how are they helping the common person access credit on reasonable terms and use it to boost their household income?
 
Then we shall tackle the Northern Uganda reconstruction - what has gone on since the guns fell silent? How is the money being utilised and is the local person benefitting?
 
The challenges the country is facing regarding the youth will be addressed in the session on national youth programmes; with emphasis on how to engage and involve youth in all parts of the country.
 
Then we shall move on to the national strategy for industrialisation as the major solution to our unemployment problems.
 
We shall also discuss international trade and contemporary globalisation, Pan Africanism and regional integration, information management, geo-politics and national security, party building (the institution and its members) and also assess the efficacy of government’s efforts to fight corruption.
 
Lately, there have been reports of divisions and clique-formation within the party by far exaggerated in the media  but nevertheless, even if the extent of this divisionism is not big, whatever is there needs and is going to be addressed. 
 
On the whole, the party members will be looking at Uganda’s balance sheet: how well are we performing, how well are we meeting the aspirations of the people, what remains to be done and what are the bottlenecks that must be addressed?
 
So critical are such retreats that the party chairman, the President, sits in throughout. 
 
If anybody has got the Biblical patience of Job, then President Museveni is the man, because he sits down and listens patiently to all views before making his own contribution.      

NRM retreats are not about merry-making

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